Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Children and Aikido
Our modern lives have made it very difficult for children to have the time, and patience for Aikido.
That is to say, the children who have the parents with time and means to enroll their children in Aikido classes usually drop them by the time they reach High School age, why?
The status and social rigors of adding notches to your High School Resume', the instinctual patterns of teens to resist doing what their parents do, and the struggling through bodychanges as the teen turns to adult ... never mind the preteens mimicing their older counterparts as 8-12 year olds try to grow up too quickly.
On a positive note, our LBI kids program has an instructor who is professionally a child psychologist, so it is emminently beneficial to both the program, and our Aikido kids who get a variety of fun practice drills as they try to understand the basic tenents of Aikido.
Many times adults will arrive early for the adult class and volunteer to be pinned or thrown by our younger practitioners.
I think, if you look back into your own childhood, you will observe the false faces displayed to the ruling adult community in an effort to maintain your own small underground society, so even if you were not part of a rebel cause you surely knew people who were and put on a false face for those in charge. In itself, it is not the cause of children being bored with aikido, but if we were to remember the lust for life we had in those early years to see the fantastic, the great strength of champions, and fantastic solutions to simple problems ... then you must admit that until you have been to the big city, or seen things from around the world Aikido is not the most glamorous of Martial Arts?
But on the other hand, once you have been to the big city, seen things from around the world, Aikido is an amazingly compact system of harmony for the body and spirit that does not comprimise your religious or social beliefs, it enhances them.
Taken in context, Children should be allowed to practice aikido on their own terms when children, go out and explore the world, then when they are grown and ready to come back to Aikido, they will embrace it without reserve or hesitation as an important piece to life and self defense in MA's.
It is very rare for a child to continue from childhood to adulthood in Aikido without an exploratory break, such as college, moving out on their own, or even marriage with children to cause a break ... nature of our society and survival of our social domains.
There are many social factors that effect the enrollment of children in Aikido, but basically it has to do with the parents income and understanding of what Aikido is, and what their own beliefs tell them to impart to their children.
More and more, I see the children under Ten years old category increasing in enrollment as the years go by, but the children twelve and up, including college students as a boundary to close the bracket, being a declining number in the sense that their training and membership may only be added up to two years in the next twelve years of life/ or educational pursuits? Sex, drugs, music? Maybe so, the base instincts of reproduction are stronger than some of us admit, and more uncontrolable in the younger wild years of our lives.
So, although children are physically drawn to the simplicity of Aikido in their younger years, the mastering of emotional balance escapes them for many years, as it should in the great scheme of things. But if they are allowed to pursue other interests, and they continue with even sporatic training in Aikido, they will return to its down to earth simplicity to understand its complexity to adapt in harmony to all other systems of MA's.
Let them be children, let them train with adults when they ask to, but they are children and must be met as such with their own limit of attention and understanding.
Some adults still have trouble comprehending the connection of inner being to physical demonstration of technique, so how do you explain things adults don't seem to understand?
I say, let them be children. Enjoy them while they are so cute, and polite ... later when they get surly pin them to the ground and have a long quiet talk ...
Dat's why us old folk need to keep practicing so we keep dem kid's polite.