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Melissa Fischer
12-09-2001, 08:37 PM
Does anyone have any brilliant hints for teaching children? Especially little, little ones aged 4 and 5? I know it can be done and has been done well by others. I'm looking for fool proof games in particular. Thanks.
Melissa

Edward
12-09-2001, 09:38 PM
Well, you might know this one already, but children like it. The whole class stands on one side of the mats, except one who stands in the middle (can be the sensei). The class has to run from one side to the other, without being caught by the middle student. The one caught will join in the middle and try to catch the remaining, and so forth, untill there are no students on the sides. Sensei should draw a line beyond which students in center cannot follow the others. This is a good exercice to teach them how to use tenkan and tai sabaki.

Cheers,
Edward

Melissa Fischer
12-19-2001, 09:31 AM
Thanks, Edward,
We do this this game in sikko. We then call it sharks and dolphins with the sharks trying to get the dolphins as they " swim" across the mat. We do it with all students but the kids always love it when the Sensei tries to grab them. Sounds fun.
How young does your dojo start Children?
Anything else?
Melissa

lt-rentaroo
12-19-2001, 08:07 PM
Hello,

Patience. Patience is the most important thing when teaching Aikido to children. Safety is up at the top also. Children do not have the attention span adults do (I'm sure you already know this) and get bored pretty easily, so don't expect them to enjoy performing kotegaeshi or ikkyo over and over and over again during class.

When I'm teaching, I try not to drone on and on about the philosophical aspects of Aikido with the kids; they're really only interested in rolling around and falling down. I make sure they understand the basic philosophy behind a technique, but I don't get crazy with it.

I also use simpler words the children can relate to. Most of the younger kids are still learning how to communicate effectively in English, expecting them to learn an exorbitant amount of technical terms in Japanese takes some of the fun away from class. The children understand the basic names for wrist grabs, strikes, counting, and the names for rolls and falls; but I introduce the terminology slower, so they learn it better.

I've also learned that children love Randori. Well, at least the children I teach do. I start class with some basic defenses which work well in multiple attack situations, usually concentrating on wrist/forearm grabs and kokyunage type techniques. Then during the Randori, I limit the types of attack and techniques to those we worked on in class. The children love to chase each other around the mats, tossing each other around. They think it's all a big game, but I know better! I know they are actually learning something, and that is what matters to me.

A good book to read is "Children And The Martial Arts, An Aikido Point Of View" by Gaku Hommma. This book has lots of good advice for teaching children, including games.

Edward
12-19-2001, 09:32 PM
Originally posted by Melissa Fischer
Thanks, Edward,
We do this this game in sikko. We then call it sharks and dolphins with the sharks trying to get the dolphins as they " swim" across the mat. We do it with all students but the kids always love it when the Sensei tries to grab them. Sounds fun.
How young does your dojo start Children?
Anything else?
Melissa
Hello Melissa,

Regarding the age, we deal with it case by case as we have no children classes, just beginners classes which mostly are under 15 years old. Usually 6-7 years old is the minimum, but there is one exception of one Japanese woman who comes to class with two 4-5 years old sons. But I think they are too young to learn anything useful.

As Louis mentioned, children love rolling on the mats so we give them a lot of Ukemi and Suwari KokyuHo....

Cheers,
Edward

Anat Amitay
01-14-2002, 09:56 AM
Hi there!
Actually, we still don't have a children class, though we hope to open one. Sometimes we have children that come with their parents to class and in some cases they join in, turning the class to a more playful training.
I liked some of the things our Sensei did with them.
For example, as a warm up game (and the other game that was brought up is also a good idea) they work in pairs. one holds the legs of the other, which stands on his hands and they need to get as fast as possible from one end of the dojo to the other. If your dojo is small, you can have them do it back and forth with changing jobs.
Then we were talking about not standing in the line of attack. Our Sensei took a child volenteer and they stood one infront of the other. The Sensei took a bokken and told the child that he wants to hit him but can only do a head slash (Shomen- uchi) and the child needs to move in whatever way he wants to as not to get hit. One child will just move to the side (take a step aside), then you ask if anyone has another idea and let other kids try. Another will roll to the side, backwards one might move like Ten- kan etc.
Then you can explain that the child is standing inside a circle and it has lines in every direction like the rays of a sun. Each ray is a place in which one can move to in order to avoid a hit. From here you can go and teach Ten Kan (if the kids don't know it yet) or anything else.
I hope I was clear because the class was not in English and I'm not sure my translation is good enough, but I hope you can find ideas that will help you! :)
Good luck!
Anat

Melissa Fischer
01-25-2002, 11:28 PM
Thanks for your feed back, it was very clearly explained. I love hearing how people come up with games to play with kids to teach Aikido basics.
What do you think is the most important thing for kids to "get"? Is it centering? Getting out of the line of attack? Watching their backs? Focus? General movement principles? There are too many to name and many ways to prioritize. Would it be the same for adults? I'm just seeking personal opinions.

Melissa

Steven Scott
01-26-2002, 08:34 AM
Hi melissa,

I have taught a childrens class in both Traditional Aikido and, in my 'old' days, Shukokai Karate. As a rule I generally do not accept a student who is under the age of seven, check your insurance details regarding ages, etc as some firms may not give out insurance to a child under a certain age.
As for the most important aspect of a childrens class - FUN.
Children learn most when they are enjoying themselves, make up aiki-games such as Shikko-Tag, where they chase each other around the Tatami learning about Ma-ai, Zanshin, Shikko, uchi waza, discipline (press-ups/sit-ups for cheaters!!). Ukemi-relay up and down the mat in teams is also a good and fun way to create a sense of cameraderie amongst kids who, being naturally competitive, want to win. Let the winning team choose a suitable punishment for the losers, but make them aware that the losers will also be allowed to choose a suitable 'prize' for the winners (generally the same as they got). This teaches respect for others without having to listen to A lengthy lecture about 'do unto others' etc etc).
As kids are small, and get underfoot, I prefer to keep them in groups of threes for techniques with as wide a spread of grades as possible,` this allows some of the higher ranked kids to offer help to the others, again giving them a small taster of what responsibility feels like, but always while having Fun (with a capital F).

Hope this is of some use, a Kids class is very hard work, but worth it.

lt-rentaroo
01-26-2002, 12:32 PM
Hello,

"What do you think is the most important thing for kids to "get"? Is it centering? Getting out of the line of attack? Watching their backs? Focus? General movement principles?"


I believe the most important thing for children to learn is getting off the line of the attack. I have a simple reason for this belief; if the child is not there when the strike comes, then the child has avoided the confrontation (for the moment) and can now better control the situation. Often, children who begin martial arts classes (doesn't matter which martial art) have a tendency to try and block every thing that comes their way, whether it is a punch, kick, grab, whatever. I stress that it is much easier to defend yourself and control the situation if you are just not there when the punch, kick, grab, whatever arrives.

There are numerous games and practice drills that can be used to teach children this very simple principle.

Have a good day!

Anat Amitay
01-28-2002, 12:26 AM
Originally posted by Melissa Fischer
Thanks for your feed back, it was very clearly explained. I love hearing how people come up with games to play with kids to teach Aikido basics.
What do you think is the most important thing for kids to "get"? Is it centering? Getting out of the line of attack? Watching their backs? Focus? General movement principles? There are too many to name and many ways to prioritize. Would it be the same for adults? I'm just seeking personal opinions.

Melissa

Hi Melissa,
Actually I think the most important thing to do with kids is teach them to keep their flexibility and ability to move.
What I mean- when we grow older, we forget how to move. Not only that we are lazier as years go by, but the comforts of modern life enabled us to do less. You can feel it if you started Aikido at an older age and suddenly after a few months look back and say: "wow, I never thought I could roll that way in my life...".
Kids are young and flexible. We should teach them to stay that way, not lose that ability. I believe the rest they will learn unconsously through training. Of course you can emphasise movement, focus, center... but if you try to teach them only that they will lose interest. Energy, Ki... don't mean a thing to them (most of them, at least). So as children your teaching is actually more secret. They come for fun and games, not realizing that they are getting much more than that. They will learn to aprichiate it when they grow up and have a good base to continue learning. :)
Anat