PDA

View Full Version : What age is a good age to start children


Please visit our sponsor:
 

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


SBK_Doug
01-30-2006, 01:16 PM
I am interested in everyone's opinion on this question.
What age is an appropriate age for children to start Aikido?
I have heard everything from "when he can stand" to "when she can hold a bokken."

vjw
01-30-2006, 02:04 PM
My youngest student started at 5 years of age. I think the instructor's attitude and approach to teaching children is the biggest factor when enrolling your children into a martial arts school. Other factors to consider are the age of the other children in the class and the number of children per instructor. My youngest student is 3 years younger than the next. In the early days, when his interest droped he left the mat and joined his mother. He has learned to be respectful to his instructor and fellow students, loves to break fall and has picked up foot movements and balance breaking very well. Last week, before class started, he and his 8 year old sister took it on themselves to practice kokyu dosa. Now if I could just get the adults to practice it the way they did.

Edwin Neal
01-30-2006, 02:28 PM
IMHO martial arts are for "adults"... i would say 14 to 16 is a good range when people have the maturity to study... i know a lot of people love kids classes, and a lot of dojo's do what i call karate day care... non contact/kata base karate is okay i think for younger children, but the interactive potentially injurious nature of aikido practice should be for later... and i feel 18 would probably be the minimum age for a student to hold the rank of shodan... little kids running around with black belts only makes a school look ridiculous...

bratzo_barrena
01-30-2006, 02:52 PM
I think children can begin studying Aikido at a very young age, that doesn't mean they're going to understand the more sophysticated principles beyond the techniques, for that you need to mature and be older at least around 15 (obviously maturity depends on each person, and should be judged case bay case).
But by starting at a young age, kids have the benefit of physical workout, coordination in mnovement, discipline, etc., which are good for them anyway.

Bratzo Barrena

Lyle Bogin
01-30-2006, 03:35 PM
Having taught kids of all ages, I think 12 is the perfect age. Of course, it's probably more like a range btw 10-14 depending on the child, but my 6th graders have this magical combination of wonder, curiousity, and sufficient physical maturity.

aikigirl10
01-30-2006, 03:36 PM
I think starting as a teen is starting waaayy to old. I think the sooner you start out the better because thats just more time you have under your belt. Kids are not afraid to do ukemi so they learn that better. Plus, if you've done something your whole life then its hard to forget it. Like riding a bike.

I say the younger the better.

Edwin Neal
01-30-2006, 04:00 PM
it really does depend upon the student, but dare i say most? people are not really physically or mentally mature enough (IMHO) until at least their teen years... and it is easy to cause injuries if people are not careful so i feel it is better safe than sorry... does anyone know what the ages are for something like judo or jujutsu, or full contact sport MA in different organizations to help put some perspective on it?

Mark Freeman
01-30-2006, 04:48 PM
it really does depend upon the student, but dare i say most? people are not really physically or mentally mature enough (IMHO) until at least their teen years... and it is easy to cause injuries if people are not careful so i feel it is better safe than sorry... does anyone know what the ages are for something like judo or jujutsu, or full contact sport MA in different organizations to help put some perspective on it?

To answer the second part of your post first, my son started Judo with a BJA ( British Judo Association ) Club when he was 6, however he was unable to compete until he was 8. I used to go with him to the competitions, and I was quite shocked by the number of kids having to be attended to by the medics, injuries seemed to be quite common. So I was quite pleased when he decided to quit judo and join my kids aikido class. No pressure from me honest!
Anyway, after about 6 years of teaching kids, I haven't had 1 injury on the mat, the ocassional tears but nothing that meant they couldn't make school the next day. Maybe this is due to the fact that we are on the 'softer' end of the aikido spectrum, and injury is minimal in the adult class as well.
I guess for those who practice a 'harder' aikido ( I'm trying not to use the term 'style' as i know it rubs you up the wrong way Edwin ;) ) then a concern for the ability of youngsters to cope is understandable.
I think kids are a delight to teach, they have some advantages over the adults especially when it comes to just doing what they are asked to do!
A couple of my students who started as kids and now practice with the adults are a great teaching aid for me. If one of my full grown male students needs to work on 'not using muscle' when aiki is more effective ( all the time! ) I pair them up with one of the kids. They soon respect what they can do, and it helps their progress.

I agree with you about 18 being a reasonable age for Shodan, in our Federation 17 is deemed the minimum. But as the aikido world is a diverse and large one, there are bound to be many different views.

Regards

Mark

MaryKaye
01-30-2006, 05:05 PM
We admit students beginning at 6; we experimented with 4.5 and found that we were running daycare rather than teaching aikido, and it exhausted the teachers. There is some local experience that says girls may be able to start at 5, but it can cause bad feelings if you make a difference between the sexes (we have several younger siblings who would dearly like to train with their older ones, and if we allow this for girls but not boys, they will be offended). Not all 6-year-olds work out, though. 8 seems to be the point at which the majority of kids are ready, but exceptional younger kids can do very well.

Our top kid students are a pair of brothers who are 8 and 12, and have been practicing for many years now. They are very good, and have convinced me that pre-teens can excel at aikido: the 12-year-old recently taught me one of the techniques on the adult second kyu test, which I had been unable to grasp. (He said, "That's because I've been training for 6 years and you've only been training for 3.")

The eight-year-old is notorious for kneeling pins which adults cannot escape--it's fun to watch this very tiny child pin a huge uke.

We teach a different curriculum to kids than to adults, removing techniques felt to be physically risky for them: they do not do sankyo or nikyo, for example, until nearly teens. But it's still clearly aikido.

To keep them from hurting each other we rely on lots of adult supervision plus a strong group tradition of helping your partner rather than hurting him. It works most of the time--any physical activity with a bunch of 6-8 year olds has some risks, but we have not had a serious injury (more than bruises) in the 2 years I've been assistant instructor.

I really enjoy working with kids and would miss it if we stopped. Not many of them continue on as teens--most are lured away by team sports in high school--but I think they get something of value from it none the less. And we do have one teen from our kids' program training with the adults, and another likely to begin soon. (We would probably treat the 12-year-old as an adult, except that he is physically very small still and there are concerns about his safety.)

I also remember visiting Reynosa sensei's dojo in California and watching a tiny boy, maybe 8, backing sensei across the mat during a bokken drill with the kind of focus, timing, and sense of connection I only wish I could develop in my own training. Don't sell kids short.

Mary Kaye

vjw
01-30-2006, 06:46 PM
I agree 18 is a good minimum age for shodan, but then the student would have to start training by the age of 12 to get the required hours in. I also agree that the classes should not be day care ( yes, very difficult with 5/6 year olds), which is why I believe teacher/student ratios should be such that all children get close attention. Generally, 8 seems the earliest starting age for Aikido. Every so often I allow the 10+ to attend an adult class. The adults as well as the kids get a great deal out of the class. (Comment from one of my adult students during Sunday's Class: " They use their bodies so much better than we do). Mary Kaye's post reflects my findings and feelings about teaching children. Treat them with respect and you will be surprised at what they can do.

Kevin Temple
01-30-2006, 11:56 PM
If you're gonna start em young (In the 8-10 range) do two years of only kamae, basic motions, breakfalls, weapons, knee-walking and striking drills all the no-contact aspects of aikido that make for a solid base and should be getting the most attention early on. Drill it into their heads until they can do it in their sleep. Then by the time they have matured enough to grasp the more intricate aspects of aikido, their basics will be so rock solid that they will start learning the rest of aikido with a vengeance. By the time they hit 12, they will be ridiculously ready for the rest of aikido.

Now this is the ideal scenario, hopefully you can find some kids with enough forward thinking and attention to realize the benefits instead of getting bored and running off to find a new hobby. Sadly adults probably wouldn't be able to handle the super-focused first couple years either. However I think that if you are gonna start them early, start them with a focused program that will foster good habits from the start.

If I ever get to teaching, I don't think my dojo will have many kids. I'll have to get ahold of some of my own.

Jorge Garcia
01-31-2006, 12:26 AM
We start our kids at age 6 with a program that takes four years (if you never miss a class). All techniques have been modified to make them simpler for the kids. We do everything the adults do including weapons (after the third test). I teach 40 kids at two locations twice a week.

Incidentally, my own son started at age 11. He was awarded his Shodan at age 17. He is a Nidan now at the age of 22. He was never in a kids class and has always trained with the adults. He took all his kyu and dan exams with Japanese Shihans (AkiraTohei and Hiroshi Kato).

Lyle Bogin
01-31-2006, 08:04 AM
Aikido for kindergardeners? I admire your strength!

With kids I think it's great to do basics, but it has to be fun for them and basics are usually boring. They also naturally push and pull on one another all of the time, and love to wrestle and chase eachother and throw stuff at eachother. I'm no longer afraid to let them touch eachother, but I monitor who works with whom regarding temperment and ability.

I begin by establishing safety through rules, but then ease off and allow them to slide back towards entropy. The risk is worth the result. They are children and they should practice as children.

Edit: I just noticed that the thread starter is from an SBK dojo...greetings from NY!

nathansnow
02-04-2006, 02:03 PM
I would recommend that you have your kids start out in another form of MA, such as karate or better yet judo. Judo is similar to aikido (taking balance, throwing, pinning) and they will also learn ukemi. Young children (under the age of 15 or 16) are not mentally ready to understand the principles and physics behind aikido and why it works. They are also not able to grasp the concept of "ki" in aikido. I think that they would be better off learning something more tangible. Studying judo will make them physically stronger and excellent on the ground (where most confrontations end up) and studying karate will give them excellent discipline and great atemi in the future.

aikigirl10
02-04-2006, 05:34 PM
:yuck: Young children (under the age of 15 or 16) are not mentally ready to understand the principles and physics behind aikido and why it works. They are also not able to grasp the concept of "ki" in aikido.

Who's to say they won't? you?

I started as an 8 year old and really didnt have any trouble understanding how aikido worked. I understood how you took someones momentum and used it against them, I had a fair understanding of "ki" concepts, and i understood that aikido meant peace and not violence, so there you go Mr.Snow, there's your counter-example.

And this isnt necessarily because I'm ahead of other 8 year olds , its because I had (have) a teacher that was good at teaching me in the correct way. Even if a child cant understand the philosophy , it is still good for them to start early, this way they can at least get the physical stuff down.

And what makes it worse is that you dont even think a 14 year old can understand it. Talk about underestimation. Yes, kids are kids, they are naive, and obviously not as mature or developed as adults, but don't underestimate them, at least not to that extent.

In shaolin kung fu i've seen, your definition of yound kids, blow out candles with their "chi" power (mouth covered), so obviously Judo and Karate are not the only "tangible" arts.

:yuck: :disgust:

Ketsan
02-04-2006, 05:53 PM
Absolute earliest 14 although I think 16 is the ideal time.

aikigirl10
02-04-2006, 06:26 PM
Absolute earliest 14 although I think 16 is the ideal time.

reasons?

vjw
02-04-2006, 06:32 PM
I would recommend that you have your kids start out in another form of MA, such as karate or better yet judo. Judo is similar to aikido (taking balance, throwing, pinning) and they will also learn ukemi. Young children (under the age of 15 or 16) are not mentally ready to understand the principles and physics behind aikido and why it works. They are also not able to grasp the concept of "ki" in aikido. I think that they would be better off learning something more tangible. Studying judo will make them physically stronger and excellent on the ground (where most confrontations end up) and studying karate will give them excellent discipline and great atemi in the future.

Nathan, I think you are not only underestimating children but also the challenges of Judo and Karate.

aikigirl10
02-04-2006, 06:55 PM
Nathan, I think you are not only underestimating children but also the challenges of Judo and Karate.

very much so

RebeccaM
02-04-2006, 07:01 PM
You'd hesitate to explain ki to a child. Would you also hesitate to tell a child about love? About God? About evil? About right and wrong? These are abstract things that I recall getting a pretty good grasp on as a child. If anything, a kid will grasp something like ki better than an adult, being less encumbered by the skepticism and preconceived notion that come with growing up.

I was 11 when I started aikido. I understood what ki was right away. So did my seven year old brother. The basic concept is not that hard.

aikigirl10
02-04-2006, 07:55 PM
You'd hesitate to explain ki to a child. Would you also hesitate to tell a child about love? About God? About evil? About right and wrong? These are abstract things that I recall getting a pretty good grasp on as a child. If anything, a kid will grasp something like ki better than an adult, being less encumbered by the skepticism and preconceived notion that come with growing up.

I was 11 when I started aikido. I understood what ki was right away. So did my seven year old brother. The basic concept is not that hard.

Very well said. I completely agree.

When it's put that way, ki really is not that hard of a concept. Ki as i've been told, is basically the energy force that's inside of you. Aikido helps you harness this through MA training. Doesn't sound too hard...

Nathan, If you think a child could'nt grasp this, then you must be the one finding it hard , not children. Just because you dont get it doesnt mean someone younger than you wont.

Ketsan
02-04-2006, 08:13 PM
reasons?
Often before that it's more that the parent wants the child to learn Aikido and the child has no interest. Between 14 and 16 you can pretty much say that the child chooses to be there and wants to learn.

aikigirl10
02-04-2006, 08:30 PM
Often before that it's more that the parent wants the child to learn Aikido and the child has no interest.

huh?

This doesnt make any sense to me. If you could say this about kids doing aikido then you could also say this about kids playing baseball or basketball, or taking piano , or any other activity or sport that you wanna name.

Yeah some parents are like that. Not many, from my experience. If anything most kids think that it's cool to do "karate" and thats why they wanna take it. At any rate, that kid isnt gonna be a kid for long and if he really has no interest in aikido then he'll have the ability to speak up and say so.

Not only this, but some kids need some basic self-defense training, and it may be in their best interest to take aikido because their parents say so, even if they really have no interest.

I dont understand your logic. Is that really the only reason you have for saying that?

Jerry Miller
02-05-2006, 01:44 AM
When a child reaches the age of reason is the appropriate time. A child can grasp the concepts of ki before 15 or 16. I was around 12 when I started. I trained with adults as there was no kids class.

Qatana
02-05-2006, 10:29 AM
One of the most beautiful iriminages I have ever seen was done by a seven year old on her sister of about the same size.
We have suddenly aquired threee kids from 9-12 who are training with their dads. One has been in the dojo for a couple of months, the other two for about three weeks.One of them is proving to be a great uke, one can knee walk laps faster than the rest of us and has grasped the concept of "center" after having it explained to her once, and one is doing jiyuwaza with the rest of us. She only has one technique in her system but somehow she knows how to pull it out of any attack.
I never had any interest or desire to teach, let alone teach kids, but as Senior student in the Basics class, that is exactly what I am doing now, and somehow am getting all kinds of value from it.

aikidodragon
02-05-2006, 10:08 PM
Our dojo offers class for 6 and up.

On the note of judo, my jujitsu school allows kids of 5 and older. Judo is as much physics as Aikido if not more. We do alot of hip and shoulder throws. You have to know how to move, pull, push, bend, and step to be able to load someone on your back. One wrong move and your on the mat counting the lights. Aikido you can feel and see the movements depending on the throw, judo its all feel and timing. Our hands are always on your uniform. Kids can learn movement and timing, and if you tell them to do something they will give it their all because they have no fear.
Our school has an age, weight, hight requierment. If you reach a particular hight and wieght you may be allowed to join the adault class. Also if you are 13, or obtain what ever rank Shihan has set for acceptance in to the adault class.

batemanb
02-06-2006, 01:03 AM
I've been running a kids class for a little over two years now. We'd been turning kids away for years, we didn't have anyone interested in teaching kids, nor trained up to deal with them. When a young seven year old came and asked me if he could learn, I decided that it was probably time to start thinking about it. I started from scratch with him practicing in a corner for 30 mins during the senior class, after 2 weeks, his 2 older sisters and their friend joined, within 2 more weeks a further 4 joined, I had to give them their own mat, I have 20 students now.

I set 7 as the starting age purely because that was the age of my first student, he is actually very adept and picked things up quite quickly (as do his sisters), however, a couple of later students around the same age, are not so quick. As my class is mixed age, I just can't devote enough time to everyone for the full time, attention spans wane for some more than others. Consequently, I've raised my starting age to 9 and have recently had to turn at least half a dozen prospective students away.

If I had enough time to run more classes, and could split them into age ranges, I would, and I see no reason why I shouldn't start taking them at 7 again, as I could focus the classes more to individual levels than trying to develop 7 year olds alongside 14 year olds.

I don't think kids should be pidgeon holed, as with all subjects and all ages, some learn better/ quicker than others, but like the adult classes, the key is to keep coming to practice. My kids are more reliable than many of the adults in that factor............. As for being forced to do it it by parents, I only know of two that were (as their dad is my assistant), both stopped after 14 months or so, but one of them has recently started training again of his own accord. I've had 5 other drop outs over that time, 3 of those were because we moved locations and they didn't have transport.

I recently had my first junior move into the adult class, she's still 15 but can drop the big guys as well as anyone. For my thinking, the earlier you can get them training, the better. I don't expect them to be at the same level as adults in techniques, nor to understand the principles (hell, I don't even understand it), I just hope they come and have fun practicing, then it's been worth it. If they stick with it long enough and all join the adult class, then it will be even better, but at the moment, just seeing them all lined up on the mat, laughing and joking whilst taking ukemi, queing up for me to throw them over, that's what a kids class should be, fun.

As a point of note, their a lot of considerations needed in running kids classes. It's not the easiest thing to do, in the UK you have to take a BAB training course, which will do more to put most people off. We don't do any pinning techniques except ikkyo, but there's nothing wrong with kokyunage's, kaiten nage, iriminage, tenchinage, shihonage, taisabaki, ukemi etc. Give the kids a chance, they pick up a lot more than some of you give them credit for.

rgds

Bryan

Mark Freeman
02-06-2006, 05:24 AM
Give the kids a chance, they pick up a lot more than some of you give them credit for.
Hear, hear! perhaps the Doubting Thomas's, have not had the experience of teaching kids themselves. I found that as long as I adapted my teaching to their needs, then all was well, just as we adapt to adults different needs. Some kids are more 'robust' than some adults, why should they be excluded from a beneficial practice? it makes no sense ( not to me, anyway ).

Regards

Mark

tenshin_uke
03-04-2006, 12:05 AM
my daughter had just turned five a few years ago while i was still in tae kwon do. there were a lot of younger kids there so i thought about signing her up. i talked to my pediatrician at the time and he advised me against it. since kids that small have ligaments and tendons that still are not completely formed, he advised me against enrolling her in any 'striking' art.
i waited and now her (7) and her brother (6) have both been taking aikido classes with me for about a year now. they love doing the ukemi, not to mention 'shikko freeze tag'. they do have a little bit of an attention issue, but good instructors know how to keep them interested.

merlynn
03-10-2006, 11:00 AM
2 of my children train with on a wednesday my little girl is 5 my son is 8, both are getting on really well, i think it should be dependant on the childs ability to concentrate and not there age as to when they start training,also as to the ability of the instructor

ChristianBoddum
03-10-2006, 11:20 AM
Hi !

When I started teaching children the age was 8 years and up,
now 4 years later we have settled on 12 years and up.
This is based on a few different things.

First ; the coordination of mind mind and body comes together
around 11-12 years.
And we teach Aikido not just moving.

Second ; to achieve a group that doesn't have to big a spread
age-wise.This is for the sake of the children not us.

This works well for us ,both children and teachers :)

Chr.Boddum

stelios
03-10-2006, 11:31 AM
My teacher started a new class with children aged 12-16.
At first it seemed impossible to even make them be quiet for a moment or two but gradually things are improving. Since my master is very serious in what he does, this echoes well into the child's mentallity. Yes it can be a game for them at first but gradually it can evolve to be what we believe Aikido is all about. All about all, really.