Joost Korpel wrote:
My son is 12 and has been practicing aikido for 6 months with my club.
I'm concerned about him taking breakfalls while his body is still actively growing. I personally would prefer he not take any breakfalls till he is 16, but I have no scientific basis for that decision and I don't want to uneccesarily retard his aikido development.So my question is, at what age is it appropriate to teach breakfalls with regards to growth development and what criteria do you use for your decision? I'm particularly interested in hearing from dojos with active youth participation.
We taught our 12 year old student to breakfall at the same time as we taught all the adult newer students. She is the only one who can and will do them in general class now! She has been training for about the same length of time as your son.
Make sure you find a good teacher who can inspire, give your son confidence, and ensure that he is taught safely. We used a big crash mat to get our students used to falling this way, then got them to use thinner mats until they were doing breakfalls on the regular tatami.
12 year olds are usually flexible, and tend to fly and bounce well. The most important thing for your son to learn is confidence in his own body's ability to take these falls. With confidence he can do anything!
All the best,