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I have only taught aikido to children very very occasionally. But this week I was asked to teach a community self-defence class. I wasn't sure how it was going to go...
I have always thought that judo and karate were more suitable than aikido for young children. Some children like the grappling part of judo and some like the throwing part; some children like the kata part of karate and some like the kumite (sparring) part. And maybe the concept of no winners and no losers in aikido is a little difficult to catch. Anyway this class was self-defence so philosophy wasn't a problem!
So I checked out aikiweb and I found some useful information. The teachers on aikiweb who are experienced in teaching children have a lot of knowledge. You can search the forums for "teaching children."
KEEP IT FAST
KEEP IT UPBEAT
KEEP IT SIMPLE
KEEP IT FUN
And here is the basic lesson plan for a one-off self-defence course. It's in English and Japanese in case anyone is interested in the vocabulary. The Japanese is in kanji - the Japanese characters from Chinese - together with the pronunciation in the phonetic hiragana alphabet and in romaji - English letters.
SELF-DEFENCE FOR CHILDREN: LESSON PLAN
1 Hello! こんにちは！ konnichiwa!
2 Warm-up 準備体操 じゅんびたいそう jumbi taisou
3 Body's weapons 体の武器！ からだのぶき！ karada no buki
3.1 Voice! Shout LOUDLY! 声！大声で叫ぶ！こえ！おおごえでさけぶ！ koe! oogoe de sakebu!
3.2 Legs! Run away! 足！走って逃げる！あし！はしってにげる！ ashi! hashitte nigeru!
3.3 Strikes 当て身 あてみ atemi
3.3.1 Feet 足 あし ashi
3.3.2 Knees ひざ hiza
3.3.3 Elbows ひじ hiji
3.3.4 Hands/palms 手/手のひら て/てのひら te/te no hira
4 Breakfalls 受け身 うけみ ukemi
5 Escapes 逃げ方 にげかた nigekata
6 Techniques 技 わざ waza
7 Warm-down and stretch 整理体操 と 柔軟体操 せいりたいそう と じゅうなんたいそう seiri taisou to juunan taisou
8 About bullying いじめについて ijime ni tsuite
9 See you! さようなら！ sayounara!
So then it was time for the lesson. There were exciting moments and things that maybe didn't work so well. Children are a wild mixture of wonder and trust and energy and they have a short attention span but they love moving their bodies and they like succeeding at something they try. They all did great.
Then as I was walking through the car park after the lesson a mother came up to me and said thank you. Her daughter had told her she'd had fun.