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Old 05-26-2008, 10:15 AM   #1
Asiatic Budoka
 
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Children transitioning to adult class.

Greetings everyone,

I have a problem that I forsee in the next year or two that I have not experienced before. I have children students approaching their teen years that will be making the transition to the adult class. The problem is this...in the children's class we use colored belts, in the adult class we do not. I was wondering how this situation is handled at other schools. Should I make exceptions for the young adults (teens) and give them colored belts, or just explain to them the situation?

Any input will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Shareef Muhammad

"In order to change our condition, we must first change our way of thinking...it is actually thought that changes us.
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Old 05-26-2008, 10:57 AM   #2
DonMagee
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

This is not the same, but similar. In bjj and judo, kids have different colored belts then adults.

So kids go white/yellow/green then adults go white/blue/purple/brown/black. In judo the colors are also different. When a kid goes to the adult class, we let them wear their colored belt until they reach the next adult belt (blue for bjj or brown for judo).

I'd probably let the kid wear his belt until his next ranking, then present him with his 'adult' white belt.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 05-26-2008, 07:20 PM   #3
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

We have the same situation in my club. Our Sensei just lets them know what the deal is and they accept it pretty easily.
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Old 05-26-2008, 07:32 PM   #4
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

I would explain to them that in the adult class there are no belts so if they choose to join the adults they will be white until their black.

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If you value you're life, keep moving.

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Old 05-26-2008, 07:33 PM   #5
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Slightly off topic: I have the impression that many kids quit with aikido, when they become teens. I guess that when they enter puberty, which is quite a change in their lives, they want to change their pastime activities, too.
Do you others here have the same experience?

Stefan Stenudd
My aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/
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Old 05-26-2008, 08:28 PM   #6
wmreed
 
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

A couple of quick replies:

1. In our dojo, they wear their colored belts until they test for their first "adult ranking", then conform to adult standards. The situation is explained to them upfront as they begin to start adult classes. None of our students making that change complained. Nor did the adults.

2. To keep students from leaving as they hit teen years, we started a teen class two years ago. It's run like adult class, essentially, but without the need to "be" adults yet. It's worked very well, and has kept 50% of our teens going into adult class.

William M. Reed
Columbus, OH USA
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Old 05-27-2008, 09:48 AM   #7
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
Slightly off topic: I have the impression that many kids quit with aikido, when they become teens. I guess that when they enter puberty, which is quite a change in their lives, they want to change their pastime activities, too.
Do you others here have the same experience?
It happens in all martial arts schools. Children change as they grow up. During my karate years, I often saw kids start like tykes, doing awesome both in kata and kumite. And then, as soon they reached their early teenage years, they changed, became lazy and and unmotivated. Then they would quit. It happened so often - although not systematically - that I was against starting them at a very young age and I advised parents to wait until they were a bit older.
Another problem was precisely when they had to graduate from the kid's class to the adult class. Some of them struggled for a while before adapting. Others found the new standards offered by older and more mature partners overwhelming, even for kata. And it was not a belt problem. The belt system was the same for the whole school.
My own nephew started taekwondo - in the United States - at age eight and made it to black belt two years later. Then he quit.
How do more experienced instructors tackle these problems?
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Old 05-27-2008, 09:52 AM   #8
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
Slightly off topic: I have the impression that many kids quit with aikido, when they become teens. I guess that when they enter puberty, which is quite a change in their lives, they want to change their pastime activities, too.
Do you others here have the same experience?
It happens in all martial arts schools. Children change as they grow up. During my karate years, I often saw kids start like tykes, doing awesome both in kata and kumite. And then, as soon they reached their early teenage years, they changed, became lazy and and unmotivated. Then they would quit. It happened so often - although not systematically - that I was against starting them at a very young age and I advised parents to wait until they were a bit older.
Another problem was precisely when they had to graduate from the kid's class to the adult class. Some of them struggled for a while before adapting. Others found the new standards offered by older and more mature partners overwhelming, even for kata. And it was not a belt problem. The belt system was the same for the whole school.
My own nephew started taekwondo - in the United States - at age eight and made it to black belt two years later. Then he quit.
How do more experienced instructors tackle these problems?
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Old 05-27-2008, 10:28 AM   #9
Keith Larman
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

We have a rather robust children's program at our place (i.e., lots of kiddies). A few years back we created a once a week "advanced" kids class that was by invitation only. So on Friday nights after the "normal" kids class some of the older and more experienced kids get to stay for a second class that I teach. The newly invited kids to the advanced class are expected to do the regular kids class before coming to advanced. If they can only do one class they should do the first. The older kids who've been in the advanced class longer have more latitude about that, but the new kids must do the first class first. Basically I want to burn some energy out of them in the first class, give them a quick break, then get them focused and possibly build on what was done in the first hour.

Whenever new kids are invited into class they're given the same basic lecture. The class is invitation only. Which means they can be uninvited. It is run much like an adults class and I expect the same level of proper behavior and focus as I would of adults. I also make it clear that we push things up a notch or two. This is made clear to both the kids and their parents.

For me as instructor I view it really more like an intermediate adults class but with advanced kids instead. Many of these kids I've known for years and have been teaching for years so I already know where they're coming from. So my focus is on:

1. Making techniques more "real". Most of the kids invited to the advanced kids class have been coming a while and know the basics very well. What happens though over time is that they end up working a lot with newer kids who are often smaller and not as strong. So they often get overwhelmed quickly when faced with stronger, more focused attacks. They also tend to attack very slowly and carefully -- after all, most of their training up to this point was with smaller, newer kids. So they've subconsiously (sometimes) softened up their attacks so much they're really not there at all. The goal is to get them moving with confidence, focus, strength and power in their attacks. All so their aikido itself becomes better able to handle that sort of energy.

2. Preparing them for adult classes. Should they stay on long term they will be transitioning to classes where there may be adults. So it is about reinforcing etiquette and modeling more how adults would train. Kids classes invariably are looser, more casual things. It is the goal to get the kids to be able to sustain intensity and focus through a longer class where there isn't as much leeway for kid goofiness.

3. Preparing them for adult level tests. In our dojo once they hit about 14 we start testing them as adults. Basically kids start testing at 10th kyu, adults at 5th. So the transition from 6th to 5th is really a large jump from kiddie ranks to adult. And there simply is no "kid" 5th kyu test. There is no distinction. So if they get that far they will be in an adults test. I've had a number of kids test now for gokyu and even yonkyu. Each has aced their tests often doing better than all the adults testing for the same ranks. I've joked with the Chief Instructor that my ultimate goal is for my evil sith kids ninja death squad to shame the adults into preparing better for their tests. Just kidding of course, but there is a real lesson here. Some of these kids are so grounded in basics due to years and years of basic kids classes that if you get them going in a focused, strong, high expectation class they will often do *very* well *very* quickly. They hit about 13 or 14 and they can really blossom. They don't always realize just how good they are, but it is so ingrained at this point it becomes more about helping them realize what they're capable of already. So it becomes a huge advantage for them as they hit the adult ranks. As long as you can keep them interested and focused.

4. Keeping them interested and focused. yeah, I just said that in the last paragraph. But it is a major goal. The kids are going through a major series of changes in life. Hormones, friends, the new emotions and swings, etc. So I will slip in occasional things like doing munetsuki kotegaeshi. Then do it with a rubber knife. Then try to teach them some basic bokken takeaways from a tsuki. I introduce them to our jogi and kengi. I basically try to toss in advanced things they may not otherwise see as treats. Heck, I've done randori classes with the kids. Or jiyu waza sometimes depending on who was in class. All to push their limits a bit but also to keep it exciting and interesting. And I often ask for requests for future classes. I want to help them explore what they're interested in.

5. Self-defence and life in general. Yup, this raises its head. As the kids get older they face different issues in their lives. So we sometimes talk about the weird guy who is a bit too interested in them. Or the friend who touches a bit too much. Or pressures of school and family. I stay focused on aikido, conflict resolution, but I will sometimes touch on more advanced concepts like "sen no sen" vs. "go no sen". And how difficult it can be to know what to do or how to do it. I honestly worry about my kids. Especially the ones transitioning into adulthood. It is partly why I reacted so strongly to news of instructors having "relationships" with underage students. I've got 2 very good young ladies, both 14, both training under me. I know their lives are changing, they're maturing, they're becoming young women. And the idea of someone taking advantage of their developing psyches is just a horrid thought for me. They're wonderful kids but kids nonetheless. Even though as each day passes they look more and more like young women. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to help them navigate the next 5-10 years. Same is true of the boys too. They're stumbling into manhood. Tough time for all of them and the difficult part is making aikido relevant to their world.

6. Get them used to assisting and teaching. Here is where we really start to teach the older kids about helping the newer ones. I expect the more experienced older kids to be able to lead the warm ups. I will even sometimes assign them to teach a technique. I will have them work with the newer kids during practice and expect them to demonstrate proper behavior at all times. I explain to the newer kids the notion of looking to their sempai for how to behave and train. And then let those kids new to the advanced kids class know that I expect to see them doing the same for the brand new beginners in the regular kids classes. So it is about teaching responsibility for fellow students, leadership, and teaching by example. Which also means the importance of observing your peers carefully yourself and how learning is often something you need to be proactive about. Kids seem much more passive today about learning. They do what you ask but don't seem to delve any deeper than necessary. I hope to instill a habit of making learning a cooperative effort between student and teacher and between student and student.

Hopefully that helps a bit. I've been doing it for a couple years now and it seems to be working out. And that's how I've broken it down in my head. And yes, some of those kids who started when they were tiny in the kids program moved into the advanced class when they were 11 or twelve. Now some of them are 14 - 16. And the 16-year-old is now happily also training in the invitation only adults advanced class. And we're planning on giving 2 of the 14-year-old young ladies a shot at that as well soon. And they're getting scary good at times...

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Old 05-27-2008, 11:53 AM   #10
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
Slightly off topic: I have the impression that many kids quit with aikido, when they become teens. I guess that when they enter puberty, which is quite a change in their lives, they want to change their pastime activities, too.
Do you others here have the same experience?
I'm not saying 'yes' or 'no'; but I wonder what lends to your impression that kids quit aikido when they become teens?
Thanks,
jen

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:10 PM   #11
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Keith said:

"3. Preparing them for adult level tests. In our dojo once they hit about 14 we start testing them as adults. Basically kids start testing at 10th kyu, adults at 5th. So the transition from 6th to 5th is really a large jump from kiddie ranks to adult. And there simply is no "kid" 5th kyu test. There is no distinction. So if they get that far they will be in an adults test. I've had a number of kids test now for gokyu and even yonkyu. Each has aced their tests often doing better than all the adults testing for the same ranks. I've joked with the Chief Instructor that my ultimate goal is for my evil sith kids ninja death squad to shame the adults into preparing better for their tests. Just kidding of course, but there is a real lesson here. Some of these kids are so grounded in basics due to years and years of basic kids classes that if you get them going in a focused, strong, high expectation class they will often do *very* well *very* quickly. They hit about 13 or 14 and they can really blossom. They don't always realize just how good they are, but it is so ingrained at this point it becomes more about helping them realize what they're capable of already. So it becomes a huge advantage for them as they hit the adult ranks. As long as you can keep them interested and focused."

I really enjoyed and agreed with your entire above post. So, first off, thanks for the energy and thought that went into it and the training that created your thoughts and experience.

I wanted to make 2 limited comments on the above, section 3.

If we, as teachers, can keep in view that we are always teaching aikido to anyone, kids or otherwise, the transition is easier for those students because it is essentially the same. We need to be lighter in our application of techniques because of growing bodies ( or old bodies for that matter), cartiledge development and all; but we don't need to water it down for them. The most developed aikido is generally expressed simply and that is wonderful for kids and fortifies training for us 'grown-ups' while we're at it. In that way we are consistent and aligned as aikidoka.

Second. My kids who hit it up to 7th kyu have an immensely broader repetoire of technique, including weapons,than a shodan. In fact, they've been at it for about three years longer than your average shodan. So when they hit 5th kyu, it's like starting over. A great example of humility.

I love that you offer them leadership opportunities. They deserve that respect and you model it.

Right On, Keith!

Thanks,
Jen

p.s. I know i said brief comments. but........

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 05-27-2008 at 12:14 PM.

Jennifer Paige Smith
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:16 PM   #12
DonMagee
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Quote:
Marie Noelle Fequiere wrote: View Post
It happens in all martial arts schools. Children change as they grow up. During my karate years, I often saw kids start like tykes, doing awesome both in kata and kumite. And then, as soon they reached their early teenage years, they changed, became lazy and and unmotivated. Then they would quit. It happened so often - although not systematically - that I was against starting them at a very young age and I advised parents to wait until they were a bit older.
Another problem was precisely when they had to graduate from the kid's class to the adult class. Some of them struggled for a while before adapting. Others found the new standards offered by older and more mature partners overwhelming, even for kata. And it was not a belt problem. The belt system was the same for the whole school.
My own nephew started taekwondo - in the United States - at age eight and made it to black belt two years later. Then he quit.
How do more experienced instructors tackle these problems?
Part of the problem is emphasis on belts.

Belts are the worst reward system ever invented for martial arts. I've talked with a few "Mcdojo" instructors and I get the same response. The idea is to put them on a tredmill where they keep getting new belts right before they get bored until they reach black belt, then 98% will quit (because they won the game) the rest will stay to become teachers in the circle of mcdojo. So they change high prices will the expectation of turn over in 1-2 years (average time to black belt in most mcdojos).

This is a no child left behind approach to martial arts. Basically you make it easy fun and keep them interested with some tangible thing they get to keep. This motivates kids to do just enough to 'win' and keep showing up.

A better approach is no belts, or at least using belts for what they are for (classifying people into grades to prevent injury and promote fair competition). There are many other ways to reward children for doing good. My bjj instructor is like this. None of his kids have a belt above yellow (the second belt after white). He promotes yearly (adults, kids, etc) based on skill. He also makes no guarantees of belts.

Yes, this may hurt some feelings and some students will quit when they are left behind because they were not learning at the same rate as their peers, however, I do see his class has consistently more kids that stay for longer then the local belt mill. I have to think it is because the kids are being challenged, encouraged and rewarded with honesty and praise, not black belts. Even for the adults it's not about belts. I don't know anyone who asks when promotions are, or talks about how they want their purple belt so bad. I have seen guys quit who did not get promoted, but they did not belong there anyways.

It is no longer what rank you have, but what can you do. I see this in judo too. I've seen kids argue over rank. But in schools that do not focus on rank, but forcus on randori, they don't argue about it anymore.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:30 PM   #13
Trish Greene
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
I'm not saying 'yes' or 'no'; but I wonder what lends to your impression that kids quit aikido when they become teens?
Thanks,
jen
Hi there, I work with teenagers in a couple of different organizations, not just with Aikido (Boy Scouts as well). This is a symptom that happens with all different types of extracurricular activities, not just Aikido. With teenage boys we call it the "Fumes" (Car Fumes and "per" fumes!). I haven't seen it much with teenage girls though. Having two teenagers myself ( I know, it doesn't seem possible), I have seen my 14 yo son starting to get burned out from being so active ( Boy Scouts and Aikido). He has been in Aikido for several years.

Luckily my son loves Aikido! When he gets overwhelmed with activities, he will take a break for about a week, then come back to it.
They need to WANT to be there, not pushed or guilt tripped to be there. Foster that kind of environment and things will be a lot easier.

"Aikido is nothing but an expression of the spirit of Love for all living things."

Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:34 PM   #14
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

I'm inclined to agree with Don -- there's a lot of danger in using the belt system as an easy way to solve a difficult problem (that of retention). At some point the kids have to learn to love what they're doing for its own sake -- if they don't, as soon as the "carrot" of a new colored belt is gone, they'll be gone too.
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:54 PM   #15
Keith Larman
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

On the issue of belts as someone who's been teaching the little ones for a while.

For the little kids the belts can be kind of important to them. We never emphasize belts or rank with the kids, but... We do let them know that if they want to test we want to see responsibility, good behavior, etc. in class. And yes, it can be a motivating factor.

What I've found is that as the kids mature and get into the advanced program the concern about belts isn't that big a deal. They're already kind of at the "top" of their peer group at this point. And I'm more worried about building on their skills. Usually these kids have already been through a handful of tests and aren't as intimidated by them any longer. They've also been around long enough not to be so concerned with the belt itself. They've also learned lesson in humility many times over because as they get better I push harder as their instructor. They begin to realize the differences of size, ability, age and strength not to mention the skill that comes from lots of experience. So the focus is on doing things they want to learn at this point and they're usually not in any major rush about the belts.

Frankly I think focus on belts is an issue where people make them an issue. The really long term adults and really long term kids for that matter usually learn that the belt isn't that important.

Personally I think way too much time is wasted discussing "belt" issues. I've seen little kids get way too enamored with them. They aren't an issue -- they rarely last anyway. And I've seen long term folk who seem more concerned with the fact that they've been practicing for decades and don't want to get passed up by the up and comers who are still improving. That's their problem, no one else's.

Or as I'm often heard saying... Damatte keikoshiro. That's the attitude that's taken into the advanced kids class, just posed with a more positive spin... If the program and instructors don't dwell on belt and rank, neither will the students generally. Those who want that kind of recognition can go to any strip mall and learn at a McDojo, get belts, patches, and all the other little do-dads that mean absolutely nothing.

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Old 05-27-2008, 02:02 PM   #16
Jennifer Yabut
 
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

I also agree about the dangers of using the colored belt system. I enjoyed it during my TKD years as a teenager; my youngest brother and I were stupidly competitive about the belts. But when he quit (from boredom, I think?), it diminished the thrill of getting another belt for me. Not only that, the master instructor kept adding belts. It was nine ranks to 1st degree blackbelt when I first joined, and when I left, the number of ranks to black grew to *fifteen*. Two of those ranks were added when I was two ranks from black - and those ranks (called "Deputy Blackbelt...huh?!) happened to be above my current rank. And on top of the added belts, he cut down the classes from 1.5 hours to one hour. I was NOT happy with both of those developments and left (I was a "Deputy Blackbelt" at the time).

Belts will only motivate a child or teenager for a short amount of time. There needs to be some kind of substance in the training too. I quit that dojang because even at a young age, I saw the lack of substance behind the many colored belt ranks. Not to mention a LOT of mediocre kiddie blackbelts.

Makes me appreciate the white belt/black belt system even more.

"The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." - Miyamoto Musashi
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Old 05-27-2008, 02:05 PM   #17
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Ah, thank you guys . It did seem to me that something was wrong with this belt thing, but I thought that I was a grouch.
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Old 05-27-2008, 02:15 PM   #18
Keith Larman
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

I'll also add on the issue of belts -- if you are using belts to keep kids interested you've got bigger issues. For us tests come up once the kid has enough hours, has demonstrated proper behavior, and is learning the curriculum. Sometimes a kid may not test for a year or longer. Sometimes they may test faster. Sometimes we skip levels. Etc. For the kids it can come in handy to remind those with colored belts of their responsibilities in modelling good behavior for the newer students.

The issue here is one of extremes. Yes, McDojo's have truly hit upon the use of tests, belts, patches, etc. as a means of marketing, motivation and mostly making money. We had two people come train with us, both late teens, both blackbelts for a long time in a TKD dojang. They look like nascar drivers they had so many patches on their dogi. I jokingly asked if one guy had a patch for fire safety... It was truly amazing. They even had their names embroidered on the back of their dogi along with the fact that they were a "black belt" (I guess wearing the belt wasn't enough -- you needed a sign so the color blind would know for sure too). All ego, no substance.

Heck, we just had a kid sign up who was "close to blackbelt" in a local karate school. All of 10 years old. Mind boggling to me.

But all that said, those are extreme examples. Ranking goes on no matter what. Ego's get involved no matter what. There are always behavioral demonstrations of alpha status, authority, etc. I remember one place telling me they had no belts but then I was told I had to line up over there because that guy to one side was more experience than the guy on the other. Um, okay. Then there was clearly a "pecking order" in practice dramatically more obvious than where I train now where we use a belt system. The belts don't guarantee proper behavior. The lack of belts don't either. Extreme examples are just that -- extreme examples.

but now I'm wasting my time discussing it, something I'd promised to not do... So... time for me to take my own advice. Damatte keikoshiro. I've got work to do.

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Old 05-28-2008, 03:40 AM   #19
philipsmith
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Just my thoughts:
kids will leave in their teens no matter what. That is true of all activities not just Aikido.
In terms of those who stay there needs to be some method of transition, over the past couple of years we have adopted the following system.

6 - 12 years solid belt colours
12-18 belts with horizontal white stripe

also only 6 kyu grades but each is split into three parts so that grades go mukyu + 1 stripe, + 2 stripes, 6th kyu and so on.

At age 18 they have to sit their current grade again.
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Old 05-29-2008, 05:44 AM   #20
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Thank you all for your insight. That's what makes this forum so valuable. It is said that some people saw Niagra Falls and remarked "What a lovely waterfall!" While others saw it and said "What a tremendous source of power!" The various perspectives are wonderful, because I certainly don't see every angle.

Domo Arigato Gozaimasta!

Shareef Muhammad

"In order to change our condition, we must first change our way of thinking...it is actually thought that changes us.
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Old 05-30-2008, 12:16 PM   #21
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

Quote:
Trish Greene wrote: View Post
Hi there, I work with teenagers in a couple of different organizations, not just with Aikido (Boy Scouts as well). This is a symptom that happens with all different types of extracurricular activities, not just Aikido. With teenage boys we call it the "Fumes" (Car Fumes and "per" fumes!). I haven't seen it much with teenage girls though. Having two teenagers myself ( I know, it doesn't seem possible), I have seen my 14 yo son starting to get burned out from being so active ( Boy Scouts and Aikido). He has been in Aikido for several years.

Luckily my son loves Aikido! When he gets overwhelmed with activities, he will take a break for about a week, then come back to it.
They need to WANT to be there, not pushed or guilt tripped to be there. Foster that kind of environment and things will be a lot easier.
Thanks for your experiences.

I personally don't have difficulty in this area. My students have been with me for years; through childhood, adolescence, and into young adult-hood. I have my own educated perspectives and I'm curious about others.

I was specifically wondering what led Stefan to come to his conclusion.So, the question is still open to Stefan..... Thanks.

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 05-30-2008 at 12:19 PM.

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Old 05-30-2008, 12:20 PM   #22
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

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Jennifer Yabut wrote: View Post
I also agree about the dangers of using the colored belt system. I enjoyed it during my TKD years as a teenager; my youngest brother and I were stupidly competitive about the belts. But when he quit (from boredom, I think?), it diminished the thrill of getting another belt for me. Not only that, the master instructor kept adding belts. It was nine ranks to 1st degree blackbelt when I first joined, and when I left, the number of ranks to black grew to *fifteen*. Two of those ranks were added when I was two ranks from black - and those ranks (called "Deputy Blackbelt...huh?!) happened to be above my current rank. And on top of the added belts, he cut down the classes from 1.5 hours to one hour. I was NOT happy with both of those developments and left (I was a "Deputy Blackbelt" at the time).

Belts will only motivate a child or teenager for a short amount of time. There needs to be some kind of substance in the training too. I quit that dojang because even at a young age, I saw the lack of substance behind the many colored belt ranks. Not to mention a LOT of mediocre kiddie blackbelts.

Makes me appreciate the white belt/black belt system even more.
This inspired some thoughts in me:

Teach real aikido to kids and they will love aikido if it is for them.

Also, yesterday, one of my younger students was taking his 10th kyu and his mom pulled me aside and said ".....is thinking of quitting because aikido is' boring'." And I told her, "I don't test people who are about to quit."
When confronted with a strong boundry, aikido got pretty interesting pretty quick. Kids like to test their enviroments, so it needs be based on integrity. I was willing to lose a student to maintain principle. That, it turns out, was interesting to this child. It established the 'worth' of our practice. It wasn't the enticement of just the 10th kyu opportunity but it was adhering to the backbone of our principles. He glowed during, and after his exam.

I've trained and ranked, probably, 1000's of young people over the last 15-20 years. If you keep it real, they'll get real with you.

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 05-30-2008 at 12:34 PM.

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Old 05-30-2008, 02:08 PM   #23
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

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Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
Also, yesterday, one of my younger students was taking his 10th kyu and his mom pulled me aside and said ".....is thinking of quitting because aikido is' boring'." And I told her, "I don't test people who are about to quit."
When confronted with a strong boundry, aikido got pretty interesting pretty quick. Kids like to test their enviroments, so it needs be based on integrity. I was willing to lose a student to maintain principle. That, it turns out, was interesting to this child. It established the 'worth' of our practice. It wasn't the enticement of just the 10th kyu opportunity but it was adhering to the backbone of our principles. He glowed during, and after his exam.
I'd like to think it was so, but do you really think that this "younger student" really thought, "Wow, this teacher has integrity! And principles! That's interesting!"? Or was it instead a matter of not wanting to deal with Mom and Dad's meltdown over quitting? Or perhaps a matter of wanting that new shiny belt?
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Old 05-31-2008, 10:08 AM   #24
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I'd like to think it was so, but do you really think that this "younger student" really thought, "Wow, this teacher has integrity! And principles! That's interesting!"? Or was it instead a matter of not wanting to deal with Mom and Dad's meltdown over quitting? Or perhaps a matter of wanting that new shiny belt?
What was created was an environment of integrity, principle, and worth. Those things are best when they are provided invisibly without using the actual words to the student and without hitting them over the head with it.

His thoughts are his own and I don't guess at them. I will know if his respect for his own training is lasting by the training that follows his promotion. Same as with a grown-up.

Now, try to figure out what a grown-up is thinking with the golden carrot hanging in front of them...that would be interesting.

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 05-31-2008 at 10:18 AM.

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Old 05-31-2008, 10:26 AM   #25
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Re: Children transitioning to adult class.

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Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
I was specifically wondering what led Stefan to come to his conclusion.So, the question is still open to Stefan..... Thanks.
So, I have to reply
I was a bit confused by your question, the first time you asked it on this thread. Others have agreed that there is a tendency for kids to quit when they reach puberty, so I thought that this was common knowledge.
If you have found a way to keep your kids through that transition - congratulations! Please, continue to share your experiences, since you are surely on to something.

Me, I have direct and indirect experiences of kids tending to leave when they become teens. In Sweden, aikido belongs to the Swedish Budo & Martial Arts Federation, of which I am a board member, and I have talked to representatives of most of these arts, and they all have the same experience regarding kids turning into teens.
That is why I started to speculate that it has to do with the need in kids to change their lives almost completely, in their passage from children to adolescents.

Does that answer your question?

Stefan Stenudd
My aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/
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