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Old 06-09-2002, 02:49 PM   #1
Adam_Aikidoka
Dojo: Phoenix Aikido Club
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Children In Aikido

I am interested in the points of view of the AikiWeb posters, on the subject of children in Aikido.

I have found that some people are very much opposed to children in Aikido, and believe that they cannot achieve the same level of technicial and spiritual skill/technique as an adult Aikidoka.

In my club there are over 300 junior members (below the age of 16) and they are treated on the whole with the same respect as adults on and off the mat. Yet, there are some who share the view expressed above, but would not openly voice this opinion, because my Sensei believes greatly in Aikido for children and is very proud of all his junior members as well as senior members.

Is this view shared by any posters? Any 2 cents would be welcomed.

Adam
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Old 06-09-2002, 06:54 PM   #2
guest1234
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300!!! Whoa, that is amazing...

Personally, I really like having kids' classes in the dojo (not everyplace I've trained does that, but the places that didn't it was due to logistics)---their enthusiasm and joy can clear my darkest moods.

Younger children may not grasp complicated philosophy (but they can fool you), but then, a lot of adults don't either. One dojo I've been in used me as an assistant in the kids' class (I think the male instructors mostly wanted a motherly type to chaperone all the pre-teen girls, and help them focus on technique rather than the male instructors ). I was impressed with the change in self-confidence after a few weeks of class, especially in the girls--- definately think it is a great art for children and teens (and adults... )
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Old 06-09-2002, 07:02 PM   #3
batemanb
 
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In our renmei, the children are very important. We have over 50 junior members, most between the ages of 5 and 10. It was explained to me when I joined that martial arts practice in general is on the decline in Japan, i.e. the younger generation (teens - 20`s) are not that interested in them. In order to protect the future, it was important to start when they are young. All of our dojo`s have kids classes, and there is no shortage of sempai helping them out, often, there will be at least one sempai per 2 kids.

Of course the technical and spiritual techniques of the children are not going to be the same as adults, not at the start, but maybe in 5 or 10 years time they will be. Having said that, I am constantly amazed at the abilities of some of the little ones, and it is fantastic to see 4 year olds doing over arm ukemi from kotegaeshi (much softer of course) with Sensei during embutaikai`s.

At the All Japan embu a couple of weeks back, there was a great embu, where a little one who couldn`t have been more than 2 or 3 years old, was tori doing kokyunage`s to (presumably) dad as uke.

Personally, I agree with the renmei thinking, the kids are important for the future. My dojo back home in the UK doesn`t have a kids class, but I hope that when I return, it will be something that I can help with.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 06-09-2002, 07:59 PM   #4
PeterR
 
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Not to mention the total cuteness of a little four year old girl doing unsoku.

Ichi ni san .....

Kids classes are great but of course you must make adjustments in the training and the demands.

Good luck in finding someone who condemms teaching Aikido to children.

Personally I am not interested in teaching them myself for a number of reasons but if you are so inclined - more power to you.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-09-2002, 10:42 PM   #5
Chocolateuke
Dojo: Muhu Dojo
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Unhappy

Quote:
Originally posted by batemanb
In our renmei, the children are very important. We have over 50 junior members, most between the ages of 5 and 10. It was explained to me when I joined that martial arts practice in general is on the decline in Japan, i.e. the younger generation (teens - 20`s) are not that interested in them. In order to protect the future, it was important to start when they are young. All of our dojo`s have kids classes, and there is no shortage of sempai helping them out, often, there will be at least one sempai per 2 kids.

Of course the technical and spiritual techniques of the children are not going to be the same as adults, not at the start, but maybe in 5 or 10 years time they will be. Having said that, I am constantly amazed at the abilities of some of the little ones, and it is fantastic to see 4 year olds doing over arm ukemi from kotegaeshi (much softer of course) with Sensei during embutaikai`s.

At the All Japan embu a couple of weeks back, there was a great embu, where a little one who couldn`t have been more than 2 or 3 years old, was tori doing kokyunage`s to (presumably) dad as uke.

Personally, I agree with the renmei thinking, the kids are important for the future. My dojo back home in the UK doesn`t have a kids class, but I hope that when I return, it will be something that I can help with.
TWO sempi per child?? all the people my age went off to get jobs ( im still at school) and stoped Aikido. the only sempi above tthe age of 15 is me. Im kinda like an asstiant instructer. for sensei and I its almost overwhelming with the youngsters ( the new arivals are VERY childish ) training? no such word for some of the kids. Not to say we dont have any kids who train in fact we have great kids at the dojo as well as the goof balls that you cant get them into stance without a questionof why. Its good training for me tho it helps with my patience and the "Good" students are a plesure to trian with. I go to adults class for technical stuff to I sorta teach teh kids class... no thats not right assist the kids class.

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 06-10-2002, 01:37 AM   #6
DavidM
Dojo: Aikido of Tucson
Location: Arizona
Join Date: May 2002
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Wink

I once was reading an interview with O Sensei one time about this subject.

He said children of all ages should take Aikido. The only difference in the childrens classes would be that their bodies are not fully developed yet, so when doin' pins and wrist exercises you have to be careful, if it's done at all. But the learning to roll part would be easy for a child to learn because they don't have to spend all that time unlearning everything.

I have a 1 year old daughter of my own. When she gets old enough to pay attention...I'd love for her to train in Aikido...even if it's just learning to roll...ya never know, one day it could save her life...
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Old 06-10-2002, 04:36 AM   #7
nikonl
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my dojo has about 500-600 children and they are doing just fine...sometimes they are really amazing watching them train and feel ashamed of myself
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Old 06-10-2002, 06:52 AM   #8
Ghost Fox
Dojo: Jikishinkan Dojo
Location: New York City (Brooklyn)
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Quote:
Originally posted by PeterR
Good luck in finding someone who condemms teaching Aikido to children.
Personally I think young children (4-9) in general would be better served by another art other than aikido. Children at such a young age tend to respond/learn more from a striking arts such as karate-do, tae-kwon-do and capoeira.

I'm especially a strong supporter of capoeira. I went to the park one day just to relax and I saw some guys gathering around a radio playing Brazilian music with a strong drum beat. They slowly began to Jinga, and perform some of their handstand kicks and aerial moves that the art is famed for. Within five minutes every young child in the park was gathered around them. They were attracted to the music, the cartwheels, and joyful nature of the art. The guys not in the middle of the circle began teaching the kids and they picked it up amazingly fast. For the kids it was just playing, it was natural. They where just doing cartwheels, handstands and dancing. I couldn't believe the smiles on everyone's faces, another attribute I notice of people who practice capoeira.

I've seen a few kids programs for aikido, I even help cover a class or two (a very good form of birth control if you ask Me.), but I never saw young children pick up the movements very well. The moves are so subtle in aikido that children seem to have a hard time grasping the concepts. Also, aikido is not very physically active martial art. I find the kids tend to get kind of bored.

Karate programs for kids are a lot more physically active and teach a strong sense of discipline. In most aikido kid program the instructors seem to be doing more crowd control. Children tend to pick up kicks and punches easier then throws. Striking arts tend to be very linear and the theory behind the art is very simplistic compared to aikido.

If I have kids in the distant future, I can see sending them to a capoeira school when they're younger. The only thing I will teach them as a child is how to roll, take a breakfall, and ukemi. As they get older, then I'll introduce them into aikido.

IMHO.

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Old 06-10-2002, 09:38 AM   #9
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
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Children and Aikido

Our modern lives have made it very difficult for children to have the time, and patience for Aikido.

That is to say, the children who have the parents with time and means to enroll their children in Aikido classes usually drop them by the time they reach High School age, why?

The status and social rigors of adding notches to your High School Resume', the instinctual patterns of teens to resist doing what their parents do, and the struggling through bodychanges as the teen turns to adult ... never mind the preteens mimicing their older counterparts as 8-12 year olds try to grow up too quickly.

On a positive note, our LBI kids program has an instructor who is professionally a child psychologist, so it is emminently beneficial to both the program, and our Aikido kids who get a variety of fun practice drills as they try to understand the basic tenents of Aikido.
Many times adults will arrive early for the adult class and volunteer to be pinned or thrown by our younger practitioners.

I think, if you look back into your own childhood, you will observe the false faces displayed to the ruling adult community in an effort to maintain your own small underground society, so even if you were not part of a rebel cause you surely knew people who were and put on a false face for those in charge. In itself, it is not the cause of children being bored with aikido, but if we were to remember the lust for life we had in those early years to see the fantastic, the great strength of champions, and fantastic solutions to simple problems ... then you must admit that until you have been to the big city, or seen things from around the world Aikido is not the most glamorous of Martial Arts?

But on the other hand, once you have been to the big city, seen things from around the world, Aikido is an amazingly compact system of harmony for the body and spirit that does not comprimise your religious or social beliefs, it enhances them.

Taken in context, Children should be allowed to practice aikido on their own terms when children, go out and explore the world, then when they are grown and ready to come back to Aikido, they will embrace it without reserve or hesitation as an important piece to life and self defense in MA's.

It is very rare for a child to continue from childhood to adulthood in Aikido without an exploratory break, such as college, moving out on their own, or even marriage with children to cause a break ... nature of our society and survival of our social domains.

There are many social factors that effect the enrollment of children in Aikido, but basically it has to do with the parents income and understanding of what Aikido is, and what their own beliefs tell them to impart to their children.

More and more, I see the children under Ten years old category increasing in enrollment as the years go by, but the children twelve and up, including college students as a boundary to close the bracket, being a declining number in the sense that their training and membership may only be added up to two years in the next twelve years of life/ or educational pursuits? Sex, drugs, music? Maybe so, the base instincts of reproduction are stronger than some of us admit, and more uncontrolable in the younger wild years of our lives.

So, although children are physically drawn to the simplicity of Aikido in their younger years, the mastering of emotional balance escapes them for many years, as it should in the great scheme of things. But if they are allowed to pursue other interests, and they continue with even sporatic training in Aikido, they will return to its down to earth simplicity to understand its complexity to adapt in harmony to all other systems of MA's.

Let them be children, let them train with adults when they ask to, but they are children and must be met as such with their own limit of attention and understanding.

Some adults still have trouble comprehending the connection of inner being to physical demonstration of technique, so how do you explain things adults don't seem to understand?

I say, let them be children. Enjoy them while they are so cute, and polite ... later when they get surly pin them to the ground and have a long quiet talk ...

Dat's why us old folk need to keep practicing so we keep dem kid's polite.
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Old 06-10-2002, 12:19 PM   #10
Adam_Aikidoka
Dojo: Phoenix Aikido Club
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Thank you all for your input. I will keep this next question in this thread if that is allowed. Do you believe that children have to ability to gain Shodan? And what age do you think that they would be able to gain that rank? And if there are any young black belts in your clubs, what age were they when they were awarded their belts?

Thanks all
Adam
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Old 06-10-2002, 06:40 PM   #11
Chocolateuke
Dojo: Muhu Dojo
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Ki Symbol

Well, Im 17 going for shodan in 3 months so.. i dont know yet!

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 06-10-2002, 06:42 PM   #12
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ghost Fox

I've seen a few kids programs for aikido, I even help cover a class or two (a very good form of birth control if you ask Me.), but I never saw young children pick up the movements very well. The moves are so subtle in aikido that children seem to have a hard time grasping the concepts. Also, aikido is not very physically active martial art. I find the kids tend to get kind of bored.
Probably because they are teaching children like adults - they are a different species.

Childrens Aikido class here looks alot like Childrens Judo class - with a bit of allowance made for the intensity of joint techniques they do everything the adults do. The classes aren't as intense either.

Speaking of joints - you average karate class makes me worry about the kids joints far more than the Aikido classes I observe.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-10-2002, 06:56 PM   #13
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Adam_Aikidoka
Thank you all for your input. I will keep this next question in this thread if that is allowed. Do you believe that children have to ability to gain Shodan? And what age do you think that they would be able to gain that rank? And if there are any young black belts in your clubs, what age were they when they were awarded their belts?
We have them - a very exceptionally a student Nidan but you know at 17 when they join the adults class they revert to white and start from the beginning. Doesn't take them as long but still the distinction is clear.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-11-2002, 09:14 AM   #14
Adam_Aikidoka
Dojo: Phoenix Aikido Club
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Well it may interest some of you to know that I am 14 and am a Shodan. In my club, my Sensei slowly intergrates the junior members into adult classes when they get to my age and now I only attend adult classes, except for when I help my Sensei teach the children and Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Thanks everyone.
Adam.
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Old 06-14-2002, 03:19 AM   #15
Jim ashby
Dojo: Phoenix Coventry
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Hi Adam.
I certainly don't envy the work you do with the juniors, I've seen them and to keep them interested/focused is a real task, especially the younger ones. BTW everybody, Adam and I train at the same Dojo, he's just younger and fitter and slimmer than me......but then again, isn't everyone.
Have fun.

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 06-14-2002, 07:55 AM   #16
SeiserL
 
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We have a large children's program at the Tenshinkai Dojo. Sensei Phong loves the little ones. I think he likes teaching them alternatives to violence before they really know what it is.

Yes children are different from adults and we need to teach them differently. yes, their bodies are still forming and we need to be careful. Yes, their minds are still forming so we have to be very aware of our modeling for them. All this is true in any aspect of working with children.

I would suggest that teachers of children read up on some developmental psychology so they have a better idea on how to "enter, blend, and redirect" children appropirately and effectively.

Until again,

Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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