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senshincenter
04-06-2011, 10:18 AM
How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido:

- Hold quitting as a viable option.

- Hold the child's whims, fancies, wants, and desires, as elements worthy of weighing when considering if your child should start Aikido, continue Aikido, and/or quit Aikido.

- Diffuse your child's Aikido training with an abundance of other culturally motivated pursuits (e.g. music, baseball, football, soccer, etc.).

- Fail to firmly uphold the position that there is no "on" and "off" the mat (i.e. all virtues gained and cultivated on the mat are expected to be held and further cultivated off the mat).

- Fail to address your child's physical wellness in terms of their strength to weight ratio, flexibility, and endurance.

- Fail to clearly, directly, and immediately address all demonstrations of half-effort, poor concentration, and improper mindset.

- Don't have them train as much as possible.

mathewjgano
04-06-2011, 10:45 AM
I think it depends a little on the kid, but those are definately some good things to remember!

Rabih Shanshiry
04-06-2011, 10:51 AM
How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido:

- Hold the child's whims, fancies, wants, and desires, as elements worthy of weighing when considering if your child should start Aikido, continue Aikido, and/or quit Aikido.

- Diffuse your child's Aikido training with an abundance of other culturally motivated pursuits (e.g. music, baseball, football, soccer, etc.).

- Don't have them train as much as possible.

I've got these same ones on my list too, only I call it "How To Make Sure Your Kids Hate Aikido (And Possibly You Too)"

senshincenter
04-06-2011, 11:05 AM
I think one has to be more proactive and creative when it comes to getting around these basic elements of acquiring skill. Being hated is not the automatic end result. The problem is that us moderns don't really know how to do this anymore.

The deluded concept that we can only get skilled at that which we want to do and/or love at all times denies that fact that all masters have learned how to reconcile boredom and even the lack of personal affinity via their training. How? By first having the training generate huge amounts of boredom and even hate. Only then can such things be reconciled - only then does the door away from mediocrity and/or poor skill open up.

raul rodrigo
04-06-2011, 11:38 AM
I achieve the same thing by simply not having them train at all.

R

David Board
04-06-2011, 11:52 AM
How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido:

- Hold quitting as a viable option.

- Hold the child's whims, fancies, wants, and desires, as elements worthy of weighing when considering if your child should start Aikido, continue Aikido, and/or quit Aikido.

- Diffuse your child's Aikido training with an abundance of other culturally motivated pursuits (e.g. music, baseball, football, soccer, etc.).

- Fail to firmly uphold the position that there is no "on" and "off" the mat (i.e. all virtues gained and cultivated on the mat are expected to be held and further cultivated off the mat).

- Fail to address your child's physical wellness in terms of their strength to weight ratio, flexibility, and endurance.

- Fail to clearly, directly, and immediately address all demonstrations of half-effort, poor concentration, and improper mindset.

- Don't have them train as much as possible.

As a father of two young aikidoka and as a soccer coach, I strongly agree with with the sentiments but wholeheartedly disagree with the nuisances of these statements.

-To force a kid on to the mat when they no longer want to be there can create a very bad situation for the kid and their dojo mates. It can disrupt class and distract the Sensei.

-While the whims and fancies of a child can be fleeting and unfocused. By not listening to them you create a conflict that doesn't need to there. I find it better to listen to their whims, fancy, desires and wants. But listening is only part of the conversation. They aren't the deciding factor but by listening and addressing them appropriately leads to a better solution than ignoring them.

-While I have seen many kids over committed to cultural activities to focus solely on anyone thing doesn't allow a child to learn what they want to pursue. My boys have three activities that they choose to participate in. They learn different skills with each activity. They are asked to commit to each activity to their fullest. They are learning to balance their activities so that they can get the most out of each one. The learn that a commitment in one can be that they can't do something else in another. While Aikido is our mainstay, it isn't their only thing. They are allowed to explore activities and find the ones that suit them and our needs as a family.

-While we constantly apply what we learn on the mat off the mat. The distinction of on and off the mat helps to focus their energy in the dojo. When they are at the dojo, their focus becomes Aikido. Just like when they are on the soccer field they are focused on soccer. What they learn can be applied outside the dojo and they are expected to show what they learned in the dojo in daily life, the dichotomy of on and off the mat helps to focus their energy while on the mat. School troubles, soccer losses are all put aside when on the mat.

-Recognizing physical limitations is important but shouldn't be limiting in that they should challenge themselves to improve what they can.

-While recognizing failures is important it most be done in a positive manner for younger kids. Sometime it helps to turn a blind eye to one while another is being focused upon. Always pointing out the lack of focus especially without pointing out what they did well can lead to a kid that doesn't want to be on the mat because they feel themselves failing on every effort. You can't ignore the problem but harping on it can have the opposite effect. And of course don't forget to let them know when they are doing it right. I am a strong believer in the sandwich method. One good thing, a redirection or critique and one more good thing.

-Training as much as possible is great advise as long as it is not overdone. The oldest boy makes it to the dojo 2-4 days a week depending on commitments and health. Over-training is a concern in any activity especially physical activities. There is often trade-offs to be made. My boys want to go to the dojo on most days but sometimes, they are worried about school assignments or are just burned out for the week. They know that they are expected to make it to the dojo at least twice and try to make it three times. However, if they say on Wednesday that they need a break they can take that break. They just know that Thursday becomes a must go (barring unforeseen). We are fortunate that our dojo has four family classes plus a little kids class that the oldest helps participates in as a sempei so we have lots of options. Burn out is real.

Like I said I agree with the sentiment of your statements.
-Aikido is a commitment that should be taken seriously. It should not be quite lightly.
-A child's whims and wants should not become the leading factor in when to train or when to quit.
-Aikido should not be one of a dozen things a child does nor should other things be allowed to distract from a child's practice.
-Aikido can and should be taken off the mat.
-A child limitations should be addressed and acknowledged. Lack of focus should not be allowed to continue and dealt with.
-Training is important and should be done as much as is reasonable.

Long winded I know...

crbateman
04-06-2011, 11:57 AM
You can remove the word "Aikido" from your suggestions and substitute "soccer", "baseball", "math", "music", "acting" or a myriad of other things, and they all sound the same... overbearing. IMHO, you can't get out your blacksmith's hammer and pound a kid into something. They'll resent and rebel. You have to let them enjoy the experience and be supportive, not manipulative. A set of ethics that a child grows into and can take personal pride in is much better than a set that's "painted on". Just sayin'...

Demetrio Cereijo
04-06-2011, 12:00 PM
Trying to live trough them. Want aikido? DIY.

Keith Larman
04-06-2011, 12:30 PM
Whenever I see lists like this I wonder if they have kids... Maybe they do and their experiences are a heck of a lot different than mine as a parent, but I find many of those things miss the nuances. It ain't so easy.

My daughter spent many, many hours at the dojo as a tiny one. She knew everyone, including shihan, kancho, etc. She decided to start but after a few classes she melted down -- she felt pressure to be "good" because she knew everyone, I was her dad, etc. In other words, her "way" of being a perfectionist, of being her own worst critic, made it nearly intolerable for her to be on the mat. So I was faced with either forcing her, crying, in to taking class. Or allowing her to sit on the sidelines when she didn't feel up to class. Or telling her "okay, come back later if you want". I did the last one.

She never wanted to play soccer. All her friends were playing AYSO for a couple years before she announced she wanted to try. And once she got on the soccer field, she blossomed. She now plays literally non-stop all year. She was recruited by the local, big-deal soccer club literally only a few months after the first time she touched a soccer ball and now she gets private goalkeep lessons from the club on Mondays, hour and a half practices with her team on Tuesday and Thursday, one hour of special skills training Friday, and an hour and a half of focused skills training on Saturdays. It is ruining my practice time in Aikido. We go nuts getting her everywhere not to mention the games and tournaments.

But she loves it with all her soul.

My point is that what she loves right now is soccer. I couldn't have forced her in to it. I could have forced her to stay in Aikido. Maybe she would have gotten over her issues there. Maybe not. Maybe she would have continued to be miserable.

In retrospect she wanted to start aikido to some extent because I did it.

Maybe someday she'll come back on the mat. I do spend time with her periodically teaching her things which have helped her in her soccer fwiw. But... Parents walk a tightrope of nudging, pushing, and sometimes standing back. It is difficult at best to figure out the right way for each kid. Sure, there are lots of ways to screw it up. But IMHO one guaranteed way is to try to create rules that you think will be universal. What works with one will not work with another. The hard part of being a parent is navigating those minefields juggling what your child wants with what the child needs and what is best for the child. Lots of balls to keep in the air...

No answers here.

Michael Hackett
04-06-2011, 12:59 PM
My grandson wanted to try Aikido and we worked out an understanding. He agreed to attend every class practical for six months and then could choose to quit if he desired. He trained for about nine months and then asked to try karate instead with the same understanding. That lasted six months and for the past five or six years he's been shredding on his guitar, writing music and teaching others. Music turned out to be his passion. He gave the martial arts a fair try, but guitar became consuming to him. No complaints here.

Dave de Vos
04-06-2011, 03:05 PM
I don't think you can make your child love what you love by forcing him/her.

Me and my wife have one kid. He is almost 8 years old. If he wants to try something new, he can, but in return he has to commit to it. First we let him try it for a lesson or two. If he still thinks he wants to continue, he has to do it for at least half a year. We have done it this way since he was 5 years old.

He started with athletics. He was not very good, but he really liked it and he did it for a year.

Then we had him quit athletics to take swimming lessons. When he got his first diploma, we let him choose if he wanted to continue for the second diploma. He chose to do that and after half a year he got it, but then he did not want to continue for the third.

Then he wanted to do karate. He has been doing that for a year now (red belt). Most of the time he really likes to go, but even when he does not feel like it, he still has to go and train seriously. I think he will quit karate this summer though. He is thinking about going back to athletics. He actually wants to do ninjitsu because he thinks the weapons are supercool, but we won't allow it because we think he is much too young for that.

He does not have much interest in my passions: aikido and go. I might be able to teach him to be a youth champion in the Netherlands, but he does not love it like I do, so I don't push him. He loves meeting friends of his age at go seminars and we practise every now and then at home, but that's all. Ofcourse I still hope his interest in go will grow when he gets older, but I'm not counting on it. Either way is ok. He is not me.

senshincenter
04-06-2011, 03:20 PM
As I said, as moderns we have a tough time moving beyond thinking that commitment, the reconciliation of boredom, and the cultivation of discipline can only be generated by matching what we do with what we love or by forcing ourselves (like some sort of abuse).

Nothing in the list says "force" the kid - but you've read it that way because that is how modernity understands self-discipline today.

At the same time, folks that are writing thus far are describing kids that have quit Aikido and/or that have dabbled in a myriad of art forms/practices. Though not "forced," they certainly remain unskilled at Aikido if they have quit it and moved on to something else.

For the record, I have three kids, and have ran a kids program for 11 years now. All of my kids practice Aikido. None of them hate me. They train in Aikido beyond the child-based whims and misunderstandings of love and hate. They just do it because that is what we do.

Yes, any skill could be replaced for the word "Aikido" on the list.

lbb
04-06-2011, 03:35 PM
How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido:

No child is going to be good at aikido. Not really. Parents who expect them to be good are either deluding themselves about what "good" is, or setting an unreasonable expectation.


- Fail to clearly, directly, and immediately address all demonstrations of half-effort, poor concentration, and improper mindset.

"Clearly" and "directly" are fine, as long as you, the parent, know what "half-effort, poor concentration and improper mindset" are, particularly in an aikido context. "Immediately"? No. You, the parent, are not teaching the class, and you shouldn't interfere with the teaching of the class. You can say your say when class is over.

senshincenter
04-06-2011, 03:53 PM
No child is going to be good at aikido. Not really. Parents who expect them to be good are either deluding themselves about what "good" is, or setting an unreasonable expectation.

"Clearly" and "directly" are fine, as long as you, the parent, know what "half-effort, poor concentration and improper mindset" are, particularly in an aikido context. "Immediately"? No. You, the parent, are not teaching the class, and you shouldn't interfere with the teaching of the class. You can say your say when class is over.

Wow! That's the spirit - no kid will be good at Aikido.

Yes, common sense went unsaid: Parent's should not interrupt class. "Immediately" meant "after class as reasonably possible."

David Board
04-06-2011, 04:38 PM
As I said, as moderns we have a tough time moving beyond thinking that commitment, the reconciliation of boredom, and the cultivation of discipline can only be generated by matching what we do with what we love or by forcing ourselves (like some sort of abuse).

Nothing in the list says "force" the kid - but you've read it that way because that is how modernity understands self-discipline today.

At the same time, folks that are writing thus far are describing kids that have quit Aikido and/or that have dabbled in a myriad of art forms/practices. Though not "forced," they certainly remain unskilled at Aikido if they have quit it and moved on to something else.

For the record, I have three kids, and have ran a kids program for 11 years now. All of my kids practice Aikido. None of them hate me. They train in Aikido beyond the child-based whims and misunderstandings of love and hate. They just do it because that is what we do.

Yes, any skill could be replaced for the word "Aikido" on the list.

My boys have not quit Aikido. They are not skilled but they are doing better than they were before. They are gaining in skill.

By not allowing a child the option to quit how can that teach self discipline? It is one thing to not allow them to quit for the sake of boredom or that they feel it is "too hard" and another to not allow them to quit. It is one thing to tell them that they need to work through hardship and another to not allow them to quit. One teaches self-discipline and the other teaches them that they have no power to control their lives.

Without the self self-discipline becomes discipline. I would rather not have Aikido become punishment. Aikido may not always be a joy but it shouldn't become a punishment. Aikido shouldn't become a struggle of power between a parent and a child.

Michael Hackett
04-06-2011, 04:40 PM
No kid will be good in Aikido? I disagree. We currently have five or six kids in our youth program who can hold their own with adults in a seminar and have had a few, three or four, who were superb practitioners. Did anyone see Patrick Auge Sensei's kids at the last Aiki Expo? They were outstanding as a group and most were simply excellent themselves.

Keith Larman
04-06-2011, 04:57 PM
I've been teaching kids too long to force my kid to stay when she was clearly not happy. I've seen too many unhappy kids who there doing it solely because the parent thought it was best. Even when it was clearly not something the kid was interested in.

For my daughter it wasn't an issue of "working through something difficult" but was an issue that she really wasn't enjoying it and really wasn't all that interested. We've had those battles before in many other areas including her piano (which she incidentally still does and loves even though there have been rough patches). There was no reason to fight it with aikido simply because I would find it gratifying or convenient to have her doing what I love. The truth was she didn't like it. And the reason she joined was (I think) to make me happy. That was not a good reason for her to be in Aikido, especially when she found that she in fact *really* didn't like it. Quitting is an option in some cases.

senshincenter
04-06-2011, 05:17 PM
We currently have five or six kids in our youth program who can hold their own with adults in a seminar and have had a few, three or four, who were superb practitioners. Did anyone see Patrick Auge Sensei's kids at the last Aiki Expo? They were outstanding as a group and most were simply excellent themselves.

Michael,

Out of those kids that were worthy to mention, were they in sync or out of sync with the list? How about Auge Sensei's child deshi?

d

Marc Abrams
04-06-2011, 05:19 PM
Helping your child to find the "gift within" is one of the most important tasks as a parent. Fostering that awareness and helping the child to develop the internal motivation to excel is the next level up. You can't force the "gift within" upon a child no more than you can force the child to display superior internal motivation to excel in something that the child does not feel within him/herself.

Just my 2 cents and life experiences as a parent of four children (success and failures on my part!), grandparent, psychologist who worked with children for a long time (post doc fellowship in that area).

Marc Abrams

senshincenter
04-06-2011, 05:28 PM
By not allowing a child the option to quit how can that teach self discipline? It is one thing to not allow them to quit for the sake of boredom or that they feel it is "too hard" and another to not allow them to quit. It is one thing to tell them that they need to work through hardship and another to not allow them to quit. One teaches self-discipline and the other teaches them that they have no power to control their lives.

Without the self self-discipline becomes discipline. I would rather not have Aikido become punishment. Aikido may not always be a joy but it shouldn't become a punishment. Aikido shouldn't become a struggle of power between a parent and a child.

Children have lots of places that they have no power to control their lives - it does not teach them to be powerless. That's a modern fallacy. Moreover, there are lots of areas, including areas wherein a child's desire is governed and ran through their guardian's sense of wisdom. Again, this does not ruin children.

Another way of looking at this list, is to go ask someone that you think is good at Aikido - your sensei, for example: Ask them if they have always loved Aikido training, if they never went against their whims and fancy in order to continue training, if everything they ever did and/or accomplished in their Aikiido was done so only at their full and complete volition, etc. See what they say. Or, if you know a master of another trade/art, ask them.

Or, another way, if ask yourself how good little Jonny is going to be when they only commit two hours a week to training, cancel some of those classes during soccer season, decided they like baseball better, and video games, see no reason to train in Aikido outside of techniques on the mat, and then quit.

Sure, you might be able to say he has self-discipline, he's self-empowered, etc., but you won't be saying he's skilled at Aikido. Along the same lines, no matter how many Jonnies we know, one cannot by extension say that any child that sees his/her way through the rigors of sincere training, unlike Jonny, can in no way be self-disciplined, self-empowered, etc.

Michael Hackett
04-06-2011, 06:10 PM
David,

I can't answer your question with any authority. I don't know our parents very well and I don't know what goes on during the ride home. What gets us our results in trying to make the training fun to one degree or another and continually challenging them with something they think is out of reach, but we are confident they can do.

As for Auge Sensei's kids, I have no clue. I was merely a spectator to a very impressive demonstration that evening.

David Board
04-06-2011, 06:26 PM
Children have lots of places that they have no power to control their lives - it does not teach them to be powerless. That's a modern fallacy. Moreover, there are lots of areas, including areas wherein a child's desire is governed and ran through their guardian's sense of wisdom. Again, this does not ruin children.

Another way of looking at this list, is to go ask someone that you think is good at Aikido - your sensei, for example: Ask them if they have always loved Aikido training, if they never went against their whims and fancy in order to continue training, if everything they ever did and/or accomplished in their Aikiido was done so only at their full and complete volition, etc. See what they say. Or, if you know a master of another trade/art, ask them.

Or, another way, if ask yourself how good little Jonny is going to be when they only commit two hours a week to training, cancel some of those classes during soccer season, decided they like baseball better, and video games, see no reason to train in Aikido outside of techniques on the mat, and then quit.

Sure, you might be able to say he has self-discipline, he's self-empowered, etc., but you won't be saying he's skilled at Aikido. Along the same lines, no matter how many Jonnies we know, one cannot by extension say that any child that sees his/her way through the rigors of sincere training, unlike Jonny, can in no way be self-disciplined, self-empowered, etc.

I can see your point in that you can't be good at Aikido if you quit. In fact this is one of the things that kept my oldest boy in Aikido when he wanted to quit. He was feeling too much pressure. I was giving heim to many critiques after class. He expressed this by saying he wanted to quti Aikido. We discussed it and he did want to become good at Aikido. What he needed was more room to fail. He understood that he couldn't do Aikido if he quit. However, quiting was an option for him. If he did not want to become good at Aikido he had the option to quit. He had to know the consequence of that descision but it was his descision. You are right that if he quit he would suck at Aikido.

As a parent, I think it is important to identify when it's right to quit. It can't be as you say on a whim. You need to understand why they want to quit. the reason can be real and reasonable. You may need to persuade, encourage and insist that that they continue if the reason for quitting is not one you find reasonable. But for ne, it is a dialog. I need to listen and understand them. I need to know why they want to quit.

As for asking Sensei those questions. We both know the answer. We both know that they made sacrifices and sweated more than they wanted. We also know that in all likelihood they always had the option to walk away. They always chose to make the sacrifices and loss of personal control. They chose to place their fates into anothers hands. They always had the option to quit. They did not but they could have.

As for time on the mat. We are at the dojo Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and Saturday when it is not Soccer season. We drop the Saturday session which is a little kids class that his brother goes to. If anything he's at the dojo to much. I will agree that two hours is not enough to get better especially if that is the only time that Aikdio is practiced. This week we are down to only two hours because his little brother blew chunks in the dojo parking lot before class but things happen. If we ever fall to a two hours being our regular session we would be discussing quitting something but that something will be his choice.

To be honest, I don't think we are that far from agreement. I just leave the option of quitting on the table. Quitting means they lose Aikido. They lose what Aikdio brings. However that is their choice. I do not view this as a detriment to their training. I have seen to many kids forced to do things their parents think they should and get almost nothing out of it. I've coached to many kids in soccer that are a deterament on the field and a problem in practice to think that forcing them into what they don't want to do is good for them or thier team/dojo mates. To be honest they suck, too.

If this is a modern view so be it. It is a view I have adopted from seeing it in practice. If the sole motivation comes from outside, they will suck and worse they impact those that are are their of their own choice.

Michael Hackett
04-06-2011, 06:32 PM
David,

On further reflection, I think (and emphasize think) that our kids are able to choose another path, but I don't know that for sure. We have a pair of brothers who leave us every baseball season and return - they're both planning on being Big Leaguers someday. We have one set of parents who keep one or both kids off the mat if homework isn't done and that doesn't happen often.

One major thing with us is that no child can be signed up without an interview with both the child and his parents, conducted by our Dojo Cho. I have the privilege of signing up any adult coming through the door, but am required to set up a meeting with Sensei for youthful prospects. Uniquely we are notified when a student is going to be absent or is moving on. Adults just disappear from the face of the Earth, but we almost always know why a kid is no longer with us.

Finally, I think most of your list probably applies to our experience, with the exception of the choice. Hope this helps.

Keith Larman
04-06-2011, 08:37 PM
To rif a bit on Marc's post... I could have put my foot down and told my daughter to suck it up and deal with it. And she would have. She's a good kid. And strong willed. But she likely never would have had the time to get into soccer the way she did had I done that. Now that she's in soccer I've watched my daughter grow in many ways. Her leadership skills, her confidence, her striving to get better, her determination, and the list goes on. That is the gift from within. That is her finding a "do" for realizing what she can do, what she can accomplish, what her limits are, and so forth. All the things I value in my aikido training as a matter of fact.

My point isn't that I disagree all that much with your list. I've insisted on most every one of those things at times during my daughter's life. But... I have allowed her to quit. I do listen to her. No, I don't give in to her every whim. Sometimes I'm the bad guy. Sometimes it's my wife who's the evil one. Either way we try to be consistent *and* listen to her, understand her, see her perspective. When she was 5 it wasn't that difficult. Now that she's 10, well, her feelings, thoughts, etc. are all better formed. Sometimes she needs to make her own decisions. To succeed. To fail. On her own.

I agree with Mr. Bateman's comment above. I think some of us are reacting to the feeling that it seems overbearing.

FWIW I spent a lot of years working in developmental psych. Read all the books, did all sorts of studies, figured it would be a snap having my own child. Nope. My education began the day that little meat loaf looked up at me and smiled. I realized then it was going to be a heck of a lot more complicated than I thought.

So all that said... I agree with much of what you wrote. I'm just not sure I'd be quite as strident as it feels to me when I read your list.

Not everyone is cut out for Aikido. Like all things peoples' interests will vary. You can insist on hard training (have you read the book that caused a stir recently about "Tiger Mom's"?). Sometimes that results in people who are very good at something. Sometimes it results in people who are very good at something who tell you where to stick it at some point and never come back. And sometimes it creates damaged goods IMHO. If you're lucky you have a bunch of kids where that sort of approach resonates with them and builds good people.

But I'm pretty sure it never would have worked with my daughter and Aikido. She's pretty good at the little she learned. Amazing body awareness, reflexes, judgement and athleticism too. Which is precisely why she's so bloody good at soccer. Which she loves. So I'm not all that broken up that she "quit" aikido. She also quite ballet and jazz dancing (pretty darned good at that as well). And she quit art (not so good).

Lyle Laizure
04-06-2011, 09:00 PM
If a child genuinely does not want to be in my class I don't want the child in my class. There is a fine line figuring out whether or not a child should or shouldn't stay in any activity. If a parent knows his/her child the parent should be able to make a the appropriate decision in the best interest of the child. Therein lies the issue. A lot of parents simply aren't aware enough of or engaged enough to appreciate what is best for their children. They only know what they think is good for them.

seank
04-06-2011, 10:12 PM
Back to the OP comments I think there are some excellent ideas there. I started practicing Kyokushin when I was very young in a strict dojo in the traditional sense (you would get whacked across the back of the legs with a shinai if your kiba-dachi was not right, amongst other things). The training was full-on, harsh and always demanding and my brother and I both started under sufferance of our parents.

There was neer a question of motivation or desire to train; if class was on you were there.

Nowadays with a child of my own I take a more relaxed attitude. My son can (and does) practice karate (in a more relaxed environment) and will continue to do so for as long as he wants. He has been to many classes with my wife and I (both practicing Aikido) and he knows that I am an assistant instructor.

Would I ask him to train with us at his young age? No. Will I force him to try Aikido and come to practice at every opportunity? No. Do I hope that he will train with us? Definitely.

I should also explain that we have a high percentage of students that are of secondary school age (13-18 years). Each student varies in terms of their commitment, their understanding of on the mat and off the mat, physical ability, etc. I tend to instruct in the way I was taught - don't ask questions during instruction, train hard and always concentrate on what you are trying to achieve. Most times these kids are more than up to the challenge in this regard.

Thankfully I've not had to contend with any spectator coaching, nor would I tolerate such, but affording children a health amount of respect for their ability and their potential goes a long way to helping the child and assuaging any concerns a parent may have.

I firmly believe that children are inherently better adapted to Aikido because they come to the mat with no pre-conceptions, most are willing to listen and learn, they are flexible and for the most part fit enough to really engage with their training. Mostly though, kids pick things up exceptionally quickly. I've lost count the number of times I've seen younger students pick up a technique and run with it where an older student would struggle.

lbb
04-07-2011, 07:34 AM
Wow! That's the spirit - no kid will be good at Aikido.

Do you truly feel that any kid is "good" at aikido by an adult standard? Or are you thinking of a different, kids-only definition of "good"?

oisin bourke
04-07-2011, 07:53 AM
I firmly believe that children are inherently better adapted to Aikido because they come to the mat with no pre-conceptions, most are willing to listen and learn, they are flexible and for the most part fit enough to really engage with their training. Mostly though, kids pick things up exceptionally quickly. I've lost count the number of times I've seen younger students pick up a technique and run with it where an older student would struggle.

My Daito Ryu teacher shares the same opinion. He is very strict in technique especially with the kids, but apart from that, he's very gentle and tolerant with them. He'll make everyone sit down, call up a kid to demonstrate a technique and remonstrate to the adults: "That's what you should be doing! You are using to much muscle!" If you are overbearing, kids (and adults) tend to stiffen up, which is the kiss of death for developing Aiki IME.

senshincenter
04-07-2011, 10:56 AM
I can see your point in that you can't be good at Aikido if you quit. In fact this is one of the things that kept my oldest boy in Aikido when he wanted to quit. He was feeling too much pressure. I was giving heim to many critiques after class. He expressed this by saying he wanted to quti Aikido. We discussed it and he did want to become good at Aikido. What he needed was more room to fail. He understood that he couldn't do Aikido if he quit. However, quiting was an option for him. If he did not want to become good at Aikido he had the option to quit. He had to know the consequence of that descision but it was his descision. You are right that if he quit he would suck at Aikido.

As a parent, I think it is important to identify when it's right to quit. It can't be as you say on a whim. You need to understand why they want to quit. the reason can be real and reasonable. You may need to persuade, encourage and insist that that they continue if the reason for quitting is not one you find reasonable. But for ne, it is a dialog. I need to listen and understand them. I need to know why they want to quit.

As for asking Sensei those questions. We both know the answer. We both know that they made sacrifices and sweated more than they wanted. We also know that in all likelihood they always had the option to walk away. They always chose to make the sacrifices and loss of personal control. They chose to place their fates into anothers hands. They always had the option to quit. They did not but they could have.

As for time on the mat. We are at the dojo Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and Saturday when it is not Soccer season. We drop the Saturday session which is a little kids class that his brother goes to. If anything he's at the dojo to much. I will agree that two hours is not enough to get better especially if that is the only time that Aikdio is practiced. This week we are down to only two hours because his little brother blew chunks in the dojo parking lot before class but things happen. If we ever fall to a two hours being our regular session we would be discussing quitting something but that something will be his choice.

To be honest, I don't think we are that far from agreement. I just leave the option of quitting on the table. Quitting means they lose Aikido. They lose what Aikdio brings. However that is their choice. I do not view this as a detriment to their training. I have seen to many kids forced to do things their parents think they should and get almost nothing out of it. I've coached to many kids in soccer that are a deterament on the field and a problem in practice to think that forcing them into what they don't want to do is good for them or thier team/dojo mates. To be honest they suck, too.

If this is a modern view so be it. It is a view I have adopted from seeing it in practice. If the sole motivation comes from outside, they will suck and worse they impact those that are are their of their own choice.

No. I don't think we are far from agreement either. Remember, I never said "foce." I actually denounced "forcing" as a problem of the modern Man being unable to see their way through the two poles of possible options.

What I mean by having quitting not be an option is very much what you are doing - being creative and proactive. That is to say, that commitment is first and foremost about a decision one makes before hand. From there, one works, thinks, lives, speaks, and feels according that that decision being what one will hold true to. Thus, a committed deshi, even a child deshi by the direction of one's parents, does things that help one's commitment become stronger and able to support deeper and deeper levels of commitment. This isn't necessarily a matter of saying "No" to someone's "Yes," though it may be. More likely though, on an everyday level, it's about acting in such a way that the possibility of Yes or No never comes to fruition. It is a matter of training just because that is what we do - we train. That can't be accomplished when quitting is a philosophical option for us - especially for the child. And, for many folks, especially parents of child deshi, they don't get this. They never work to orchestrate their child's training so that it moves beyond the issues of "shall he/she train" or "shall he/she not train."

For them, quitting always remains possible, and as such it always remains firmly in place in the child's practice and in their experience of practice. As a result, like with all practices requiring discipline, as soon as the child changes their likes, as with all uncommitted people, they lose their commitment to training. End result: They suck at Aikido.

senshincenter
04-07-2011, 11:01 AM
Do you truly feel that any kid is "good" at aikido by an adult standard? Or are you thinking of a different, kids-only definition of "good"?

Yes, as for me the ultimate goal of Aikido is oneness with God, and a child has for example limited experience their own mortality and thus one of the major issues of existence, I am looking at "good" here from a child's point of view. "Good" in that sense refers to a child that is well on their way to building a foundation upon which they can continue to build a oneness with God.

senshincenter
04-07-2011, 11:06 AM
My whole family trains. My whole family eats. We run our life, my wife and I, so that "family" and "togetherness" has including training and eating. As a result, without forcing anyone, we train together and we eat together. This running of one's life so that training adds to life and is added to by life is what is missing in parents that have their children start Aikido only to quit it.

lbb
04-07-2011, 11:22 AM
Yes, as for me the ultimate goal of Aikido is oneness with God, and a child has for example limited experience their own mortality and thus one of the major issues of existence, I am looking at "good" here from a child's point of view. "Good" in that sense refers to a child that is well on their way to building a foundation upon which they can continue to build a oneness with God.

OK, I think I understand what you're saying. I'm glad I asked, because I think that when you say "good at Aikido", most people probably think you're referring to martial skill. We could have a long debate about whether "oneness with God", by any definition, is the purpose of Aikido. My own feeling is that there is neither a singular consensus nor a universally accepted authority that could tell us authoritatively what the purpose of aikido is, and that any such debates are really taking place in the realm of "should be", if we're being honest. The practical reality is that every person who steps onto the mat brings their own purpose with them. Children, in addition, are usually at least partly driven by the purposes of others -- sometimes so much that it's hard to see what their own desires are. I don't think many children are seeking oneness with God, at least not of their own volition, but that's neither here nor there. If oneness with God is the goal of aikido, why would it matter if a child (or anyone else) quits aikido practice? Maybe they've found a better path.

Conrad Gus
04-07-2011, 12:16 PM
I love training with my kids. My kids love training.

I think if I took away our current training focus and replaced it with a fear of "sucking", it's the training that would begin to suck.

As my Sensei always said, "Relax".

senshincenter
04-07-2011, 03:35 PM
I love training with my kids. My kids love training.

I think if I took away our current training focus and replaced it with a fear of "sucking", it's the training that would begin to suck.

As my Sensei always said, "Relax".

I don't think recognizing the natural order of the universe regarding the obtaining of skill, and the distancing of oneself away from "sucking," as being afraid. On the other hand, I do think trying to ignore this natural order and hoping or wishing it did not exist is a fear response.

In other words, if the order is what the order is, and if one is not afraid of it, and if one is fine not fulling what needs to be fulfilled in order to become skillful, then one should just be fine being unskilled (i.e. sucking). Personally, I'm fine with that as an instructor.

If parents would come in and say: "You know what? Jonny can only train two hours per week, and only half of that during soccer season. If he does music and football this year, even less then. He is allowed to eat at Mc-D's every day, ordering large shakes with every meal, everything surpersized. He spends most of his time on the couch playing video games. At home we have a might-is-right arbitrarily power-based hierarchy through which all relationships and matters of conflict contained therein are decided. That is what Jonny is used to. As a result, Jonny, like most of the modern world, has an ungrounded sense of entitlement. Additionally, I know Jonny is going to get bored with Aikido soon - especially when it becomes challenging for him (and for me to keep him training - to be honest). If the training requires him to face his fear or his pride, a repulsion to training will start almost immediately. At that time, he'll act like he likes something else more or better. In time, he'll hate Aikido. Then he'll quit. I know this is not the order of the universe on how to gain skill. I know Jonny will suck at Aikido. Will you still let him train here?"

I'd say, "Sure. Jonny can hang out with us till he gets bored, afraid, or has his pride exposed."

Basia Halliop
04-07-2011, 04:06 PM
Mainly what I question is the presumption that it's terribly important for kids to 'not suck at aikido'. Personally *I* get a lot out of aikido but that's personal and subjective I don't see it as necessarily important for everyone else to do it or be good at it, especially a child. For some it's a very positive thing in their lives, but it is no where near my list of things that _everyone_ should do. For the children I know and care about, there are other priorities and things I want for them. If some specific activity, like aikido, helps that child get those things, then I'm in favour, if not, then it doesn't really matter.

If that list was about something I found more 'universal' then maybe I might agree -- e.g. I can imagine reacting differently if this was about a child learning to act respectfully and empathetically towards other human beings or be physically active and eat healthy foods or perhaps to read and write and do math.... But aikido? Nope, not at all. Let them go ahead and suck at aikido. When they're older they can decide for themselves if it happens to be something they want to do.

Probably has to do with the differing interpretations of what aikido is, as discussed, and what being good at it entails.

lbb
04-07-2011, 04:14 PM
I don't think recognizing the natural order of the universe regarding the obtaining of skill, and the distancing of oneself away from "sucking," as being afraid. On the other hand, I do think trying to ignore this natural order and hoping or wishing it did not exist is a fear response.

In other words, if the order is what the order is, and if one is not afraid of it, and if one is fine not fulling what needs to be fulfilled in order to become skillful, then one should just be fine being unskilled (i.e. sucking). Personally, I'm fine with that as an instructor.


"Much virtue in If", indeed. You're the one who used the word "suck", David -- I do hope you're not so disingenuous as to pretend that it is a value-neutral term meaning merely "unskilled".

jeremymcmillan
04-07-2011, 04:31 PM
Sometimes when I'm roughhousing with my 4yo daughter, she chases me around the house. I'll lead her into the living room wherever there's some space, and turn to face her. Then I give her the deer in the headlights look "Oh noes! You caught me!" As her eyes light up with anticipation, I lunge just outside the grasp of whatever hand she's reaching with, tenkan brushing her hand gently out of the way with my leading hand, pivot and then laugh as I run away toward the kitchen where, of course, there's room to do it again.

Last week she got wise and stopped to ask sincerely: "Papa? How do you do that? Can you teach me that?"

I told her "That's Aikido. I learned that at the dojo. When you get a little older, and you're ready to follow directions you can come with me and learn it."

Eva Antonia
04-08-2011, 03:11 AM
Hello,

I had four kids doing aikido for some time, and all of them quit. My big son started on his own initiative at 8, and he loved it...for three years. The last year was agony. I didn't want him to quit, I thought he was really talented, and he was certainly up to spar with adults. Not all techniques, because of the difference in height and weight, but certainly all those including wrist locks. He was incredibly swift and fluent.

And then he just didn't want anymore. He started to quarrel on the mat, he was annoying his partners, he was completely unmotivated, and I didn't see any sense in dragging him to aikido if it had lost its meaning to him and he was a nuisance to the others. But I still regret he didn't pursue aikido, and I still hope he'll take it up again.

As to the other kids...they all took it up because their older brother and I went, and none of them really liked it. They tried not very hard, and they achieved nothing. But all three of them love music, each of them plays an instrument, there are never discussions if they should or should not go to music lessons; they pick up the flute or the violin at 07.00 in the morning...it's just a great difference from aikido. You have to take them as they are.

Best regards,

Eva

SteliosPapadakis
04-08-2011, 05:42 AM
We never had an aikido-for-kids class on its own. During the past 7 years many kids have come to join our adult classes, anything from 8-15 years of age. None stayed more than a couple of weeks.
At first i attributed it to the fact that the children had no other children to "play with". They found no much interest in doing things with "grown ups".
Then i though it was just because their parents "insisted" on them following a martial art's path. They did not want that in the first place so they eventually found the courage to tell their parents and quit.
Lately i believe it is just a matter of personal orientation. I mean, the percentage of CHILDREN that have come to do aikido and quit does not exaggerate the percentage of ADULTS that have come to do aikido and eventually quit after a week or two.
Some people like it, some do not.
A couple of teenagers came to join our class a month ago, good friends since kindergarden. One quit within a week, the other really seems to like aikido and never misses a class, is always on time and the sort. He might stay for good, i reckon...
At the end of the day, i sincerelly believe it is a matter of personal choice, and age might not have THAT much to do with it.

amoeba
04-12-2011, 08:54 AM
Well, personally I just don't believe that you should treat children as adults on the mat. The children I teach have such a lot of work and pressure at school (and some of them at home), we just try to show them some of what we do, but still let them be children, play and have fun. And if they don't like to train, then I don't think they should be forced. We had some children who were "motivated" by their parents and it never worked out!
And I'd never, ever tell a child after training what it's done wrong! Even in class, I try to work with positive reinforcement ("That's very good already, but could you maybe try to...?") instead of criticizing them.

By the way, we got some very good children in that way who do not 'suck' at all. They can train with the adults, have stuck around for as long as our dojo's old - and the youngest one has only just turned ten. I don't believe their parents know anything about martial arts, they just let them do what they like by their own free will.

I don't mean that you should take your children out of training immediately when they're not motivated for a few weeks or so. But if they really don't want to do it, it doesn't make any sense!

senshincenter
04-12-2011, 10:00 AM
We had some children who were "motivated" by their parents and it never worked out!

That is where the world is today - what I would call "Parenting Light." Usually, when I am faced with a problem that I need to solve, I try to find different ways of solving it once my earlier attempts to solve it fail. I don't make a jump in logic from "my attempt failed" to "the problem ceases to exist."

For me, saying that motivation never works, and then jumping to only letting kids do what they want or like, and forgetting that that child is going to have to learn to do a lot of things they don't want to do or like in their lives in order to grow, be fulfilled, to stay well, and to succeed, is copping out of one's parenting role.

Rather, what a parent needs to do is figure out how to be more productive in light of the big picture (the overall wellness and needs of the child) and in light of one's desires (e.g. want them to study in Aikido) - to not quit themselves at the parenting role of forging their child's character because at first glance they can't solve the riddle of getting away from the poles of forcing the child against their will or appeasing the every whim.

lbb
04-12-2011, 10:35 AM
David, don't forget about the problem of dogs and cats living together, while you're at it.

senshincenter
04-12-2011, 10:48 AM
David, don't forget about the problem of dogs and cats living together, while you're at it.

Or this one:

http://youtu.be/G0wYaXYwP-w

:)

Basia Halliop
04-12-2011, 11:27 AM
And I'd never, ever tell a child after training what it's done wrong! Even in class, I try to work with positive reinforcement ("That's very good already, but could you maybe try to...?") instead of criticizing them.

Personally I don't find this so helpful, although I'm sure it depends so much on the details and your tone when you say these things. I don't like to make pointing out errors into such a big deal, either with adults OR with kids - that's what it feels like to me if you avoid ever saying something's an error or talk very carefully around mistakes instead of just saying that's not where that foot goes, etc. It feels like saying it's such a terrible thing to make an error we have to pretend no one ever does - but they still know they do so why not just tell that bit wasn't right but keep acting like it's normal and they just have to keep practicing and trying and in time they'll get it better and better? Of course it's good to focus lots on all the things they're doing right (especially things like being persistent and not giving up when something's hard!), and when you point out errors you point out things that are within their grasp and celebrate any time they improve at all, but why should it be such a bad thing if you sometimes do some part wrong? We're just learning after all, and there's no shame in making mistakes as you learn. That's part of how you learn.

Basia Halliop
04-12-2011, 11:37 AM
If you think aikido is important for _everyone_ to do, or specifically you think it's very important for your kids to do, then naturally you will do what you need to to make it work.

If I had a kid who didn't want to read, I wouldn't give up -- I'd make sure they learned to read and I'd keep working at it until I found a way to get them not only to read but to like it and want to read.

But to me and to many other people, aikido is simply not one of those things. It's very important for some people and not at all important for others. I know many adults who I don't think would particularly benefit from doing it and likewise many kids. And to me one of the things that makes it most important to me is the fact that my motivation for doing it has always come entirely from me, unlike most things in my life. One of my nephews has been old enough for the past year to be in our aikido kids' class... but I don't really think it would suit him or benefit him particularly... perhaps when he gets older or when my other nephew is old enough I'll feel differently about that and try to get him and his parents interested in it, but for now I don't think that's what's best.

lbb
04-12-2011, 04:01 PM
I think there's also the danger of selective hindsight. Adults who discover a pastime they love often say, "I wish I'd started this when I was a kid." That assumes that the child would have loved what the adult loves, and that's by no means a given. You weren't then what you are now.

amoeba
04-13-2011, 03:07 AM
For me, saying that motivation never works, and then jumping to only letting kids do what they want or like, and forgetting that that child is going to have to learn to do a lot of things they don't want to do or like in their lives in order to grow, be fulfilled, to stay well, and to succeed, is copping out of one's parenting role.

Rather, what a parent needs to do is figure out how to be more productive in light of the big picture (the overall wellness and needs of the child) and in light of one's desires (e.g. want them to study in Aikido) - to not quit themselves at the parenting role of forging their child's character because at first glance they can't solve the riddle of getting away from the poles of forcing the child against their will or appeasing the every whim.

For me, Aikido is something we all do in our free time because we want to. It's bad enough that children have to do so many things they do not like - Aikido should not be one of them!
And, anyway, I do not believe that children need Aikido to do well in their lives. For some of them, it just doesn't work out. Then they can do something else instead - play an instrument, play soccer, whatever. I wouldn't want them to switch focus every few months, but there's nothing wrong with trying different things out until you find what suits you.

Personally I don't find this so helpful, although I'm sure it depends so much on the details and your tone when you say these things. I don't like to make pointing out errors into such a big deal, either with adults OR with kids - that's what it feels like to me if you avoid ever saying something's an error or talk very carefully around mistakes instead of just saying that's not where that foot goes, etc. It feels like saying it's such a terrible thing to make an error we have to pretend no one ever does - but they still know they do so why not just tell that bit wasn't right but keep acting like it's normal and they just have to keep practicing and trying and in time they'll get it better and better? Of course it's good to focus lots on all the things they're doing right (especially things like being persistent and not giving up when something's hard!), and when you point out errors you point out things that are within their grasp and celebrate any time they improve at all, but why should it be such a bad thing if you sometimes do some part wrong? We're just learning after all, and there's no shame in making mistakes as you learn. That's part of how you learn.

No, of course we tell them stuff like "You have the wrong foot in front", and stuff like that. But there are things that you cannot change so easily, like e.g. rolling or body posture. If we tell them they're not doing it well and they're not capable of changing it, it gets frustrating. Then we try to go for "It would be even better if..." or something along that line.

Something else: normally with our children it becomes clear pretty fast who is into Aikido and who isn't. The children that decide to come back after their two trial lessons normally stick around. The other ones don't even start. So I don't feel that much depends on "whims" - they can decide what they want to do quite well!

Basia Halliop
04-13-2011, 03:55 PM
I wouldn't want them to switch focus every few months, but there's nothing wrong with trying different things out until you find what suits you.

I'd go further and say go ahead and let them switch focus in their hobbies every few months. That's part of what childhood is for. Save the continuity and work ethic for school, helping with chores around the house, or volunteer work - they can keep plenty busy with such things as it is. In their free time let them play and explore to their fickle little hearts' content.

David Orange
04-13-2011, 08:42 PM
I don't think recognizing the natural order of the universe regarding the obtaining of skill, and the distancing of oneself away from "sucking," as being afraid. On the other hand, I do think trying to ignore this natural order and hoping or wishing it did not exist is a fear response.

In other words, if the order is what the order is, and if one is not afraid of it, and if one is fine not fulling what needs to be fulfilled in order to become skillful, then one should just be fine being unskilled (i.e. sucking). Personally, I'm fine with that as an instructor.

I'd say, "Sure. Jonny can hang out with us till he gets bored, afraid, or has his pride exposed."

David,

I don't know how to approach this other than straight ahead. Frankly, I've watched a number of your videos and I see a glaring mistake that runs through most of your demonstrations: you lean forward quite a bit. Before the uke moves toward you, you're usually leaning toward him. When pinning the uke, you're almost always way forward of your center.

I don't know why you feel that you need to criticize children so much, but I think these things are related.

In Budo.

David

SteliosPapadakis
04-14-2011, 06:23 AM
Well, personally I just don't believe that you should treat children as adults on the mat. The children I teach have such a lot of work and pressure at school (and some of them at home), we just try to show them some of what we do, but still let them be children, play and have fun. And if they don't like to train, then I don't think they should be forced. We had some children who were "motivated" by their parents and it never worked out!
And I'd never, ever tell a child after training what it's done wrong! Even in class, I try to work with positive reinforcement ("That's very good already, but could you maybe try to...?") instead of criticizing them.

By the way, we got some very good children in that way who do not 'suck' at all. They can train with the adults, have stuck around for as long as our dojo's old - and the youngest one has only just turned ten. I don't believe their parents know anything about martial arts, they just let them do what they like by their own free will.

I don't mean that you should take your children out of training immediately when they're not motivated for a few weeks or so. But if they really don't want to do it, it doesn't make any sense!

;)

lbb
04-14-2011, 07:16 AM
I'd go further and say go ahead and let them switch focus in their hobbies every few months. That's part of what childhood is for. Save the continuity and work ethic for school, helping with chores around the house, or volunteer work - they can keep plenty busy with such things as it is. In their free time let them play and explore to their fickle little hearts' content.

I agree with this: kids need a break from strongly structured activities with a careerist focus, just like adults do. With the decline in unstructured creative play, there's a need not being met. Now, you may be of the belief that that's not an appropriate way to approach aikido, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that -- there is merit in the argument that when you teach someone a martial art, you are giving them the tools to put a hurtin' on other people, and it's got to be approached in a serious and structured manner. But if you are of this belief, then the conclusion is that you shouldn't be trying to teach martial arts to children at all, not if what you're teaching is the real deal and not play group in white pajamas -- again, a valid POV, I believe. I don't have a strong opinion either way -- I think it hinges on what the definition of "aikido training" is, and whether you have a different definition for children than you do for adults. I don't think that many kids are at all suited for training in the mode that is appropriate for adults, and of those few kids who can do this training, IME they do best when they do it in small, measured doses, without any solid expectations of outcome, and where that is not their sole exposure to "aikido".

senshincenter
04-14-2011, 10:32 AM
While it's always interesting, and perhaps often important, I think it's a different topic to decide what Aikido is here. Meaning, it's not really necessary here. The list isn't saying one can't suck at Aikido, or even that one should not suck at Aikido. It's more of a recipe for sucking at Aikido. In fact, if one wanted to suck at Aikido, one can look at it as a positive "what to do" list.

The problem is though deep down folks don't want to suck at Aikido. Adults don't want that. Parent's of child practitioners don't want that for their children. And the child practitioner doesn't want that either. And what makes the list so charged for some readers is that deeper down, even under the desire to not want to suck at Aikido, is an underlying sense of entitlement that is part of the modern world: That one can get something for nothing.

If we didn't have these things we should be able to read the list just like we can read a recipe for chocolate cake.

senshincenter
04-14-2011, 10:36 AM
David,

I don't know how to approach this other than straight ahead. Frankly, I've watched a number of your videos and I see a glaring mistake that runs through most of your demonstrations: you lean forward quite a bit. Before the uke moves toward you, you're usually leaning toward him. When pinning the uke, you're almost always way forward of your center.

I don't know why you feel that you need to criticize children so much, but I think these things are related.

In Budo.

David

Yes, I lean forward than most current practitioners today. Whether it's a mistake is up for debate and the topic of another thread, but it is by choice on my part.

David Orange
04-14-2011, 11:32 AM
Yes, I lean forward than most current practitioners today. Whether it's a mistake is up for debate and the topic of another thread, but it is by choice on my part.

Why do you specify "most current practitioners today"? Not leaning is a hallmark of aikido from the beginning. It's a hallmark of all budo. To lean in any direction is unstable, so I can't see where there's any room to debate whether it's a mistake. And I don't see why it would be a matter for another thread because a fundamental error in technique is also a sure way to develop (in your words) "sucking" at aikido.

In particular, to lean forward in all areas of technique is a weak point physically, making it difficult to change intent and direction, but it also shows an aggressive mind that is antithetical to the mushin required to adapt instantly to an attacker's ability to change.

And you're showing that kind of aggression in your criticism of children, as well.

With children, especially, I think it's necessary to cultivate what they do right and help that to grow so strong that it outgrows their less helpful tendencies. This way, their aikido emerges from their nature and is not forced on them from the outside.

In budo.

David

Conrad Gus
04-14-2011, 01:01 PM
David Valadez,

I just had a fairly careful read of some of the stuff on the FAQ on your website (http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/dojoinfo/faq.html). I think I understand where you are coming from a little bit better now.

Specifically, out of the four questions addressed on the FAQ, two of them have to do with the perceived severity of the training:

I love to practice Aikido, but I do not like to take it so seriously, can't I train in a more jovial manner?

The dojo's culture (e.g. its etiquette and protocols) stresses me out. I hate it. I now seem to avoid it as much as I can. What can I do?

Your responses (I assume it was you) are clear and well-reasoned. I have trained briefly with Chiba Sensei and I know students of his, so I am a little bit acquainted with his approach and I do have respect for it (if that is indeed the tradition that informs your dojo's approach).

Having said that, it's not my cup of tea necessarily, nor would my kids enjoy that approach, but the beauty of aikido is that we can be flexible and find the approach that works best for each of us. We are aikido RICH in this day and age!

Anyway, you have my deep respect for the seriousness with which you and your kids take your training. If you say it works well for you and for them, I have no reason to disbelieve your claim (your kids are probably very different in personality from my own, naturally).

Unfortunately, the way you framed the OP makes it sound like you feel like a lighter approach may not be an effective way to learn aikido. I disagree with this idea, as do (apparently) many others on this thread.

Sincerely,

Conrad Gustafson

senshincenter
04-14-2011, 02:33 PM
Why do you specify "most current practitioners today"? Not leaning is a hallmark of aikido from the beginning. It's a hallmark of all budo. To lean in any direction is unstable, so I can't see where there's any room to debate whether it's a mistake. And I don't see why it would be a matter for another thread because a fundamental error in technique is also a sure way to develop (in your words) "sucking" at aikido.

In particular, to lean forward in all areas of technique is a weak point physically, making it difficult to change intent and direction, but it also shows an aggressive mind that is antithetical to the mushin required to adapt instantly to an attacker's ability to change.

And you're showing that kind of aggression in your criticism of children, as well.

With children, especially, I think it's necessary to cultivate what they do right and help that to grow so strong that it outgrows their less helpful tendencies. This way, their aikido emerges from their nature and is not forced on them from the outside.

In budo.

David

I don't see the list as being critical of children - it is what it is.

I only see you being critical of my posture. And if being critical is an aggressive act (which I may not believe is always true) then the only one being aggressive would be you (though I do not see you as such). I welcome your opinion, even of my form.

As for leaning, and especially in opposition to standing straight up, I don't believe the erect posture we see so much today is correct because it is not martially viable. It's fine in controlled environments but not so much outside of it. One can also see woodblock prints of early budo practitioners that show a lean, as well as Osensei himself in the Asahi film. So I would not say an erect posture is a hallmark of Aikido or of Budo - though I will acknowledge it is common.

I'll start a new thread on the leaning.

senshincenter
04-14-2011, 02:40 PM
David Valadez,

I just had a fairly careful read of some of the stuff on the FAQ on your website (http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/dojoinfo/faq.html). I think I understand where you are coming from a little bit better now.

Specifically, out of the four questions addressed on the FAQ, two of them have to do with the perceived severity of the training:

Your responses (I assume it was you) are clear and well-reasoned. I have trained briefly with Chiba Sensei and I know students of his, so I am a little bit acquainted with his approach and I do have respect for it (if that is indeed the tradition that informs your dojo's approach).

Having said that, it's not my cup of tea necessarily, nor would my kids enjoy that approach, but the beauty of aikido is that we can be flexible and find the approach that works best for each of us. We are aikido RICH in this day and age!

Anyway, you have my deep respect for the seriousness with which you and your kids take your training. If you say it works well for you and for them, I have no reason to disbelieve your claim (your kids are probably very different in personality from my own, naturally).

Unfortunately, the way you framed the OP makes it sound like you feel like a lighter approach may not be an effective way to learn aikido. I disagree with this idea, as do (apparently) many others on this thread.

Sincerely,

Conrad Gustafson

Thank you for the reply.

I think the reader has to be aware of what they are bringing to the OP. As such, I think it would not be accurate to describe our program as "not fun" or as something that might be thought of as deadly serious. It is however about commitment. And commitment can't be cultivated the same way for everyone or even the same way always for a given person. Nevertheless, commitment must be present for someone to become skilled at anything. That is the starting point of all skill. As such, it only follows that a lack of commitment is the starting point for all lack of skill.

It has been the readers up to now that have brought a oppositional nature between commitment and fun, wherein "forced" is the only understanding one seems to have of commitment. I would not agree. Commitment is not the opposite of fun. I would also not agree that being forced is commitment.

As I said, one has to be creative, imaginative, and proactive to figure out how one can see commitment as a positive experience and thus as the origin of their skill acquisition. The thing I see however is that most parents don't see this problem for what it is, they don't try and solve it, and the alternative they usually come up with only has the child quit Aikido (i.e. not becoming skilled at Aikido).

David Orange
04-14-2011, 03:18 PM
As for leaning, and especially in opposition to standing straight up, I don't believe the erect posture we see so much today is correct because it is not martially viable. It's fine in controlled environments but not so much outside of it. One can also see woodblock prints of early budo practitioners that show a lean, as well as Osensei himself in the Asahi film. So I would not say an erect posture is a hallmark of Aikido or of Budo - though I will acknowledge it is common.

I just watched the 9:43 version of the Asahi film and I didn't see a single instance of O Sensei leaning toward the attacker except where he had just thrown someone and a second attacker approached before he returned to full upright posture, which he displayed for virtually the entire film.

I don't know of any high level aikidoka who leans toward the attacker. The only time I have ever seen it is in people of up to about nidan and it's easy to make those people lose balance by feinting.

The upright posture is a hallmark of all asian martial arts. Shoulders align with hips in aikido, kendo, kenjutsu, tai chi, bagua, xing yi and every other traditional art I know of. It's not a modern thing by any means. The modern corruption is to lean. Shoulders not above the hips means more work for the lower back and it's harder to move in any direction except the direction in which you're leaning.

It's fine to have a hard-line attitude toward training, but when applied to a technically incorrect practice, it only multiplies the error.

David

Basia Halliop
04-14-2011, 03:26 PM
Nevertheless, commitment must be present for someone to become skilled at anything. That is the starting point of all skill.

Assuming for a moment we accept that:

As such, it only follows that a lack of commitment is the starting point for all lack of skill.
That does not follow logically from your first statement.

If A is a necessary condition for B, then it in no way follows that if B is not true that we can know a priori whether or not A is true. Knowing that B is false provides no information about A. E.g. there may be additional necessary conditions.

senshincenter
04-14-2011, 04:02 PM
I just watched the 9:43 version of the Asahi film and I didn't see a single instance of O Sensei leaning toward the attacker except where he had just thrown someone and a second attacker approached before he returned to full upright posture, which he displayed for virtually the entire film.

I don't know of any high level aikidoka who leans toward the attacker. The only time I have ever seen it is in people of up to about nidan and it's easy to make those people lose balance by feinting.

The upright posture is a hallmark of all asian martial arts. Shoulders align with hips in aikido, kendo, kenjutsu, tai chi, bagua, xing yi and every other traditional art I know of. It's not a modern thing by any means. The modern corruption is to lean. Shoulders not above the hips means more work for the lower back and it's harder to move in any direction except the direction in which you're leaning.

It's fine to have a hard-line attitude toward training, but when applied to a technically incorrect practice, it only multiplies the error.

David

I posted the other thread.

senshincenter
04-14-2011, 04:06 PM
Assuming for a moment we accept that:

That does not follow logically from your first statement.

If A is a necessary condition for B, then it in no way follows that if B is not true that we can know a priori whether or not A is true. Knowing that B is false provides no information about A. E.g. there may be additional necessary conditions.

I saw it more as if A is necessary for B, then non-A leads to non-B.

Or in plain speak: If you quit, and you are not on the mat, you are not continuing to be skilled, or you are not becoming skilled if you were not skilled in the first place.

Since Aikido is a perishable skill, time not on the mat, or quitting altogether, is going to lead to one being unskilled. It's not rocket science. If you don't train, you don't get good. To continue to train is to practice commitment. To not train or to quit training is to not have commitment. Not sure what is so confusing.

Dave de Vos
04-14-2011, 04:15 PM
David,

I don't understand why you chose the term "sucking" to make your point. You seem to indicate that by "sucking", you mean "to be unskilled". I'm not a native english speaker, but for me those terms have very different connotations.
To me, "being unskilled" is a neutral term, leaving open the possibility to aquire skill by commitment, while "sucking" is a value judgement, suggesting that acquiring skill is unlikely because of incompetence.

If I take the term "sucking" as equivalent to being "unskilled", I still have difficulty with understanding your point of view. It seems very black and white to me. One either "sucks" or one doesn't? One is either unskilled or one isn't? Wouldn't there be a lot in between? Doesn't it take years to go from "unskilled" via "some skill", "failry skilled" and "skilled" to "highly skilled". Or do you mean that as soon as one quits aikido, one sucks?

lbb
04-14-2011, 04:56 PM
While it's always interesting, and perhaps often important, I think it's a different topic to decide what Aikido is here. Meaning, it's not really necessary here.

Then call it a prerequisite topic -- because if you're going to toss around judgments about how to "suck" or "not suck" at an activity, you first must define what that activity is.

The list isn't saying one can't suck at Aikido, or even that one should not suck at Aikido. It's more of a recipe for sucking at Aikido. In fact, if one wanted to suck at Aikido, one can look at it as a positive "what to do" list.

What "it" are you talking about?

senshincenter
04-14-2011, 05:11 PM
David,

I don't understand why you chose the term "sucking" to make your point. You seem to indicate that by "sucking", you mean "to be unskilled". I'm not a native english speaker, but for me those terms have very different connotations.
To me, "being unskilled" is a neutral term, leaving open the possibility to aquire skill by commitment, while "sucking" is a value judgement, suggesting that acquiring skill is unlikely because of incompetence.

If I take the term "sucking" as equivalent to being "unskilled", I still have difficulty with understanding your point of view. It seems very black and white to me. One either "sucks" or one doesn't? One is either unskilled or one isn't? Wouldn't there be a lot in between? Doesn't it take years to go from "unskilled" via "some skill", "failry skilled" and "skilled" to "highly skilled". Or do you mean that as soon as one quits aikido, one sucks?

"Sucking" was just for flare. Yes, unskilled is the meaning: "How to Make Sure Your Kids are Unskilled at Aikido."

Please fellow posters don't tell me now you can go, "Oh, in that case, never mind." ;)

senshincenter
04-14-2011, 05:12 PM
Then call it a prerequisite topic -- because if you're going to toss around judgments about how to "suck" or "not suck" at an activity, you first must define what that activity is.

What "it" are you talking about?

Really? I got to define "chocolate cake" before I write a recipe for it? I would disagree.

Basia Halliop
04-15-2011, 09:31 AM
I saw it more as if A is necessary for B, then non-A leads to non-B.

OK, that's better. Now that makes logical sense.

Basia Halliop
04-15-2011, 09:41 AM
To continue to train is to practice commitment. To not train or to quit training is to not have commitment.

I'm glad you clarified that, because that's not actually what I think of when I think of commitment. IMO, if you just happen to drift along for many years training because you happen to feel like it or because you need to for some reason, but are _willing_ to drop it any time if something more interesting comes along, I wouldn't tend to use the word 'commitment'. But you'll get better anyway. So for that reason I would tend to say that your level of commitment (your attitude) maybe doesn't matter quite as much as your actual actions. Same as someone who stays in a job for many years because the job market is bad and they haven't found a better paying one and don't feel like they have the option to leave could get very good at their job without being particularly committed to it.

Also, the amount of time you practice is only one part of getting skilled at something. There are many other essential factors (your teachers for one thing).

David Orange
04-16-2011, 12:08 AM
As a writer and a student of human nature, I've always found deeper meaning in words than most readers might notice.

As head teacher of an English school in Japan, I got a lot of employment applications with resumes and letters of reference and I found some very strange things among those.

One particularly unpleasant woman I interviewed gave me a letter from her previous employer that began "I hate it that we're losing Martha..." but I felt that the writer's real feelings about the applicant were contained in the first three words: "I hate it." The letter told me that the previous employer was unbelievably happy to see this woman go and overjoyed to write a letter of reference if it would get her out of his workplace. And not only did he "hate" the person, but he found her so repulsive that he referred to her as "it": he wrote, "I hate it...that we're losing Martha..." but he was telling the world that "I hate IT--this THING called Martha."

So I find the title of this thread strangely telling: "How to Make Sure Your Kids Suck at Aikido."

Why would anyone use the words "Kids" and "Suck" in the same sentence?

But worse, "MAKE...kids suck"????

Put those three words in the Google search box and see what you get. It's interesting.

But looking at it further, we find that this thread is telling us "HOW to Make Kids Suck," which just .....it makes me feel that the writer may not like kids at all. And when we read what David would like to make kids conform to in his classes, it sounds like he really doesn't like them. Their humanity is a lower priority than making them conform to an image he has of aikido which, to me, seems to be an inaccurate image, anyway.

David's many, many technical videos display an aikido that I find less than excellent. This thread, the number of videos David creates and releases, the kind of technique he shows and the bent-forward postures all betray a real aggression that I'm sure he doesn't recognize in himself at all. It always seems to me that the more videos a person releases, the more aggression he actually harbors.

Now, David has a nice-looking dojo and he's clearly put a lot of effort into it. He also clearly spends a lot of time at aikido and he doesn't seem to hurt his ukes (possibly only because they all seem fully compliant). The aikido I learned lets me deal with a non-compliant uke and still not hurt them.

But while I pointed out to someone else that his unfinished dojo reflects an unfinished aikido, in this case, I think that an immaculate outward appearance hides an unfinished inward condition. And that condition is revealed in an outer flaw that David insists is, in fact, an improvement of aikido--his bent-forward posture.

David mentioned earlier that bending forward is instinctual and impossible to avoid, but serious budo training must penetrate those levels of mind and body to allow the budoka to replace them with more purposeful and strategic responses, instead of unconscious and uncontrollable reactions. I've been in many situations where my first impulse was to lose center and take a defensive posture, but because of serious training and constant attention to the primacy and superiority of upright posture, I've been able to ignore that impulse and maintain relaxed and centered uprightness, which has proven invaluable in every case.

Interpersonal violence is almost always a series of escalating transactions combining words and body language: an aggressor says something rude while standing in a threatening manner. What he expects is for the intended victim to respond with similar words and either a complementary aggressive physical posture or a defensive posture. The aggressor will then escalate his words and his posture in a way tailored to the victim's first response and he will expect the intended victim to act similarly or even more defensively. Two or three cycles like this and the fight is inevitable.

However, if, when the aggressor makes the first comment and takes an aggressive posture, we remain upright and centered, this has an unconscious affect on the aggressor, as if he has dropped a rock into a bottomless pit. He waits to hear the echo of his action, but nothing comes back to him and this bothers him. And as he tries to escalate further, if we simply stand relaxed and upright, he feels greater discomfort and becomes uncertain of how to make the transaction move in the direction he wants. Crouching and bending forward in readiness are just an invitation to escalate the transaction toward violence.

By remaining relaxed and upright, we remain free to move instantly in any direction: and spoiling an attack requires only a few inches of movement.

But here's an experiment: stand tall and relaxed, then try to spin around like a skater. Now, stand with your feet apart and bend your body forward from the waist, then try spinning around like a skater. Which way lets you turn faster?

Another example: place wet towels on one side of a washing machine and put it on spin. If the machine doesn't shut itself off, it will tear itself up.

Another example: take an electric motor with a drive shaft. Bend the drive shaft, then turn on the motor. It will rip itself off its mounts.

In fact, one can't even fully relax while standing bent forward (or leaning in any direction). The muscles have to compensate for the uneven pull of gravity. Kept up over years, this will actually damage the body.

Still, if you have an aggressive attitude in aikido, you're pretty certain to lean into (bend toward) the attacker and your technique will be badly compromised.

So a strict attitude and making children act like soldiers in aikido classes doesn't help if the kids are learning aggressive posture and spirit.

I remember the first time I saw a children's karate class in Japan. I couldn't believe how unruly the kids were, running around the dojo, shouting and laughing, playing chase. The teacher was very mild about it and let them do what they wanted (be kids) until class started. It was far more casual than the kids classes I taught. I was just shocked. A couple of boys kept racing up and down the mats, rushing toward the kamiza before running back the same way. I tried to warn them not to run toward the kamiza, where Mochizuki Sensei had a piece of driftwood that looked like a dragon's head, with gold Christmas tree balls for eyes. They just looked at me like I was crazy and kept playing. But then, one of them actually ran into the kamiza and knocked the "dragon head" (symbolizing Morihei Ueshiba) out of the kamiza and onto the floor, where the Christmas tree balls rolled across the mat. The boys quieted suddenly and the teacher spoke rather mildly to them as he collected the components and put them back in place in the kamiza. And then he started class.

The kids loved the teacher and they loved karate. And they were good at it. And they tended to stay with that teacher for many years. I never heard him exonerate any of them about attendance.

In short, I'm a lot less worried about children's behavior and attendance now. I'm more concerned about the quality of what I teach them.

In Budo.

David

lbb
04-16-2011, 05:36 PM
Really? I got to define "chocolate cake" before I write a recipe for it? I would disagree.

Oh, now we're going to go into the semantics of "got to"? Okay, to make it explicit: no, you're not being forced to define your goal before you describe how you plan to get there. There is no Definition Police holding a gun to your head and requiring you to do so. It's just that if you fail to do so, it makes any claims of success (or non-suckiness, as you'd probably prefer) meaningless. You haven't said what you're trying to achieve; therefore, how can you say if you've achieved it?

NagaBaba
04-16-2011, 06:00 PM
David's many, many technical videos display an aikido that I find less than excellent. This thread, the number of videos David creates and releases, the kind of technique he shows and the bent-forward postures all betray a real aggression that I'm sure he doesn't recognize in himself at all. It always seems to me that the more videos a person releases, the more aggression he actually harbors.

I disagree. I think he has very good level and you are exaggerating. I may not like some stuff that he is doing, but generally speaking he is doing very well.
I also don't perceive any aggression from him at any moment on contrary He is rather shy and gently while applying techniques on his ukes.

As for the posture, better look how Saito sensei broke his posture by pushing his hips back, particularly with weapons. This is actually important example how NOT to practice with weapons! And a lot of his students imitate him blindly without asking themselves questions....

Basia Halliop
04-17-2011, 01:53 PM
What I'm understanding from David Valadez that does make sense to me is, that if having your child progress in something is very important to you, it requires YOU to be committed to making it happen and committed to working through setbacks or even changes in attitude in the child and seeing them as solvable problems. You do not need to be aggressive or unkind or 'militaristic', no, but completely persistent, yes.

Now whether one thinks this to actually be a laudable goal for aikido specifically is a different question -- I don't personally think it is. And I also don't think it particularly implies commitment on the part of the child -- it implies commitment on the part of the parent.