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Old 09-23-2008, 11:40 AM   #1
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

A few years ago, I was in New York, and I was watching an instructor teaching a Karate class for kids. I know that this man is an excellent guy as well as a very good instructor, so I was at first a bit puzzled by what I saw. He was standing in front of the class with his hands behind his back, shouting instructions and corrections but never getting near the kids. Then I understood why he did that: fear of being sued by some hysteric parent for "touching" their kid. Wow. I often taught kid's and beginner's classes, and it seemed impossible to me to avoid physical contact, especially with the newbies. I would touch the hand that was a to execute the next block, I would grab a kicking foot to show that the toes were pointing to the wrong direction, I would gently press the head of a kid as he/she was moving to show that they needed to keep their knees bent. Where I live, we do not yet have this hysteria of suing people for event getting near our child. I took dance classes for two years before I found my way in the martial arts, and it seemed natural for the teacher to gently guide clumsy little beginner limbs through a new exercise, and the parents watching the class would think that a teacher never getting near a student to correct them was not doing a good job. In fact, as
I observed these New York kids perform their kata, it seemed to me
that there was room for improvement, even for those wearing advanced belts (on another hand, they were ferocious fighters).
So I am wondering: how, then, does an instructor teach Aikido?
What happens to the law of unity under the eyes of some worried parents? In my school, we do not have many children, and, since I am the shortest adult, Sensei sometimes pairs me up with his ten year old daughter, when no other child is available. If we were in another country, how would the other parents react to my telling her that her technique failed because she stepped to far from me?
How does a male student deal with being paired with a woman, for how can one perfect a technique without trying it on someone bigger and stronger? How do you guys deal with that?
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Old 09-23-2008, 05:09 PM   #2
Buck
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

I am not in favor of teaching kids Aikido or other martial arts. It is a big risk, there are lots of complications, and is there a real need for it. We know of several high profile Aikido instructors who have crossed that line with kids/minors. What about the instructors (of any martial art or what ever) who aren't caught. I think parents should be hyper-vigilant.

The challenge is too great for the honest instructor when teaching kids. Beside what I just said there are a host of all other problems that can be faced by the instructor. It isn't for me.

Teach with one of those 10 ft poles that you can operate at one end a plastic hand that grips located at the far end of the pole. Just kidding of course, a bull whip is more effective.
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Old 09-24-2008, 07:05 AM   #3
Eva Antonia
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Dear Marie-Noelle,

according to my experience - I have four kids doing aikido, during the school time in Belgium, and in the summer holidays in Turkey, where their father comes from -, teachers approach kid students pretty the same way as they do it with adults, apart of the kids being more playful and kidding around. Our Belgian teachers are 82 and 70 years old respectively, the Turkish one is only 26 years old, but their approach to children ist very much the same. They teach them, they coach them, from time to time they give them a scolding, and from time to time a big hug. I'd never, never think that one of them would be pedophile (and I think I would know because I had a very disgusting, pedophile flute teacher when I was a kid).

I cannot very well imagine that it could be otherwise; the adult teacher has a child uke when teaching child classes, so how should he proceed for not touching him when doing things like just a simple ikkyo?

And I'm sorry - I don't see any challenge for honest instructors. I am convinced that the great majority of aikidoka does not have any pedophile tendency, so when having body contact with a kid during a technique where should be the challenge?

We have here even one week aikido camps only for children - my big boy goes there since the age of eight, and it's as innocent as it can (and should!) be. Here in Belgium we also had horrible cases of child abuse, and Belgians are certainly among Europeans one of the most aware people, but if pedophilia awareness goes so far that kids may not be touched anymore and are therefore excluded from a lot pleasant activities, then I get the impression that the kids are punished for the sins of the adults.

As for aikido, in many classes there are also parents present, and as far as I know, many teacher welcome the presence of parents as a sort of deputy teacher (does not work for your own kids).

So I'd continue to train with kids as with other people, and let lawyers worry about real pedophilia, not about imagined cases.

Best regards,

Eva
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Old 09-24-2008, 07:18 AM   #4
tobiasfelipe
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Quote:
Marie Noelle Fequiere wrote: View Post
How do you guys deal with that?
Cameras, recording every class. Not just kids classes, not just women classes, EVERY class.

>my dojo: http://www.aizen.org
>my sensei: (2nd in the list, Sensei Santos)
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." -Beckett
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Old 09-24-2008, 07:27 AM   #5
tobiasfelipe
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

The "teaching kids" tips on aikiwiki are good too (http://www.aikiweb.com/wiki/Generalt...eaching_Minors):
-Always More than one adult with a minor
-Separate dressing facilities for teachers where possible
-Safety Rules

I would add:
- Get away from USA where they sue you for every little thing
- I said cameras? I will say again, lots of cameras!

>my dojo: http://www.aizen.org
>my sensei: (2nd in the list, Sensei Santos)
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." -Beckett
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:34 PM   #6
DCP
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

I've been an educator for quite a while. In that capacity, I made it a rule not to touch a student except when I was coaching. In the area of coaching, it was often necessary to physically guide students to certain areas of the court and move athletes' hands to help position them for appropriate ball handling. A genuine pat on the back is also an incredible motivator!

In aikido, an instructor is very much a coach. It would be a disservice to the students not to make appropriate contact with them. In the information given to parents, make it clear that there will be appropriate physical contact. Also, make it very clear that parents are always welcome to view sessions (as a matter of fact, it might be good to make it mandatory so that the dojo doesn't become a daycare!).

Or I'm completely wrong

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
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Old 09-25-2008, 11:54 AM   #7
Faith Hansen
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Uh, wow. We have a pretty high level of contact with our kids during kids class. We hug them all at the end of every class. Head pat, back pats, placing of limps in correct positions, picking up a kid to haul them to the naughty mat.....It all works very, very well for us.
We also always have a mix of instructors teaching the class, with almost every class including a male and female instructor. The parents sit on the sidelines and watch the classes, we have other arts sometimes on the other mat. There is always a ton of people at the dojo. There are never kids alone with any one single instructor in the dojo.

Faeth
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Old 10-08-2008, 12:04 AM   #8
Shane Marcum
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Unfortunately, there will always be the possibility of being sued by some litigious individual looking for an easy dollar. However, I can't see the liability relating to inappropriate behavior or conduct being any greater than that relating to the possibility of someone getting injured. I know that everyone typically signs a waiver, but wait until someone challenges your waiver once with causes of action for negligence or fraudulent inducement.

Also, I learned early in my career that in litigation the best defense is always a good offense. Too many defense lawyers look for the easy way out when answering lawsuits and fail to assert potential counterclaims that can chill an over-zealous plaintiff in their tracks. Plaintiffs tend to look at things in a different light when they suddenly become a counter-defendant in a civil action. All too often plaintiffs feel like they have nothing to lose by filing suit, especially if their counsel is working on a contingency basis. By filing aggressive counter-claims, a would-be defendant (victim) of frivolous litigation can significantly change a plaintiff's care free point of view.

The moral of the story is......NEVER take a baseless lawsuit lying down! You'll be suppressed just how many can, and will, resolve themselves.
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Old 10-08-2008, 02:28 PM   #9
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Quote:
Marie Noelle Fequiere wrote: View Post
If we were in another country, how would the other parents react to my telling her that her technique failed because she stepped to far from me?
How does a male student deal with being paired with a woman, for how can one perfect a technique without trying it on someone bigger and stronger? How do you guys deal with that?
Good post. I can see why you would have such a reaction to watching this mans class. It makes me think, boy I'm glad I practice a creative art like aikido.

These bottom questions don't particularly seem like lawsuit questions to me, but they are definitely good questions to consider.

Here are my thoughts in parts:

1) - A suggestion to en-culturate parents to the aikido paradigm would be to have them(require them?) watch an adult aikido class so they could see that the curriculum you are teaching to young people is the curriculum taught to adults. It is simply what you teach. If they are not comfortable with the discipline there are others to choose from.

-A male student, or a female student, needs to learn to blend with whomever is standing in front of them. That is my definition of 'perfect' technique.

2)What if we switched the questions around and became 'uke-centric'?

What if, you as nage, had a child was falling away from you in their ukemi while you were applying nikkyo, kotegaeshi, shihonage. That could cause injury and would be very dangerous to them. Could you tell them to stay closer or perhaps, phrase it, stay connected? That would be a good reasoning for closeness as safety.

What if you are training with some person who only knows how to crank on a technique like you were 280lbs(real big)? How would you blend as uke to stay connected so s/he didn't hurt you and you could continue to practice without gross injury?

I hope these questions may be helpful in some way. They are food for thought anyway .

Jen

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 10-08-2008 at 02:37 PM.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 10-08-2008, 05:12 PM   #10
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

I think as stated above there are some simple rules to follow.

Here are the guidelines that the Boy Scouts of America use. I think a modified version of them is appropriate for any child activity. I know that I follow them in any interaction that I have with children other than my own.

You can't be 100 percent suit proof unless you simply don't train kids.

Two-deep leadership. Two registered adult leaders or one registered leader and a parent of a participant, or other adult, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required on all trips and outings. The chartered organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all activities.

No one-on-one contact. One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is not permitted. In situations that require personal conferences, such as a Scoutmaster's conference, the meeting is to be conducted in view of other adults and youths.

Respect of privacy. Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth members in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp, and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.

Separate accommodations. When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian. Councils are strongly encouraged to have separate shower and latrine facilities for females. When separate facilities are not available, separate times for male and female use should be scheduled and posted for showers.

Proper preparation for high-adventure activities. Activities with elements of risk should never be undertaken without proper preparation, equipment, clothing, supervision, and safety measures.

No secret organizations. The Boy Scouts of America does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.

Appropriate attire. Proper clothing for activities is required. For example, skinny-dipping is not appropriate as part of Scouting.

Constructive discipline. Discipline used in Scouting should be constructive and reflect Scouting's values. Corporal punishment is never permitted.

Hazing prohibited. Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity.

Junior leader training and supervision. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by junior leaders and ensure that BSA policies are followed.

Member responsibilities. All members of the Boy Scouts of America are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Law. Physical violence, hazing, bullying, theft, verbal insults, drugs, and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout's membership in the unit.

Unit responsibilities. The head of the chartered organization or chartered organization representative and the local council must approve the registration of the unit's adult leader. Adult leaders of Scouting units are responsible for monitoring the behavior of youth members and interceding when necessary. Parents of youth members who misbehave should be informed and asked for assistance in dealing with it.

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Old 01-14-2009, 04:50 AM   #11
dalen7
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

1 question:
Where are the parents?
They just drop them off and thats it?

Here the parents come, sit on the benches and watch.
The kids train on one part of the mat while the adults on the other part.

Sounds like parents need to get more involved in what they are letting their kids do.

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
maybe the parents should take Aikido.
Im teaching my kids as I learn and as they show interest.

dAlen [day•lynn]
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Old 01-14-2009, 08:42 AM   #12
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

I Don't ...... Although there are many martial art schools that do, I prefer not to teach kids because of the very things mentioned above that you can be sued for or accused of.....
It just isn't worth the hassle, therefore I only agree to teach adults.

I have offered to teach/coach aikido completely free of charge to local educational authorities/schools, but they required me to take out indemnity insurance that I would have to fork out for.....
Plus I would have to set it up and finance it and be a professional....?

So there you have it..... I agree and support that children and adolescents should be protected, but not wrapped up in cotton wool as the case is today.....

Political correctness gone mad and common sense? Well......

Take it from a redundant teacher it aint worth the trouble....
I have enjoyed aikido very much over the years and would love to pass on my experience and know how to a younger generation...... but no way if its going to cost me.... been there done that..... not going there any more!!

Modern Society brings all its ills and problems on itself, 'cause it creates them through ill thought out policies and litigation which strangles the would be well meaning coach/teacher of any discipline into a situation where it will be impossible to afford to do whatever they would like to teach and pass on.....

Once upon a time a local youth club would only be too pleased for someone to do this...... now its..... well do you have this that and the other? Before you can even think about starting an initiative.....

Tony
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:33 AM   #13
John Matsushima
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Quote:
Marie Noelle Fequiere wrote: View Post
A few years ago, I was in New York, and I was watching an instructor teaching a Karate class for kids. I know that this man is an excellent guy as well as a very good instructor, so I was at first a bit puzzled by what I saw. He was standing in front of the class with his hands behind his back, shouting instructions and corrections but never getting near the kids. Then I understood why he did that: fear of being sued by some hysteric parent for "touching" their kid. Wow.
What makes you think that's why he did that?

-John Matsushima

My blog on Japanese culture
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:00 AM   #14
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Quote:
Dalen Johnson wrote: View Post
1 question:
Where are the parents?
They just drop them off and thats it?

Here the parents come, sit on the benches and watch.
The kids train on one part of the mat while the adults on the other part.

Sounds like parents need to get more involved in what they are letting their kids do.

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
maybe the parents should take Aikido.
Im teaching my kids as I learn and as they show interest.
Believe it or not, Dalen, some parents will only step in the dojo to seek informations and enroll the child. After that, you do not see them anymore. They drop the child in front of the school, watch him walk in and drive off. The child learns to stay around the door after the class so he can hear the horn of his parent's car. He is to then just step in the car, and off he goes. Often the adult does not even check that the kid did not forget anything. Upon arriving home, they will have a fit when they discover that the kid forgot to take his uniform, or the clothes he was wearing when he was dropped off, or even his shoes. Some kids train for years at a dojo without any adult inside the dojo being able to remember what his parents look like. You just learn to recognize the car. And it's even worst when the parents are so busy that the kid is in the care of a chauffeur.
Well, the good news is, those parents are precisely the harmless ones. The dangerous ones are those who sit nervously to watch the class, trying to find any reason to complain about the instructor. Those are people who either have psychological problems, or need money. They are the ones to watch for.
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:07 AM   #15
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Quote:
John Matsushima wrote: View Post
What makes you think that's why he did that?
Because he and my instructor are friends, and they had been talking about that. This instructor came to Haiti a few years later to teach a seminar. At one point, he wanted to give a correction to an adult female student, something about her posture. He walked to her and said: "Look, I'm just going to touch you right here, so you can see something." The woman could not believe that such an innocent gesture necessitated so much preparation and apology.

Last edited by Marie Noelle Fequiere : 01-14-2009 at 10:08 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:20 AM   #16
dalen7
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Quote:
Marie Noelle Fequiere wrote: View Post
The dangerous ones are those who sit nervously to watch the class, trying to find any reason to complain about the instructor. Those are people who either have psychological problems, or need money. They are the ones to watch for.
I would disagree - but then again, what do I know of the motives behind other people...you may be right - to what percentage? I dont know.

Personally, from my perspective, it shows an interest in your kid to be there with them.

People think they are doing things for the kids, when all they want is to have the parent around.

I have a few kids myself, and take a deep interest in what they do.
Think of it as self interest I suppose, after all - they have half my Genetics/DNA in them.

Now I dont see how the ones sitting watching would be the problem...they can see what does and doesnt happen.
(But again, America is a state that loves to litigate...and from the sounds of it the U.K. - so logic doesnt have to dictate here I suppose)

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
What is interesting to me is this.
If a person chooses a career, why get married and have kids?
Might as well stay single as most people see their jobs more than the family. Dont see a reason, as there is no connection and someone else ends up raising your kids.

The knowledge you have in life is not carried down...well, maybe the egoic aspect that leaches onto each of us when we are born.
As Eckhart Tolle says, Im sure one day we will find the ego in dna.

Have a video on my blog about genetics, "The ghost in my genes", which gives some good insight into this...and how we do affect our kids more than we know - even before they are born. (From emotions to physical attributes.)

Saying all that to say this:
That which most people think is important...getting by in life - just to die - isnt that important. (Sorry if its not worded right, look past the words and you will get there.)

That which is important is our own evolution, and passing that on to our offspring. Not allowing a conditioning solely based on ones cultural milue. (This is the worst, as its very narrow minded/limited, and the cause of the suffering currently going on in the world.)

Anyway...

Last edited by dalen7 : 01-14-2009 at 11:24 AM.

dAlen [day•lynn]
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Old 01-14-2009, 02:29 PM   #17
Russ Q
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Hi, we do teach a kids class in our dojo. We pretty much have a 4 - 7 yr old group (it's a lot like herding cats). We focus on moving our bodies, rolling and incorporating the principles of irimi and tenkan into games. I often touch students to help them do front and back rolls. I really don't see it as a big deal and, as someone mentioned, to not do it is a disservice to the students. Nine classes out of ten there is another instructor on the mat during class and 100% of the time, thus far, there has been at least one parent observing.

Cheers,

Russ
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Old 01-20-2009, 09:38 AM   #18
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

I have been teaching children Aikido for over a decade now and "hands on" is my approach. Whether it is to guide a youngen in the proper way to step, fall, proper grip, and even a bop on the back of the head when they get out of line. I even teach yougens at a few local middle schools and while these older youngens don't much care for the discipline aspect of the training there are a surprising number that embrace it.

To all those parents. I have had parents come in and complete paperwork and just walk out leaving their child. How can a parent be that uninvolved in their child's life? It wasn't long that I told parents they are required to sit in on a class from time to time, and yes I do follow up on that. This way they understand how practice is run and they know why little johnny was bopped or why his wrist hurts etc. It also cuts down on the "daycare" issue mentioned previously.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:22 AM   #19
Stefan Hultberg
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

Hi everybody

Personally I'm not so sure that parents being there during the class is such a good idea. I find that the children get distracted by their parents, always seeking eye contact with the parents to check if they are doing things right - and parents trying to give hints to the kids - "no no no, it's supposed to be the right hand". In short - the parents distract the kids, sometimes just their own little centre of the world, but sometimes distracting whole groups of kids. Yes, I tell the parents to shut up and the kids to kindly concentrate on listening to the instructor, but there's still a lot of eye-contact-communication, using the eyes for example to help their little gold-nugget to get it right.

Another problem is that the sprogs often show off a lot more when the parents are there, trying to gain attention from the parents by acting out to a higher degree than when the parent isn't there.

And finally - my main irritation with parent's being there - a kid hurts himself a little and 2 seconds later he's fine and ready to carry on, BUT - if the parent is there he'll make a much larger scene, crying and howling like a pack of wolfes in order to get sympathy from the parent. The parent, of course, rushes onto the mat in order to fuss over the kid for 15 hours while the whole class gets involved in the darama.

Parents may be a good thing in general, but in the dojo - parents sometimes are the devil!!

All the best

Stefan Hultberg
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Old 02-13-2009, 02:29 PM   #20
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

I agree with Stefan, that parents can make the class more difficult. I have found that if you set ground rules early on you can avoid those situations.

For the interferring parent that wants to help, I simply explain to the parent that if they would like to remove their shoes they can train with their child. (I have a few that do this.) But should they decide to do this I let them know up front that there is only one instructor and they are not it.

I haven't encounted the showing off so much. But I find a good swat on the back of the head grounds a child, or an adult, quickly..

Oh yes, the medic parent. A child gets hurt and they run onto the mat. lol Well, there is a time for that but as a rule I agree the child is generally in need of nothing more than a cursory glance and a "Ok, get back to practice." statement.

Generally speaking of course.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:03 PM   #21
Phil Parsons
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Re: Teaching in the times of lawsuit.

At my dojo, there has been a children's class since my sensei first started it 12 years ago, and to my knowledge, he has never had a problem with parents getting hysterical over anything. The most important thing is to get the parents involved. Some of the adult students also have kids in the children's class, and they come to those classes too to help instruct. There are also always parents off to the side watching, and they no not to interfere with the class if they aren't on the mats training.

Having a children's class is a great thing for a dojo, because it not only brings children who stick with the program up into the adult's class as they grow up, but it also gets some parents into the adult's class as well, and gives the adult students an opportunity to teach. Aikido and other martial arts are also a great thing for kids to get involved in, and is a wonderful thing to offer to the community.
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