Mark Freeman wrote:
Our emphasis is on movement and co-ordination, and not using 'strength' to apply techniques. ( you've probably guessed I am from the Ki end of the aikido spectrum ).
I'm not from the KI end of the spectrum, but that's how I teach too, that's what all Aikido should be like.
With regards black belts for kids, I don't think so. 17 or 18 is fine assuming that theyve been practicing for a while before hand. Our association too has a grading structure for juniors that pretty much makes it impossible for them to grade to black belt.
I started a junior class about 2 and a half years ago, my minimum age was originally 7, because the first student who joined it was then 7. All my original students bar 2 still train with me, but I have changed the beginning age to 9. this is because the age range is too diverse and I can't spread enough of myself around the class in an hour to benefit them all. If they're a little older, it's easier for me.
One of my original students is now 15, and she has just switched into my senior class. It's been an eye opener for her, but, a couple of weeks back she was practicing with three strapping chaps (one a visitor from Holland), 2 well over 6 feet tall, and she floored all three of them one after the other with fantastic tenchinage's, it was a pleasure to watch.
I agree with most here, maturity and age are not at all related.