View Full Version : My first attempt at teaching

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!

04-12-2005, 10:37 PM
I have been practicing Aikido for over 3 years now, a fact that is not reflected in my relatively low rank (2nd kyu, I still haven't updated my sig).

I have recieved permission from my sensei to teach a preliminary, six-week course in Aikido over the summer to several groups of 12-16 year old children.

This is obviously going to be a VERY introductory class with very little if any actual technique. Things like Kote Gaeshi and Shihonage would just be too dangerous.

So my question is what should I do? What should I teach? I can get jo for all of them to use, but I'm still trying to fill up 30 hours worth of training in total.

Suggestions are more than welcome...

04-12-2005, 11:06 PM
First and foremost, you're got to keep the kids from getting hurt, while still keeping them amused.

I suggest you start by getting them to roll safely around the mats, and if you have extra-thick crash mats (around one foot / 30 cms or more deep) then use those. The kids will have a great time and learn something that could save them from getting injured in a real fight or a fall sometime.

You could show some kids how to effect a release from being grabbed different ways, but rather than getting dislocated thumbs or broken fingers, you could teach the kids how to pinch and twist somewhere painful, to loosen up an attacker. The sensitive, fatty skin on the inside of Uke's thigh is a great target; and you'd be amazed how high a would-be-attacker can be made to jump in surprise and pain! ;)

May I suggest you read this article I wrote on the subject?


Make it fun, and the kids and their parents will love you. And you'll probably have a few enrol at the dojo once they get a little older.

Pauliina Lievonen
04-13-2005, 03:51 AM
First and foremost, you're got to keep the kids from getting hurt, while still keeping them amused.

FWIW - Thinking back to what I was like when I was 12... if I took part in a six week course of aikido, and didn't get to learn aikido, but instead was being kept amused... I'd have been disappointed and rather scornful of the teachers. :p

Why would it be too dangerous to teach them aikido techniques?


Karen Wolek
04-13-2005, 05:01 AM
FWIW - Thinking back to what I was like when I was 12... if I took part in a six week course of aikido, and didn't get to learn aikido, but instead was being kept amused... I'd have been disappointed and rather scornful of the teachers. :p

Why would it be too dangerous to teach them aikido techniques?


I'm with Pauliina. And I'm curious to hear the answer to her question....especially since at my dojo, kids that age would be in the regular class (and are) and learning everything the adults learn.

04-13-2005, 05:47 AM
There's another thread (somewhere!) on this forum and also on the aikiweb blog with some ideas for teaching kids.

I find that teaching actual techniques is quite "boring" for kids under 12's. YMMV. So I usually focus on basics - basic movement (shiko, tai sabaki, ashi sabaki, ukemi) etc., wrist releases, and lots of games and group activity emphasizing movement rather than actual techniques.

From 12-15, they start to develop fine motor skills, so actual techniques would be better for this age group. I get my kids to demonstrate 2 out of 3 techs I showed them in the class before we play a game. This gives you good feedback whether they were paying attention or not, and where they are lacking. (The "big" kids, i.e. adults love it too!).

Most of all, make it fun. It's a great opportunity to test your creativity and imagination, as well as your knowledge of the basics in a fun, yet meaningful way.

All the best,


Mike James
04-13-2005, 01:02 PM
I have started teaching a Kid's Open Mat class on Saturdays. It is open to all belt levels (some parents even come and train with their kids!) so we run the whole technique spectrum, depending on what belt levels the kids are. I live (and teach) in Santa Rosa, so feel free to drop me a line if you like.

Melissa Fischer
04-13-2005, 04:57 PM
IMHO,definately don't dumb down Aikido for the 12-15 year old age group. Do a warm up first, games last and techniques in between. Teach Ukemi, let them throw you, get them really tired, teach them to sit seiza and "learn by watching" sometimes. Keep high standards in execution and respectfulness towards themselves and others, they will rise to them. Watch yourself that you are calm and having a good time. This age group loves to make up games, I've found.

We have a large children's program with Bruce Bookman Sensei at our dojo. We teach all throws and pins (they are told to tap out before it hurts, unlike the grown ups who are encouraged to build character through nikkyo!) and the kids have lots of belt colors so they can see their advancement. When I did a public school class last year for younger kids, they all went up to yellow belt in 7 weeks. We had 2 teachers for the 22 kids, so we were well staffed. This, just to give you an idea what's possible. Also, we did a little mini-demo at the end so parents could see what their kids had learned. I think we started with one as well to drum up enthusiasm.

Here's a site with games and advice; www.aikidokids.com
Here's Bruce Bookman's teaching Aikido to kids link; www.tenzanaikido.com
Good luck!


Rod Yabut
04-13-2005, 05:13 PM
You've got very good suggestions so far from what I see above. The 12-15 age group isn't as difficult as 6-11 who's attention spans are very short. If they are completely new to aikido, I'd go with the formula of 10% warmups, 10% aiki-games?, 60% ukemi, and 20% technique on the first 2-3 weeks. Then you'ld have to start judging each one by ability and break them off in groups (during the technique portion only). Teaching technique, you might want to break down a technique in small portions...this is of course just my opinion. Also, ask your sensei if he has a curriculum planned already. Why reinvent the wheel? Oh - and if you can get the ones that seem interested - have them watch an adult class to see the real deal.

04-13-2005, 11:38 PM
It depends on what the courses are supposed to be focused on. Do you want to focus on the techniques of Aikido? Or do you wish to focus on the self-defense? If you want to focus on self-defense, I'd work on general ideas and basic releases. A little bit of experience facing a weapon could be beneficial, but try to work it on a smaller, more realistic scale. Something like reacting to a stick/pipe/knife etc. But keep it simple. Teenagers are easily bored and need to be constantly aware of what they're doing when working with martial arts. Be confident in your skills, no matter what level they're at. And try to make it a little fun. I've seen a lot of classes in which the students zone out because the instructor is ranting on the same thing for 15-20 min. Overall, be creative but simple.

04-14-2005, 06:57 AM
A lot of good advice above. I teach a kids class, my students range from 7 - 15 years old. They pretty much all started at the same time, with the exception of 3 or 4. I started them on ukemi and techniques from aihanmi kataedori and gyaku hanmi katatedori, doing ikkyo, iriminage, tenchinage, shihonage and kaitenage. They've been at it a year now, once a week excluding bank holidays, now introducing new attacks and techniques (tsuki, Yokomen, ryote doir, ushiro etc.). The young ones lose their attention span fairly quick, so I don't stick with any one technique for more than 5 minutes before changing to something else, even if it's the same ;). The older ones are all for doing full over the top ukemi from kokyunage's and kotegaeshi now. I don't teach them nikkyo, sankyo or koteaeshi, although they may get 5 minutes practicing carefully every 4 months or so :), without putting any pressure on the wrists.

Depending on how many kids are in the class, extra hands are very valuable, especially as levels of ability will vary, it will allow you to split the class.

Games are good, but not every lesson, fun is really good, so interaction with the kids is very important, don't run it like a drill sergeant, but do be firm and positive. Make sure they know that you are in charge, but let them get away with a bit every now and then, reign them in when needed ;).



04-15-2005, 12:17 AM
I really like the suggestions I have recieved so far. I like the idea of mostly ukemi, and a few "tricks" that are a bit more practical, as well as some rigerous technique.

So now I need to know what kinds of games there are to scatter through the class. I haven't actually played any Aikido "games," so I'd have no idea what to do.

More replies would be welcome. Thank you all so much for all of the wonderful advice!

04-15-2005, 07:07 AM
go to www.aikidokids.com (as suggested above) they have a section devoted to aikido related games for kids, there's a fair few in there.



04-15-2005, 09:22 AM
There's a bunch of games for kids and children in the AikiWeb AikiWiki here:


If any of you have any to add, please feel encouraged to contribute!

-- Jun

Jeremy Young
04-28-2005, 03:09 PM
Our dojo also has a after-school kids program as well as kids classes, so we see a lottttt of children. Basic footwork and body evasive movements are good but also i agree that technique should be taught. My sensei and his wife also come up with games for the children based on aikido, like they do an aikido-baseball that they have to "run" with shikko waza (the "knee-walk"). I dont remember exactly all the rules...but the idea is that they incorporate different aikido concepts into the different games. Also, if you can teach them to roll...first from shikko then maybe standing, knees bent and low to the ground and finally from standing, then they could start to learn many more techniques and just roll out of them instead of taking the fall if you are worrying about them taking ukemi. Ajjjj, and maybe if you could find at least one good uke you could give them little "demostrations" of throws or other more advanced techniques on occasion just to keep them "ooooing and aaaaaing". And maybe teach them to count in japanese so that they can take turn counting during the practice and footwork.
have fun with the kids!!
Jeremy Young
Tatsumaki Dojo
Springdale, AR

Lyle Bogin
04-29-2005, 10:04 AM
As a side note, remember that waivers signed by parents only cover the ADULTS right to sue for ORDINARY negligence. So, safety first, cuz if a kid gets hurt and angry on your watch, no matter who signed what they have the right to sue as a minor (no contract or waiver is enforcible until majority age).

Make sure you have taught them a signal for "freezing" (perhaps two rapid handclaps with the command "FREEZE"...make a game out of it to teach it), so that you can make them stop what they are doing in the instant of an injury and control the situation. The more kids you have, the more important this becomes.