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Old 01-14-2004, 03:34 PM   #1
Lorien Lowe
Dojo: Northcoast Aikido
Location: California
Join Date: Jul 2002
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teaching kids

I was recently given the responsibility of a 7-10 year old children's class. The second class went a little better than the first, but I still feel like I should be doing better. Any general advice would be appreciated, as well as answers to some specific questions:

how does one better inspire kids about aikido?

what kind of technique/aikido-game ratio is appropriate for this age group?

Is there any way to deal with a reluctant/disruptive student (the parent does not want to hear that their child isn't enjoying the class) other than having him/her sit out? (or expelling him/her?)

thanks
-Lorien
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Old 01-14-2004, 03:57 PM   #2
Steven
 
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I tell my kids if they work really hard and do their best, they get to throw me at the end of class.

I get thrown a lot come to think of it.

As for disruptive kids, I will talk them about appropriate behavior, but only once. After that, I have no issue speaking with the parents straight up. If the child doesn't want to be there, then they do me and the rest of the class no good.

I told one parent that our dojo is not a baby sitting service and she was required to be at every class with her child. No more problems!
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Old 01-14-2004, 04:16 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Where I used to assist with a kids program, with pretty much the same age range, the one hour class format was:

group in a circle for seated warmups

lots of rolling practice (front rolls: tiny, medium, large, silent, noisy, pancake, crosshand, plus backrolls and back-into-frontrolls)--this is good for their training and also burns a LOT of energy! and as a reward sometimes "freestyle silly rolls".

then a couple of techniques--no more then 2 or at most 3.

then an aikido-related game.

Yes, letting them throw you is great. I loved roving the mat and taking ukemi for them.

I did insist on seated timeouts sitting quietly at the side of the mat for acting out.

In my experience, with the age group you have, it really can be more than babysitting. Don't let one or two disruptors ruin it for those who are interested in learning and having fun.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 01-14-2004, 05:29 PM   #4
Aikiscott
Dojo: Central Coast Aikikai
Location: Gosford
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Hi

I recently started a Kids class(7-15 but all students are 9 or 10 yo) with another student form my Dojo, on the request of our sensei (I'm 1st kyu & he is 3rd Kyu, we don't have any Yudansha apart from sensei). Our Class usualy starts with a warm up then Taisabaki and Ukemi then we may do some fun exercise with body movement or Ukemi. We usualy cover 1 new technique & then do a review of the technique from last week. Then in the last 10-15 min we play various games, though my kids think suwarawaza Kokyu is a game because they get to Nail the teachers & usualy is the 1st game they ask to play.

Part of our Dojo is taken up with a boxing ring(we are in a Youth Centre)& sometimes the kids drift off watching the boxers pound away at each other, we bring them back to reality by asking them to get up in front of class & demonstrate what they had been shown or ask the boxing instructor if he wants a new student in the ring with him. This brings them back quickly & now isn't a problem.

Unruly students are ask to settle down, then they are warned that they are going to get a time out and then they sit on the side of the mat. Though I have yet to call time out on a student. If a student persists then I wouldn't think twice about talking with the parents.

to keep the kids inspired I try to show them what they are building up to by showing the technique they are practicing from all the attacks. We also let them ask questions & try to help them work it through safely.

The problem we have is getting enough kids interested to Join the class.
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Old 01-15-2004, 07:44 AM   #5
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
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Teaching kids in aikido is the most difficult thing to do. I have found that aikido techniques are difficult to teach because they are so intricate and require so much body control. The kids also have difficulty staying focused.

What I developed was the following:

We have a short warmup and then do a little tai sabaki. I usually pick a movement for a technique we will be doing, I usually do only one technique per class and just use variations for additional techniques.

The kids love to do freestyle so with the rule that nage can't throw, only touch and that ukes can't "track" the person, I let them do a modified from of freestyle where they use the whole mat and practice their movement. They start with one attacker and I send in a second and third if they are doing well. They love it and if they aren't behaving or if they don't follow the rules of the exercise, they miss a turn. It helps teach them aikido movement and that you shouldn't try to throw people but keep moving until they are actually within your maai. We also practice sitting in seiza in segments as a cool down where we start with 10 seconds at the start of class and increase to 30 seconds as the class progresses. I have also devised other high speed exercises that we practice safely because they are modified aikido techniques that teach parts of aikido movement

At our last exam, we had 6 and 7 year olds sit in sieza for 20 minutes observing the exams without moving. They were able to do it because we had continually practiced it in segments in all our classes. The 20 minute one was their first time to sit for more than a minute and surprised all of us including the chief instructor of our school and certainly all the parents.

I am not a game player and don't like games but I think I have found a happy medium between games and aiki exercises. In our new dojo, I hope to devise more of these aiki exercises since I will be teaching 4 childrens classes a week.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Jorge Garcia : 01-15-2004 at 07:47 AM.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 01-15-2004, 04:17 PM   #6
wendyrowe
Dojo: Aikidog Aikikai
Location: Massachusetts
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I have a question about teaching ukemi to children:

Our aikido class shares space with a karate school, and the owner (he's also our wonderful karate teacher) likes aiki techniques enough that he's incorporating some into his karate classes. I just started helping coach some of the kids' classes, and the thing some of them have the most trouble with is ukemi. Some of them must never have done even a somersault (that goes for some 6-10 year olds as well as some 4-6 year-olds), so no matter how many times I show them how to take ukemi forwards from a kneeling position and no matter how many times I help position their arms and legs and have them practice the arm motions before rolling, at the moment of the roll they go sideways and do a log roll.

Does anyone have any ideas on how I can teach them better?

My 12-year-old son used to go sideways, too, but with him I threw him (gently) a few times on the mats in my makeshift basement dojo so he could get a feel for what he needed to do. That made him decide to try standing ukemi, which he did fine. But I wouldn't want to throw other people's small children, and I don't think it would be safe for them to try standing ukemi before they learn it kneeling.

One other question: Janet, what's a "pancake" roll?
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Old 01-15-2004, 09:32 PM   #7
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
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It has been my experience that it is extremely difficult to teach proper rolling technique to 6 and 7 year olds. Having said that,if they are not overweight, I have found that they will learn to roll naturally like kids do when they are just playing around. With kids that are overweight I have had to get them in position, hold them by the hips and toss them over. Another thing I have done that helps them get the feeling of a proper roll is to use our mattress like high impact mat. I can actually breakfall them into it with no fear of injuring them. They love it too and it gives them a chance to feel the sensation of their body going over. Those mats are expensive though.

Best wishes,

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 01-23-2004, 10:52 PM   #8
Lorien Lowe
Dojo: Northcoast Aikido
Location: California
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Thanks for your suggestions. I've had three classes so far, and each seemed very slightly more under control than the last. I think that a lot of my difficulty is in simple lack of experience with kids.

-Lorien
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Old 01-24-2004, 01:13 AM   #9
indomaresa
Dojo: Aiki Kenkyukai
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yes, janet. I'm also interested in pancake rolls. And the silly freestyle rolls too. Do you tell them to just roll however they want or is this something original? (I'm getting visions )

I've always found that children grasps the basic tehcniques like ducks to water. The problem with this proficiency however is keeping their attention for the duration of their training.

I think Janet's idea to roll them to their limit is a good idea.

The road is long...
The path is steep...
So hire a guide to show you the shortcuts
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Old 01-24-2004, 04:14 AM   #10
Col.Clink
Dojo: Waiuku Ki Society
Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Dec 2002
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Quote:
Wendy Rowe (wendyrowe) wrote:
I have a question about teaching ukemi to children:

Our aikido class shares space with a karate school, and the owner (he's also our wonderful karate teacher) likes aiki techniques enough that he's incorporating some into his karate classes. I just started helping coach some of the kids' classes, and the thing some of them have the most trouble with is ukemi. Some of them must never have done even a somersault (that goes for some 6-10 year olds as well as some 4-6 year-olds), so no matter how many times I show them how to take ukemi forwards from a kneeling position and no matter how many times I help position their arms and legs and have them practice the arm motions before rolling, at the moment of the roll they go sideways and do a log roll.

Does anyone have any ideas on how I can teach them better?
Hi Wendy,

you could try a couple of things.

1) from kneeling, hold the childs foot/shin just above the ankle with one hand, and place your other hand on the small part back of their neck/head. As they begin their roll, help them over with a lift on the foot (also placement for coming out of the roll), and presure on the head to tuck it in. This gives them the feeling of HOW they should feel their bodies moving. Some, of course, may take a little more help than others.Persevere.

2) Happens to be my favourite, monkey rolls. Yes, this involves walking like a monkey (standing), then rolling over on one arm. Let everything be loose and floppy, legs wide apart and knees quite bent, shoulders hunched over (provides a round back), extend one bent arm and roll. LOTS of fun too!!

After a few goes, have them try with some momentum (monkey running) then roll.

(currently planning on a video for this, embarressing but fun)

The log rolls, over time, should cease as they get more co-ordination. Patience and trust, maybe the odd obstacle (pillow/Jo)to roll over and more patience and trust, and they should be fine!

good luck

Cheers

rob

"Excess leads to the path of Wisdom"
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Old 05-12-2004, 05:44 AM   #11
arderljohn
Dojo: Manila Aikido Club
Location: manila
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Re: teaching kids

Hi Lorien, this is a short but very good advice.

1) Play with them as you play with your kids or ur bro/sis.
2) Be nice to them.
3) Sometimes it is not bad to pretend to be like them.
4) Always smile
5) Tell good story if you have to/ bring some candies or choco
6) And above all. dont push them to hard practice

Remember your dealing with the kids.
Enjoy..
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Old 05-12-2004, 11:46 AM   #12
Bronson
 
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Re: teaching kids

Quote:
richard manabat wrote:
1) Play with them as you play with...ur bro/sis.
Tie them to a chair, cut their hair, put pudding down their pants, and pelt them with Legos?!

Well, at least that's how we "played" as kids

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 05-13-2004, 04:33 AM   #13
Tadhg Bird
 
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Re: teaching kids

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
how does one better inspire kids about aikido?
I have found that my own enthusiasm for the art is the best inspiration. Another "trick" is to get them to respond positivly, by giving them an example of the "proper" response to something.

For example, I like to say, "Now its time to work on techniques!" The first time I said that I got some "awes" and not much enthusiasm. Then I demonstrated the proper response, "When I say 'time to work on our techniques' I want to hear, 'Yay! Techniques!' ... time to work on our techniques!" Then they would cheer, just cuz I made a game of it. After a few classes with this they would cheer without prompting, and soon, the cheering even became sincere.

Also if you have an adult assistant, showing some Aikido at your level can also inspire.

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
what kind of technique/aikido-game ratio is appropriate for this age group?
Past age 7, I have found that games need to be rarely used. I tended to use them sparingly, usually as a reward for a paticularly focused class. My mentor only does games the week before a promotion -- then its a game class. Younger than 7, games are more important. My mentor also had the opinion that doing games was kind of 'lazy' for the instructor.

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
Is there any way to deal with a reluctant/disruptive student (the parent does not want to hear that their child isn't enjoying the class) other than having him/her sit out? (or expelling him/her?)
Remember that we never punish a child in an Aikido class -- they get appropiate consequences for thier actions. For reluctant students, I let them set thier pace until they are comfortable, usually pairing them with a more advanced student who becomes thier "buddy" for the class session, and helps them out.

Disruptive students must not be allowed to prevent the rest of the class from training. Sometimes I have found that some one-on-one suwari waza with a disruptive student can get him or her refocused. Another thing I have done is not let them be uke, and the nage they are working with (or myself) is given the instruction not to do the technique until they are focused. A few minutes of that, and then you allow them to be nage -- if focus is retained. If not, then back to being uke with a waiting nage.

Ofcourse this is what has worked for me, with the students I have had. YMMV, ofcourse.

"Words and letters can never adequately describe Aikido -- its meaning is revealed only to those who are enlightened through hard training." -- Ueshiba Morihei O Sensei
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http://www.AikidoStuff.com
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Old 05-17-2004, 04:56 PM   #14
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: teaching kids

Teaching children isn't as hard as most make it out to be. You, as the teacher, should transform into a moderator role from the teacher role as often as possible.

Children learn from play and they learn from each other. The class should be interactive for everyone. As the moderator you guide them along in the right direction.

The best game I have found is dodge ball. They love to run around uninhibited and throw a ball at each other. The person that gets tagged comes to the center of the room and performs a task; a technique, roll, name dojo rules etc. If they cannot perform the requested material there is a small punishment to insure that next time the child will know. If the ball is caught, the person who threw the ball is brought to the center.

I usually save this game for the last 15 minutes of class and use it as a reward for hard work in the earlier portion of class.

Lyle Laizure
www.hinodedojo.com
Deru kugi wa uta reru
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Old 06-19-2004, 02:36 AM   #15
Raul Roldan
Dojo: Aikikai NSW
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Re: teaching kids

Lorien,
There's one resource you might want to look at; though, I'm not sure if this video is still in available, Teaching Aikido to Children, by Bruce Bookman Sensei of Seattle Aikikai. I can't recall where i ordered this from as it was ages ago but here's some details (i'm hoping this is still current) of Seattle Aikikai printed on the video case cover, Tel. (206) 525 4032, Fax: (206) 525 4838. Whilst i haven't taught children in a formal setting myself, i've used it to play with my own children and i found that from time to time they'd remind me to play "pushing the mountain" or some other games shown therein.

Raul
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Old 07-29-2004, 06:18 AM   #16
Tokonara
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Re: teaching kids

My respect to all of you. I personally have found teaching children very difficult and no longer teach any younger than 15. I do not no how my sensei did it with me Keep up the good work.

Tora Lawson
Tokonara Ryu
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Old 07-29-2004, 10:13 AM   #17
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
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Re: teaching kids

In my school , I have been teaching kids for 5 months now. I have 40 students and 30 are kids that come in two classes-ages 6 to 8 and 9 to 12. The older group is easy and fun to teach. The younger group presents more challenges. Some of the kids are there because their parents put them in it but they don't want to be there at all. There are two or three that talk incessantly and can't stop for any reason including instruction time or being asked to stop talking. A couple are unsocialized and do things like blow into their neighbor's ear or lay down on the mat and refuse to participate in the class. The rest, which is 85 percent of the class, act great, have a good time, follow instructions, and behave beautifully. It's somewhat of a missionary endeavor and is not as fulfilling as teaching those that are older but it supports our school and is part of the reason we can be here, so for me at least, that makes it worth doing. If you want to see some of my kids (we have more now than when these pics were taken) go to www.shudokanaikido.com and click on the Aikido photos link at the left.
Best wishes,

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 07-29-2004, 10:14 AM   #18
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
Location: On the road - UK
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Re: teaching kids

Dear Lorien,

You have the most important job at the dojo, smile and be proud!

Threads:

http://aikiweb.com/forums/search.php?searchid=12962

Some advice on instructing children:

1. Give lots and lots of positive feedback. "good job", "great ukemi", smile pat them on the back if they don't speak English. Candy from a technique is the throw at the end. This is a fairly novel concept to most Aikidoka used to be told off continuously. Article here:

http://aikiweb.com/teaching/zimmerdahl1.html

2. Give disruptive children a task so they feel special, e.g. To get evone lined up straight for the bow, to be "safety monitor".

3. Kids love beating up adults as someone else has mentioned. Telling big people what to do as well, i.e. take requests.

4. Break techniques into small bits and build them up.

5. Move quickly and hold attention using eye contact, open questions (prev mentioned) and changing the tone of your voice.

6. Balance fun and discipline in your sessions. Kids actually like discipline, structure and repetition as it makes them feel safe. Definite boundaries need to be established.

I have very limited experience of doing Aikido with kids but instruct outdoor education for a living so I hope these things help.

Remember kids are way smarter than adults, rarely smoke and drink and are used to learning new stuff, so it should be a doddle!

Mark
x

p.s. To all: This is a good example of why this:

http://aikiweb.com/forums/showthread...6489#post76489

may be a good idea. Feedback please... Perhaps "Children and Aikido" could be the first one.
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Old 07-29-2004, 10:17 AM   #19
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
Location: On the road - UK
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Re: teaching kids

Poem I wrote a few years ago. Not very good but maybe interesting:

Demanding practice.

My most difficult practice
was with two children;
aged about 8 and 12.

One was angry and wanted to hurt and adult,
you wouldn't want to guess why.
He tried to stamp on my head,
after Ikkyo.

The other his sister,
a sweet little blond girl,
delicate as trust, like a baby sparrow.
Good giggle kiai.

To not hurt your attacker no matter how fragile or aggressive,
is why aikido is difficult.

Off the mat we are all children.
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