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nuxie
10-15-2010, 07:01 PM
Is aikido suited for kids? Does your local dojo have a kids class?

Just interested in this.

Benjamin Mehner
10-15-2010, 07:07 PM
My dojo doesn't have kids classes. A lot of other dojos do. My personal opinion is that it is well suited for children, but I'll let someone with more experience expound on that.

Janet Rosen
10-15-2010, 08:00 PM
I helped out w/ a kids program for three yrs that was very well run. I've seen a couple I didn't think much of but several that really impressed me. The caliber of the teacher is even more important, IMO, than adult classes because kids are so impressionable both positively and negatively.

ninjaqutie
10-15-2010, 09:24 PM
Some kids really enjoy aikido class. A lot of kids programs are more about games and these games end up teaching some aikido principles. I have seen a game similar to siman says, shikko tag, a version of a game like seven up, aikido bowling (where you roll big exercise balls around in an attempt to hit someone), etc. Best thing to do is just check out a kids program, but I'm sure youtube has something to view :)

WilliB
10-16-2010, 02:44 AM
Is aikido suited for kids? Does your local dojo have a kids class?

Just interested in this.

Many dojos here have kids classes, but personally I think it is not really a great idea.
Aikido is way too esoteric and elaborate for kids, and when you modify it to make it interesting for kids, you end up with something like Judo, so why not send kids to Judo in the first place?

shakou
10-16-2010, 11:01 AM
I hear what Willy is saying, we had a kids class that was ultimately an aiki-jutsu class. Sadly the politics of the local councilors destroyed the class howeve one of the kids now comes to our adult class and now has his juniour 1st kyu, a very turned on young kid, 10 years old and flying.

Janet Rosen
10-16-2010, 11:37 AM
Many dojos here have kids classes, but personally I think it is not really a great idea.
Aikido is way too esoteric and elaborate for kids, and when you modify it to make it interesting for kids, you end up with something like Judo, so why not send kids to Judo in the first place?

I'd say this depends on the teacher and the age of the kids (I've seen in some places kids as young as 5 which IMO is way too young - from my experience and observations, before 7 most kids lack the ability to focus and it's basically fun exercise). The kids coming through some of the dojos I've seen are definitely learning aikido.

mathewjgano
10-16-2010, 11:38 AM
Is aikido suited for kids?


Forgetting about what the specific goals might be, I think it depends on the kid, the instructor, and the class dynamic, among other things, for how well-suited it might be. Of course, the training will reflect the age and individual maturity of the kids. I had a 7 year old who could focus (and thus learn) far beyond that of an 11 year old in the class. Teaching kids anything can be tough, let alone teaching them cool "ninja stuff" they "know all about" from movies and TV (wooden sword practice proved this real quick to me).
In the early education field they put a huge emphasis on classroom management because at that age, that's usually the biggest challenge (hence the games often used to solicit attention from the kids). Because of this, I almost consider this ability to be more important than a high technical knowledge, paticularly in dealing with younger kids.


before 7 most kids lack the ability to focus and it's basically fun exercise). The kids coming through some of the dojos I've seen are definitely learning aikido.
Definately! One of my favorite students was a 6 year old who could sit with the stillness of Buddha (pardon the poetry). It still blows me away at how "advanced" his attitude was for such a young dude.
...though I should add it did take a few classes before he could adjust to sitting still on a wide open mat that seemed to beg him to go running and leaping around.

RED
10-16-2010, 08:10 PM
I think a kids class can be good for building community. So many children in the kids class are the children of adult students. It has become a way to keep the entire family involved in the dojo. It takes the dojo from a place you exercise, to a community.

lbb
10-16-2010, 08:41 PM
I think it's fine as long as you set expectations appropriately. Young kids are not going to learn aikido, but they can learn the fundamental building blocks of movement that ultimately add up to aikido. Even older kids are not going to learn more than a few techniques. They're not going to want to train if it's not fun pretty much all the time -- don't expect them to. If you're okay with letting kids be kids, and not getting too stressed about whether they're doing "O Sensei's aikido" (they're not), it can be a good time for all concerned.

SteveTrinkle
10-16-2010, 08:59 PM
A special event at Aikido Kenkyukai Santa Barbara - Kids teaching their parents. Fun for all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp8GIJ9g-1w

And Aikido Kenkyukai Chile, Hakusan Dojo when Daiyu Sensei came to visit... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41wKf2gRW1Y

WilliB
10-16-2010, 10:16 PM
A special event at Aikido Kenkyukai Santa Barbara - Kids teaching their parents. Fun for all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp8GIJ9g-1w

And Aikido Kenkyukai Chile, Hakusan Dojo when Daiyu Sensei came to visit... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41wKf2gRW1Y

Ah, Takeda in Kamakura. Yeah, I have visited there. It is the ukemi gang. Ukemi ukemi ukemi ukemi. Like 100 times for the kids or more, and thats just in the beginning. Then more ukemi after practise. Kind of over the top, imho.

But if you showed a video of the whole class, youīd see that kids run into the same problem with Aikido at AKI as everywhere else.

SteveTrinkle
10-16-2010, 10:49 PM
But if you showed a video of the whole class, youīd see that kids run into the same problem with Aikido at AKI as everywhere else.

?? Who said kids don't run into problems? Just videos of people having fun.

WilliB
10-16-2010, 11:04 PM
?? Who said kids don't run into problems? Just videos of people having fun.

By "problems" I mean of course that (after the fun part that the video shows) they stand there and are asked to do Aikido techniques which clearly are not ideal for small, very active people with young, flexible small joints. Been there, seen that.

Imho, a judo class is better suited for kids because they use their power with big, safe techniques, rather than being asked to control themselves.

I didnīt think that was a controversial statement.

Janet Rosen
10-17-2010, 01:24 AM
Imho, a judo class is better suited for kids because they use their power with big, safe techniques, rather than being asked to control themselves.

I didnīt think that was a controversial statement.

I don't think judo is a bad idea for kids! But you did say originally that you thought aikido for kids just turned into judo, and some of us are saying in our experience that isn't so. I would add:
1) not every town has a judo dojo
2) not everybody is interested in having their kids learn the sports or competition aspect of judo
3) some kids NEED to learn to control themselves!

WilliB
10-17-2010, 01:51 AM
I don't think judo is a bad idea for kids! But you did say originally that you thought aikido for kids just turned into judo.

Quibble: That is not quite what I said. I said if you modify Aikido to make it suitable for kids (e.g. by taking out the the esoteric stuff and the twisting of small joints and introduce more lively, playground like roughhouse randori), you end up with something similar to judo, so why not do the real thing.

Janet Rosen
10-17-2010, 11:55 AM
Quibble: That is not quite what I said. I said if you modify Aikido to make it suitable for kids (e.g. by taking out the the esoteric stuff and the twisting of small joints and introduce more lively, playground like roughhouse randori), you end up with something similar to judo, so why not do the real thing.
and you wrote as if this were a given.....In every kids program I've either participated in or observed (n=6) ikkyo, kokyunage (iriminage), shihonage and other techniques were part of the curriculum, and games used as tools to get them practicing rolling or shikko plus burn off energy after having had a good focused class - a reward for training well as it were.

WilliB
10-17-2010, 12:13 PM
and you wrote as if this were a given.....In every kids program I've either participated in or observed (n=6) ikkyo, kokyunage (iriminage), shihonage and other techniques were part of the curriculum

I said "IF" you modify Aikido to make it suitable for kids. So you didnīt. Fine. No skin of my nose. Just donīt claim that that has anything to do with my statement.

Now if you want to dogmatically defend the idea of teaching esoteric breathing exercises and joint cranks to kids, fine. I am not going to convince you in an internet forum. So, enjoy yourself.

amoeba
10-17-2010, 02:49 PM
Good thing our adults don't like exoterics or painful joint-twisting either, so I guess our Aikido seems quite suitable for kids...;)

We have two childrens groups (6 to 8 and 9 to 12, roughly) and one youth group. While we do games at the end of the lesson, we still do aikido techniques even with the small ones. Basically, the lesson is like an adult one, just maybe with a little more explanation and some fun in the end. Ah, and more focus on basic rolling andstuff, I guess...

Of course we don't do everything, if there's a lot of new kids, we're glad if they get their ikkyo ura from ai hanmi more or less right. But once they're there for a while, they do get quite good and you can start doing quite a lot of stuff with them...

My aikido teacher is actually a grammar school teacher, she's quite gifted with the kids, so we have a lot of them. I and two guys assist during training - no fun teaching a bunch of 10-20 kinds alone!

eyrie
10-17-2010, 11:57 PM
I think it's fine as long as you set expectations appropriately. Young kids are not going to learn aikido, but they can learn the fundamental building blocks of movement that ultimately add up to aikido. Even older kids are not going to learn more than a few techniques. They're not going to want to train if it's not fun pretty much all the time -- don't expect them to. If you're okay with letting kids be kids, and not getting too stressed about whether they're doing "O Sensei's aikido" (they're not), it can be a good time for all concerned. To add to what Mary said, I ran a kids "aikido" class for the Qld Sport & Recreation Dept's After Hours School Care Program (for 7-12yo) at our community center; 1-2x a week each school term over a period of 3 years.

That was exactly my experience.

What we ended up doing was adapt the QSR's community coaching sample games resource. We took many of their original games and modified it to incorporate VERY basic martial arts principles. The kids were quick to adapt to the "change up" rules, and had just as much fun - and in the process learnt some basic movement, coordination, and balance skills that could be readily applied to any form of athletic/sporting activity.

Creating a game-oriented program that incorporates *some* basic martial-arts orientated principles and movement is a lot harder than you would expect. For starters, it makes you really think about the "basics" far more deeply. And then dumbing it down sufficiently for an unenthusiastic young audience and still remain "interesting", can be quite a challenge.

Ultimately, it's about engaging your audience. If it's fun and entertaining, you'll get good feedback - and very likely get invited the following year to run the program again. If it's boring and serious, there's a plethora of other activities to choose from. ;)

Eva Antonia
10-18-2010, 03:45 AM
Hello,

my four kids have, in some time of their life, done aikido, and the experience was very different. After four years of trying, I think it is really very difficult to do aikido with kids, and there are many things you can do wrong.

Two of my children dropped out, and I am sorry to say that they were those who had much more natural aikido gift than the others. My big son started at seven and a half years, and he never had problems to focus, to concentrate, to do whatever. He participated to adults classes immediately, and when we went to training in Istanbul, the professor there also invited him to adults classes as he was really good. He went three times to a five-day sleep-over seminar, and he loved it. And then he lost interest in aikido, and I had to drag him to the lessons. His performance became worse and worse, and then he stopped. I am still sad about that, as even after one year of near to no training he has the movements, reactions, dynamics...everything is still there. Except the interest.

One of my girls started at five and a half, and she also had a natural talent for all sorts of ukemi. She just did them without any teaching, and not only mae ukemi and ushiro ukemi. She did yoko ukemi, mae ukemi without hands, the dropping leave fall (how is that called?) and even some tobu ukemi. She learned the basic techniques but then had problems with concentration. She rather wants to play and not to learn (also in school...), and at the age of eight she dropped out because she said aikido was nice to watch but hurted the joints too much.

My other girl and my small boy continue. They do aikido since two years, and they master some basics, but still have problems to concentrate, and sometimes they quarrel on the mat, which is quite annoying. But they are the most ancient "kid members" in the club. All other kids drop out after a time. Even those who get to a relatively high rank for a kid (4 - 3rd kyu). When I go to Turkey it is the same. Every year the kid group is completely changed. There is no permanence.

In our Belgian dojo kids learn pretty much the same as the adults; in the Turkish dojo it is much more pedagogic and play-centered, but the result is the same. High kid-turnover, no permanent results.

It somehow loses its fascination to the children after a certain time, and seeing that, I start thinking that it is a waste of aikido. They start it too young, they do not really comprehend, and then they drop out. If they started later, maybe at the age of 12 - 16, they might love it more constantly and have a better experience at long term.

Best regards,

Eva

amoeba
10-18-2010, 07:52 AM
Well, I guess it's right that there's a lot more fluctuation in the kids classes, but I woudn't put that down to aikido. In my experience, kids generally try out a lot more different stuff - try out whatever their friends do, and so on. But I think that's a good thing. We get lots of new children that want to try training and most of them are pretty quick to decide if they want to do it. Some don't like it - those won't come back. But the ones that do like it normally register for class immediately. Of course some drop out again after a while, but a lot of them stay quite long!
Adults, on the other hand, tend to think and ponder very long before they decide to try. They want to be 100 % sure (although I think you can quit two months in advance at our dojo, so it's not as if they couldn't stop again if it's not for them...)
To them, it seems like a really big deal to register for a martial art, they wonder if they're fit enough, if they have the time... and a lot of them never register at all.
While for the kids, it's kind of common to start and try new things - maybe they've already done gymnastics and swimming and dancing... so it just comes naturally to them to give new things a chance. I'd like that a bit more in the adults, too!:D

Of course, there's loads of reasons kids quit: parents moving, too much schoolwork, puberty... but we still have some children that have been training since the dojo was founded almost three years ago and I really hope they will stay. In other places (like here in Stockholm) I've seen some impressive examples of what can become of children that actually stick through puberty and manage the transition to the adult training - and I'm really jealous! (Although I wasn't that old when I started myself, but it still feels kinda strnge to practice with an 18-year-old who's trained four years longer than I have...;))

Mark Gibbons
10-18-2010, 05:24 PM
I think it's fine as long as you set expectations appropriately. Young kids are not going to learn aikido, but they can learn the fundamental building blocks of movement that ultimately add up to aikido. Even older kids are not going to learn more than a few techniques. They're not going to want to train if it's not fun pretty much all the time -- don't expect them to. If you're okay with letting kids be kids, and not getting too stressed about whether they're doing "O Sensei's aikido" (they're not), it can be a good time for all concerned.

What did you mean by young and by learning aikido?

I've worked with some 8 - 12 year olds that get aikido as well as talented early kyu adults. The really talented kids tend to be 1st or 2nd kyu by 15 and black belts by 18.

Most kids don't get it at all, but that's not much different from the adult classes. Most adults quit before they really learn aikido. Just my observation of course.

Regards,
Mark

jonreading
10-19-2010, 12:10 PM
Considering at the time I am writing this post there exists on Aikiweb a post from Ledyard Sensei that not only exceeds my comprehension, it will exceed my comprehension for years to come... The aikido I am training is not for kids.

I think the argument here is how much can you alter aikido training for children before it stops being what we know as aikido. You modify the instruction, modify the curriculum, modify the duration of training, modify the intensity of class... In other words, if you make aikido into something completely different than the aikido [we know], kids can do aikido. Sure.

I think the focus of early martial training should be body awareness, coordination, discipline, and routine. To be honest, I believe there are tumbling classes, gymnastic classes, dance classes and a variety of other programs that better suited to accomplishing those goals than modifying aikido. Let alone other arts like wrestling, judo, karate, tai kwon do, etc.

If you are in a situation where no other alternatives exist, sure, modified aikido works. But I don't advocate pushing children into aikido because you want them to train aikido. Let those arts and activities better suited to children teach children; we spend far more of their lifetime as an adult than a child. And I can tell you for a fact I will NEVER take a dance lesson as an adult, but sure enough there is proof out there of my 5-year old rehearsal when I am dancing in an Elvis costume like a fool. Seriously. It's not funny.

WilliB
10-19-2010, 12:52 PM
Considering at the time I am writing this post there exists on Aikiweb a post from Ledyard Sensei that not only exceeds my comprehension, it will exceed my comprehension for years to come... The aikido I am training is not for kids.

I think the argument here is how much can you alter aikido training for children before it stops being what we know as aikido. You modify the instruction, modify the curriculum, modify the duration of training, modify the intensity of class... In other words, if you make aikido into something completely different than the aikido [we know], kids can do aikido. Sure.

I think the focus of early martial training should be body awareness, coordination, discipline, and routine. To be honest, I believe there are tumbling classes, gymnastic classes, dance classes and a variety of other programs that better suited to accomplishing those goals than modifying aikido. Let alone other arts like wrestling, judo, karate, tai kwon do, etc.

If you are in a situation where no other alternatives exist, sure, modified aikido works. But I don't advocate pushing children into aikido because you want them to train aikido. Let those arts and activities better suited to children teach children; we spend far more of their lifetime as an adult than a child. And I can tell you for a fact I will NEVER take a dance lesson as an adult, but sure enough there is proof out there of my 5-year old rehearsal when I am dancing in an Elvis costume like a fool. Seriously. It's not funny.

Dito! My thoughts exactly. I just couldnīt express them that well.

ninjaqutie
10-19-2010, 01:25 PM
One of my girls started at five and a half, and she also had a natural talent for all sorts of ukemi...... and at the age of eight she dropped out because she said aikido was nice to watch but hurted the joints too much.

At that age, I would think training would be nice to her joints. Even up until 16 (and a bit beyond) in our dojo we are careful about what techniques we do with younger people because we don't want to injur their still growing joints.

Mark Gibbons
10-19-2010, 03:52 PM
At that age, I would think training would be nice to her joints. Even up until 16 (and a bit beyond) in our dojo we are careful about what techniques we do with younger people because we don't want to injur their still growing joints.

I think where I train we are careful about how we do the techniques rather than worrying so much about which techniques. With the understanding that the techniques taught kids are usually kihon taught to 2nd queue and under. We have plenty of folks with delicate arthritic wrists. We still do sankyo.

Kids get taught the same techniques as the adult classes as far as I can tell. The instructors do watch really closely for size and attitude mismatches. I know I've had my share of discussions with the kids about things that would really hurt and things that would really damage someone. We've had a lot of the 10 -12 year olds on the mat at Seminars. They can handle and dish out more than most people give them credit for. I think there are other reasons Aikido might not be a good fit for some kids. But few things fit everone.

Lyle Laizure
10-20-2010, 02:08 PM
Slow and steady. Always slow.

mathewjgano
10-21-2010, 04:47 PM
I think the argument here is how much can you alter aikido training for children before it stops being what we know as aikido.
Well, it's not like there's a concise view on that to begin with...And how many of us have an altered training from that of the guy who more or less defined what "Aikido" is?
At what point does the student get to call what he or she does, "Aikido?"
I think the focus of early martial training should be body awareness, coordination, discipline, and routine. To be honest, I believe there are tumbling classes, gymnastic classes, dance classes and a variety of other programs that better suited to accomplishing those goals than modifying aikido. Let alone other arts like wrestling, judo, karate, tai kwon do, etc.
Again, i think it depends on a lot more than what tradition of learning one happens to practice: There are bad gymnastics teachers; I remember being told to roll on my spine in the tumbling classes I went to as a wee lad. Furthermore, try getting some boys to be happy about going to gymnastics. Natural motivators, which vary from child to child, are a major factor to consider I think...not to say it can't work against you sometimes too (thinking of the disappointed looks when I told my students to stop having light-saber duels).

If you are in a situation where no other alternatives exist, sure, modified aikido works. But I don't advocate pushing children into aikido because you want them to train aikido.
I agree completely. I always saw a huge difference in the motivation and focus of my students who wanted to train and those whose parents pushed them...then again that's how I fell in love with soccer (mom definately pushed me to play when I didn't want to). It all depends.

And I can tell you for a fact I will NEVER take a dance lesson as an adult, but sure enough there is proof out there of my 5-year old rehearsal when I am dancing in an Elvis costume like a fool. Seriously. It's not funny.
evileyes From this glass house it's absolutely hilarious!:D

Tim Ruijs
10-26-2010, 05:24 AM
In my dojo, my wife teaches the youngsters from 8 till 12 years.
To what extend can we call this true Aikido? Tough one.
We teach them to have respect for life, all life. The aim is not to hurt eachother, but learn with eachother. Respect the ability of others and yourself. That works wonderfully well.

Can you compare their Aikido to 'ours'? No. But I think should not either. How well does the Aikido of a beginner compare to that of a shihan? Be honest: probably just as bad.

JCT53
10-26-2010, 03:22 PM
At our club, we have a class on Tuesday and it is mostly kids (kyuu ranks.) The other kids are 7,9,10 and me, the oldest at 14. So, yes Aikido is very much a Martial Art suited for kids.

Lyle Bogin
10-27-2010, 09:04 AM
I use aikido as part of my phys Ed curriculum, 2nd grade and up. Lots of arm swinging, with one partnered technique at the end. Just getting them to know that aikido exists is a major accomplishment.