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Old 07-11-2006, 09:36 AM   #1
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Children and adults together

Recently 2 children aged 5 and 7 have started training with our evening aikido class.

I find it very difficult to train with them, they are less than a third of my size. my frustration lies on 3 levels:

- They are too small to offer any attack above waist height
- They sometimes lack the attention span to focus on the mat for the duration of the class
- Because of their size I do not feel comfortable throwing them or applying techniques to them.

I would really like some other perspectives on this, am I being selfish? Should I suck it up and train with whoever the Sensei allows onto the mat?

Is it reasonable to not want to practice with a five year old?

What should I do?
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:42 AM   #2
James Davis
 
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Re: Children and adults together

Get down on your knees and get into "kid mode". Play.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:44 AM   #3
DonMagee
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Re: Children and adults together

I had this problem when I first started judo. There were not enough adults so we were merged with the children's class until we could get enough adults. Try working hip throws on a 10 year old half your height.

I decided that it was counter productive to have children in the class. Mostly because of the reasons you mentioned. The simple solution was that I spoke to the teacher and we worked out a way to keep the adults and children practicing separate but at the same class. We were usually odd numbered, so one adult would take turns teaching the children under the watchful eye of the teacher, and we would rotate throughout class. I found this very educational as I got to better understand the throws though teaching them to children.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:55 AM   #4
happysod
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Re: Children and adults together

With Don all the way on this one and I have to say I'm impressed at the compromise he mentions. While I'm sure many people will wax lyrical about teaching and training with children, I'm not a fan of the mixed age groups.

As for being selfish - so what. It may be aikido, but its also your precious free time and so a little selfishness is in order.
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Old 07-11-2006, 09:56 AM   #5
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Children and adults together

I personally would have major problems with students that young training with adults in the same class. Teenagers can often be included safely with the adult class. But pre-teens are a worry...the normal kind of oops throw that lands an adult on another adult can be disasterous enough. An adult thrown into a child is really not something I would ever want to see.

I don't know the situation, so I assume the instructor has safeguards in place...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 07-11-2006, 10:04 AM   #6
Mark Freeman
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Re: Children and adults together

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
I personally would have major problems with students that young training with adults in the same class. Teenagers can often be included safely with the adult class. But pre-teens are a worry...the normal kind of oops throw that lands an adult on another adult can be disasterous enough. An adult thrown into a child is really not something I would ever want to see.

I don't know the situation, so I assume the instructor has safeguards in place...

Best,
Ron
Good points Ron,

Safety has to be the main concern when kids are involved. For this reason we don't let under 12's on the adult mat. Hovever I do believe there is a place for parent / child classes in aikido as the practice then is in a slightly different context and would be beneficial to both.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 07-11-2006, 10:19 AM   #7
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Children and adults together

Hi Mark, I agree with that. I have seen cases where parents training with their kids and even siblings training together had remarkable results in the family dynamic.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 07-11-2006, 11:39 AM   #8
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: Children and adults together

We don't mix the two classes, but we do ask the adults who are testing in the adult class to attend the kids' class and take ukemi for their testing. Our Mini Mes start at ten years of age and by fifteen or so, migrate to the adult classes generally. This testing scenario works well for us and brings a look of surprise to both groups sometimes. The adults are sometimes quite surprised at how "martial" the kids can perfrom and the kids are jazzed when they throw or pin someone twice their size. Mixing training classes though would be too difficult I think and too dangerous in terms of an accident on the mat. Both groups get enough bumps and bruises in their own environment without adding the dynamic of bigger and heavier bodies into the mix.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 07-11-2006, 12:17 PM   #9
Mark Gibbons
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Re: Children and adults together

I'm not sure the size issue is real. Small adult women - 5 ft 100 lbs. 3 10-11 year olds in our kids class (5ft - 5'1'' 76 - 110 lbs). Not that big of a difference. The kids have near perfect rolls. They don't enjoy the adult classes as much as kids and teen classes but size isn't a good reason to keep them out.

Mark
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Old 07-11-2006, 05:12 PM   #10
Hucqie
Dojo: Cape Town School of Aikido
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Re: Children and adults together

The original thread refers to children of between 5 & 7, personally I think it is insane to have them in an adult class. I weigh roughly 90kg (+-200lbs) and I would hate to think what would happen if I was accidentally thrown onto / fell onto an Uke weighing 25kg (+-55lbs).

Some of the other threads on this website make reference to how devestating aikido techniques can be, does this not therefore raise the issue of whether a child's body can handle the throws and trechniques performed within a normal adult class?
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Old 07-11-2006, 06:10 PM   #11
aikigirl10
Dojo: Aikido of Ashland
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Re: Children and adults together

Quote:
Recently 2 children aged 5 and 7 have started training with our evening aikido class.

I find it very difficult to train with them, they are less than a third of my size. my frustration lies on 3 levels:

- They are too small to offer any attack above waist height
- They sometimes lack the attention span to focus on the mat for the duration of the class
- Because of their size I do not feel comfortable throwing them or applying techniques to them.

I would really like some other perspectives on this, am I being selfish? Should I suck it up and train with whoever the Sensei allows onto the mat?

Is it reasonable to not want to practice with a five year old?

What should I do?
Would you feel the same way practicing with a dwarf? (minus the attention span thing) The point is... sometimes you have to adjust your way of training to suit the needs of others.. even if it means suiting the needs of children.

I started training when i was 8, and i'm sure the adults got tired of practicing with me, but they had to do it in order for *me* to learn, they need training partners just as much as you do. And not only this, but you can learn alot by helping *them* understand.

I've had experience both as the child, and as the one trying to cope with the child, and both can be frustrating. When i was young, it was definitely difficult for me to throw a grown man, no doubt, so don't you think they are feeling just as frustrated as you are? I can totally understand where your frustration is coming from, and i'm not saying u are being selfish, but you need to look at things from *all* points of view and not just your own.

*Paige*
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Old 07-12-2006, 01:55 AM   #12
philipsmith
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Re: Children and adults together

Ideally you shouldn't mix age groups in this way.

Childrens skeletal systems are still developing especially their joints and so they simply cannot receive "adult" techniques. Also their may be legal issues with adults and children changing together and what is termed as "inappropriate contact" between children and adults.

Current UK advice is no children under 12 on adult classes, and even then 12-16 year olds should train together where possible.
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Old 07-12-2006, 05:14 AM   #13
DmG
 
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Re: Children and adults together

Children are hard question. I get contacted quite a lot by parents (used to the Karate Kid system) that want their 5 year old or 8 year old to train aikido.....even though our information clearly states that we only take "youths" 11 and above. I even had one mother lie to me about the age of her child....told me he was 'almost 11' (so I gave in)...and then 3 months later, I found out he celebrated his 9th birthday (??? go figure).

For me, it is unfair to the paying adults to ask them to train regularly with children. Yes, I beleive there is some benefit (which is why I do encourage the adults to come to the kids class as a warm up before the adult class).....but over and above the safety factor, the attention span of children do not allow them to learn in the same way as an adult. If I came to class to learn aikido, and then spent an hour corralling kids and playing shiko soccor....I'd be a little annoyed (if that were my only training time).

I think martial arts are great for kids. I think there are a lot of dojos/dojangs in our town that cater especially to kids and kids programs (however, the reason I get approached so much is that those places require contracts, minimum training days and required participation in a paid ranking system where they pay to get tested every two weeks). I do not feel guilty about turning away children that I deem too young....even though at times, it has cost me a whole family....(I had one guy who told me that if the whole family couldn't train with us, then none of them could.....????....not sure of that logic...he could have taken his youngest ones - the youngest was only 4 - around the corner to the karate school and he, his wife and his oldest child could have trained with us. He told me he and his wife always wanted to learn aikido...guess not enough to figure it out!)
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Old 07-14-2006, 08:24 AM   #14
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
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Re: Children and adults together

Children need their own class, as in regular education. It is useful for adults and children to train together on a 'time to time' basis, but not on a regular basis, for each needs some time for their own space. Aikido dojo do well to start and run their own children's classes, and many dojo have been pretty successful in that regard. Aikido standards for adults and children are not the same because their differences are respected.
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Old 08-23-2006, 10:09 PM   #15
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Children and adults together

Shikko
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Old 08-23-2006, 11:20 PM   #16
Brad Pruitt
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Re: Children and adults together

Quote:
Children need their own class, as in regular education. It is useful for adults and children to train together on a 'time to time' basis, but not on a regular basis, for each needs some time for their own space. Aikido dojo do well to start and run their own children's classes, and many dojo have been pretty successful in that regard. Aikido standards for adults and children are not the same because their differences are respected.
I agree with Mark here. I lead our kids program and it wouldn't be fair to have very small children in the adult class. I do encourage all the adults to come and assist in the kids class. You sure can learn a lot especially in the way in which you have to use control and physical restraint. They are so small and we need to take care of them. You adjust your approach as with anyone with whom you train. ultimately you deal with what you are given and to me that is Aikido.
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Old 08-26-2006, 05:05 PM   #17
Jenn
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Re: Children and adults together

Frankly, I'm shocked the parents are OK with that. As a mother myself, I would not want my children training with the random people at my dojo at that early of an age, for many of the reasons mentioned. The techniques in Aikido are potentially dangerous, especially on a child's structure, and a child does not have the assertiveness to either productively practice with an adult, nor to assert themselves to an adult regarding their needs (go slower, lighter, tapping out etc.) I would trust my senseis or some of the senior students to train/'play' with my children in Aikido because of their keen awareness of respecting peoples limits, but I can't imagine dropping my child into a regular open class. No. Way.

At our dojo we have Very Young Person's class, which is parent participation and it is mostly focused on tumbling, games, stretches, and Aikido-related exercises. And a young person's class, where the kids work with each other.. then there is a teen class, but teens can join open classes as well. To me that is pretty much the only safe/sane way to do it, or if in an open class out of necessity due to small enrollment the child is strictly partnered with select people who agree to work with the child, the parent, sensei, or some senior students who the child can get to know and feel "safe" with.
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Old 08-27-2006, 08:00 AM   #18
aikidoc
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Re: Children and adults together

We only allow adults to practice in the kids class with their parents. One youth who is old enough and talented is allowed in the adult class periodically.
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Old 08-27-2006, 03:35 PM   #19
Mark Uttech
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Re: Children and adults together

An aikido dojo is a miniature society. Abuse and the instance of pedophiles is something to be aware of. Anyone running a children's class should be very vigilant (watchful), I do not feel that this can be overstressed.

In gassho
Mark
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Old 08-28-2006, 01:07 PM   #20
wmreed
 
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Re: Children and adults together

In my opinion, the children will learn best in a children's class, and the dojo should start one if it's able.

However, I think that adults feeling frustrated by working with children is a poor excuse to wish they wouldn't come to class. I agree with Paige's comments, and she has a unique perspective that she can share, having been one of those children.

In addition, I would suggest that it's important to learn to throw them comfortably and apply technique to them in a manner that is controlling and yet not injurious (is that a word?). One way to think about it may be to say to yourself: "What if my child/nephew/niece/neighbor's kid loses their temper with me for some unexpected reason and tries to attack me? Shouldn't I be able to apply aikido technique and movement to control this situation safely for both of us? And shouldn't I be able to also throw the 300 lb. guy that I'll practice the next technique with?"

I am prejudiced.

I am an elementary school teacher, a children's aikido teacher, and a parent. And I can honestly say that my aikido improved DRAMATICALLY through my training with children. If you can do shihonage on someone who barely comes to your hip, you can execute it on almost anyone.

I reiterate, I believe children should have their own class. It's better for them. But I don't think it is detrimental to an adult's practice to have to train with a child, any more than it would be to have to practice with someone who uses crutches on the mat, or is deaf, or is a woman, etc, etc. I don't think that my lack of understanding on how to adapt my technique to a different attacker is sufficient reason to want them to not be in my class.

I know this is getting long-winded, but another example would be to say that someone who is much bigger than I, and therefore hard for me to practice with, should have their own class.

I'll stop now.


Bill

William M. Reed
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Old 08-28-2006, 01:55 PM   #21
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Children and adults together

One instance where children mixing in an adult class interfered in a major way in a dojo where I once trained:

We had an instructor from the main school of the organization who came to teach one night a week. It was common knowledge that Thursday nights under this instructor were difficult for the adults in the class. One of these nights, two brothers from the children's class came to train. These were teenagers who were significantly smaller than the majority of the adults. So the instructor paired them together to train (something that would not be a problem for adults).

Unfortunately, during the class, one brother hurt the other, and the injured brother began crying. End result...there was some heated discussion about how much watering down of hard training should be done, vs whether these children should have been permitted in that class to begin with (this discussion did not take place at the time, but later, without the children involved). This argument had a long lasting impact on the school, and some of those ramifications still exist in some interesting ways today.

My own personal belief is that those children should not have been allowed to train in that particular class, *especially* since they were not only immature, but were brothers as well, and the competitive nature of the relationship quickly got out of hand. While you could say that the instructor is always responsible, and that he should have stepped in and stopped the situation before it got out of hand, having seen mixed classes myself as an assistant instructor leading a class, I know that is easier said than done. In a class where such a mixed environment is a specific purpose, it is easy to moderate the teaching to accommodate that. It's not so easy in what was to that point, one of the most advanced classes in the dojo.

Aikido is still a martial art...people will get injured occasionally. Taking a child in our society (very different from the society where aikido developed) and putting them into that situation doesn't seem correct to me. There are children's classes in most places...let them train in that environment until they are truly ready to move on. Both emotionally and physically.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-28-2006, 05:17 PM   #22
Zach Sarver
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Re: Children and adults together

When children first started training with us, I was a bit annoyed by it. They were too small to really practice fully with, but as time went on and a few more started training I started having fun with the little kids. It was a chance to just play around and have fun and hopefully teach these yougins a little Aikido. This may be that I like little kids more then some. I don't think that you are being selfish. You can't really train hard with little kids.

~Zach
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Old 09-06-2006, 12:05 PM   #23
jonreading
 
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Re: Children and adults together

I preface my response with the observation that children (less than 18 years of age) can train in an adult class without interferring with the atmosphere of the dojo. I believe it is a rare occassion when I child younger than 18 can successfully integrate into an adult class, and I believe that it is virtually impossible for a child younger than 13 to successfully integrate into an adult class. The disparity in size and strength, mental comprehension, and nature of physical contact between adults and children all point to an inappropriate relationship during training, let alone the legal implications of allowing children to train with adults.

Children should not be included in adult training. Chirldren are not adults, the dictionary even has two separate words to identify each. Children don't grow like adults, they don't learn like adults, they don't think like adults, and they don't act like adults. So why would we treat children as adults?

If I taught karate and said to a parent, "your 12 year old son is going to sparr a 32 year old black belt." that parent would be appalled. But I teach aikido, so instead I say, "your 12 year old son is going to train with a 32 year old black belt." Somehow the semantics of the aikido sentence make everything OK. Forget the fact that I am letting an skilled adult martial artist train with a child. Training has danger, that's why we sign a waiver.

A dojo that wishes to entertain teaching children aikido is obligated to extend the same courtesys as they would to an adult. Don't put adults in children classes, and don't put children in adult classes. Devote the same time and effort to tailored class instruction, individual attention, and etiquette.
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Old 09-06-2006, 12:44 PM   #24
Mark Gibbons
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Re: Children and adults together

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
..... The disparity in size and strength, mental comprehension, and nature of physical contact between adults and children all point to an inappropriate relationship during training, let alone the legal implications of allowing children to train with adults.
.
What legal implications?

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
Children should not be included in adult training. Chirldren are not adults, the dictionary even has two separate words to identify each. Children don't grow like adults, they don't learn like adults, they don't think like adults, and they don't act like adults. So why would we treat children as adults?
Some have used roughly the same arguments to exclude women. Can everyone in the class be treated as aikido students? Seems possible to me. Different skill levels. Different learning styles. That seems like a normal all adult class to me. Kids that can't train in an adult class without disruption wouldn't fit in the adult classes where I train. But many are mature enough and with a couple years experience well trained enough to fit into an adult class.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
If I taught karate and said to a parent, "your 12 year old son is going to sparr a 32 year old black belt." that parent would be appalled. But I teach aikido, so instead I say, "your 12 year old son is going to train with a 32 year old black belt." Somehow the semantics of the aikido sentence make everything OK. Forget the fact that I am letting an skilled adult martial artist train with a child. Training has danger, that's why we sign a waiver.

A dojo that wishes to entertain teaching children aikido is obligated to extend the same courtesys as they would to an adult. Don't put adults in children classes, and don't put children in adult classes. Devote the same time and effort to tailored class instruction, individual attention, and etiquette.
I'd much rather my 11 year old daughter trained with a black belt than with a non black belt. The black belts are the safest folks to train with. The comparison to sparring in karate seems far fetched..

I don't really see the reasons behind the rest of your objections. Is it just that it's a waste of time to train with someone that is too unskilled? I have known a fair number of 14-17 year olds that could have the same opinion about beginning->mid kyu adults. Is it the danger due to size differences? Many of the adult women where I train are the same size as the kids over 11 yo.

Mark
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Old 09-06-2006, 01:11 PM   #25
Trish Greene
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Re: Children and adults together

We have adult classes and mix-aged classes at our dojo. I typically go to the mixed age class because my 12yo son works out with me and its easier on the gas mileage to train with him them to make the trip down the road 5 times a week to make sure he trains with his "age appropriates" and I train with my "Age appropriates".

When I am training, being the only adult female, I usually work with the younger kids ( Ages 8yo through 15 in our dojo) until they have the movement down. Then I send them over to work out with an adult. My reasoning behind having them try the moves on adults is that the kids are more likely going to need to use their skills to get out of a potentially dangerous situation where their attacker is larger then them. The adult - ukes know that this is what I am doing and they blend with their nage appropriately.

I do have to agree that 5yo -10yo should not be training with adults. The maturity level to sit down, be quiet, concentrate and learn the move is just not there.
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