View Full Version : Teaching Kids: A Problem?

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Ari Bolden
05-27-2004, 05:40 PM
Greetings all,

I am looking for some experience and opinions in the matter of teaching kids (7-14).

I currently teach Aiki Jujitsu and grappling. My age range is 16-50 right now. I specifically avoided teaching kids for the following reasons:

1) I didn't want to baby sit kids, especially after school, when they are all hopped up on sugar and food coloring.

2) I enjoy having a certain maturity level in the classes I teach. But I do like kids (at least I think I do ;-)

3) My style is a little hard, and I of course don't want kids breaking each other up or trying joint locks on the jungle jim.

On the other hand, I have talked with many parents who say their kids want a more hands on approach of the martial arts. Many parents (and children alike), have said they like the "rolling around of Aikido and Jujitsu' more than the katas of karate.

Over the last year, I've turned away many children because they weren't old enough. I know what the answer is from a business stand point (kids are where the $ is at) but money has never been the issue.

Your experience in this matter would be great.


Ari Bolden :ai: :ki:

05-27-2004, 08:25 PM
In our dojo, we do have a kids program. The kids are only taught certain basics, but no serious waza (i.e. nikyo). It seems to work well. the kids have plenty to learn but are kept from anything that could either injure themselves or each other.

Our groups are- elementary (1-6) Middle (middle school 7-9th grade here in japan) general (adult), and special ( 2kyu and up can sign up for more intense classes [no, we don't ride a little bus])

05-27-2004, 09:05 PM

My sensei has been teach aikido to kids for years. Our kids classes are run like adult basics class but taking into consideration for their ages. The advanced kids, more like teens, have been practicing aikido for 4-6 years.

Check outTeaching Kids Aikido (http://www.aikidoonline.com/Archives/2002/sep/clmn_0902_kids1.html)

Hope that helps.

Conrad Gus
05-27-2004, 11:53 PM
Hi Ari,

I taught the 5-14 age range for a few years back in Calgary before I moved to Victoria 3 years ago. In my experience, that is too wide of an age range. 7-15 sounds more reasonable. The Aikikai clubs in town go age 8 - 14 or so.

In Calgary it was a stable class where many of the kids had been in Aikido for 4 or more years. I think it is totally different when you have some kids with that level of experience. Those kids had the level of technique and ukemi of an adult 5 or 4 kyu. It's harder with all beginners!

Our class was modelled after the kids classes in Japan where our Sensei taught before he moved to Canada. The focus was on Aikido attitude and etiquette, fun, body movements, techniques,flexibility, strength, and fitness (not necessarily in that order, but close to it I think).

I've recently started teaching kids again, but this time just the younger ones (ages 4 - 7). I started the class because my daughter is 4 and I think she is ready to give it a go. There is a HUGE demand for Aikido at this age range here in Victoria, so don't discount the possibility. We've only had 3 classes so far, but I think it will be successful. Enrollment is capped at 10!!!!!

I think the fundamental difference in teaching kids is that to keep their interest you have to keep it really fun and find different ways of getting the concepts across. Especially at the younger age range, doing technique after technique will just lose them.

Not that I'm an expert or anything, but if you want to talk - you're welcome to give me a call since it's not long distance! I wish you great success in your endeavor, as I think Aikido is one of the best things kids can do. It really affects them in a profound way (just as it does adults). It takes a great deal of generosity and patience to be the instructor, but I know it is worth it for them.


05-28-2004, 12:01 AM
Duct tape - lot's of duct tape.

Conrad Gus
05-28-2004, 12:04 AM
Duct tape - lot's of duct tape.

HA! :p

Ari Bolden
05-28-2004, 03:37 PM
Thanks for everyone's reply.

Anne: that was a great article..cheers!

Conrad: are you at the main dojo on Sumas? I used to train at the university with Hilary Sensei but now, when I have time, I train with Daniel Kempling sensei. I'd love to chat!

Peter: Grin...

warm regards,

05-28-2004, 06:05 PM
My son, 9 yrs old, started taking Aikido a little over a year ago. My sensei normally doesn't take children unless the parent is in the class to keep them stable. Kids are very unstable and may spontaneously combust at any time. As a parent, I CRINGE every single time someone does a shihonage on him. The more experienced people are great, it's when he's working with beginners like him. However, that brings up a point. He's gotten to work with adults. He's handling it very well and I can definitely notice a change in his confidence. It's been a bit of an experiment and so far is working out well, but I must say, if I wasn't there to remind him to pay attention and act how he should at times, he'd probably be gone by now.

I think the best way to go is with a kids class 8 to probably around 13. Above that, I'd say stick 'em in a regular class.

05-29-2004, 10:20 PM
Thanks for everyone's reply.

Anne: that was a great article..cheers!



I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Anne Marie

Lyle Laizure
05-30-2004, 12:01 AM
I have taught children for several years, ages 5-12. I teach them the same thing as I teach in an adults class. The key with a childrens class is it is very hands on for the instructor. You have to monitor everything while giving them space to learn. Then once students begin to understand something give them more and more freedom to teach each other. A good childrens' class instructor will be nothing more than a facilitator to keep things moving and limit horseplay.

You cannot however give allowances because they are children. Meaning you cannot set the standard lower because they are not adults. The worst thing I have ever heard in a childrens' class is "That's close enough."

You have to set their standards just as high as the adults. You have to keep them involved in their training. Do this and you won't have any problems.

Jorge Garcia
05-30-2004, 08:27 AM
I have about 30 kids in my program now. We run two classes twice a week, ages 6-8 and 9-12. The 9 to 12 group is excellent because they respond better than the adults and show more commitment. The more difficult class is the 6 to 8. These will respond based on their maturity and upbringing. I agree that all must be taught like it is a regular class. It must be remembered that what you teach will have to be at their conceptual level so although we teach the same things, we break it down more and spend more time on things. I recommend a high impact soft mat so they can learn to roll without getting injured. They graduate easily to the regular mat. I also recommend that if you go with a younger age, that they be allowed to watch a class and maybe try it out for a few minutes so they can spend a little time with you. Some small children can be hard to handle and the parents sometimes are looking for a place to drop them off so they can go shopping where the price is the same or less than a babysitter. In our previous program in Corpus Christi, I actually had calls asking if we took 3 year olds! In other words, you may want to check the kids suitability for martial arts because at the younger age, it is the parent deciding they will be there, not the child and that could affect things greatly. I have had a few at the younger age not even know what it is we were doing. I recommend a kids program that starts at age 8 and up.
Best wishes,

05-30-2004, 08:52 AM
I taught kids for ten years. Aikido technique is hard for children but they are good at rolling and falling. It worked best when I kept it very simple.

If I were to teach children again (which I will not :D ) I would encourage more parental involvment and I would not teach that one child that shows up in every class that really does not want to be there and makes in hard for everyone else.
(Whoops, I am in Ron's acount but it really is me)

Jorge Garcia
05-30-2004, 10:03 AM
"I would not teach that one child that shows up in every class that really does not want to be there and makes it hard for everyone else."

I've had that child in almost every program and if there's a downside, that's it.