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Old 05-02-2006, 09:57 AM   #1
Steve Mullen
Dojo: White Rose (Sunderland)
Location: Washington
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Children in the Dojo

I have never trained in a dojo with children (the closest i have experienced is two 12yr old lads, and one session where a youth club came along) So i was wondering, what, if anything, do children bring to a dojo? or to aikido as a whole? what is it like to teach them?

From my very limited experience i think it makes you look at your own technique in more detail when you have to explain it to someone who maybe cant make the mental connections that an adult can (by which i mean work out for themselves what you have said) so you have to be bang on otherwise they just plain don't get it.

From a practical point of view i felt that it made me focus on control without causing too much pain, and how to make uki go where i want them to.

What do you all think??

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:36 AM   #2
Trish Greene
Dojo: Aikido-Kajukenbo Self Defense Center
Location: Boise
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Hi Steve

We have two nights a week at our dojo which is mixed adults and kids. Some of the kids are as young as 8 yo with a couple of 12 yo and a 15 yo thrown in. During these two nights, we have roughly 3 adults to 5 kids ratio. From a teaching standpoint, I like working with the kids and seeing them finally "Get it" when they understand a move. I usually partner with an adult until I get the move down then we turn and work with the kids. I like working with different skill sets because he helps me work on my control. I know with an adult, we can work a little harder on the blending and the movement, with the kids, we work a little harder on the techniques.

If one of the nights are veryb "kid heavy", Sensei will modify the training session to include more kid orientated learning exercises. Such as rolling contests and balancing exercises.
Sensei is very "in tune" to the complexity of the group that he is working with!
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:01 PM   #3
Austin Power
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Both dojos i attend have quite alot of children involved including my own daughter and soon my son.
To add a cliche the kids are the future without them there will soon be alot of old people moaning about the art dying off.
Technique wise, yes i agree you have to be more careful. For instance no wrist locks are taught to under 12s and personally i am alot more careful (as i am sure everyone else is) when acting as tori or uke with kids.
I agree with Trish it is very satisfying seeing when kids get the technique and in the case of my two then procede to try and use it on me as often as possible.

On the big plus side though working with kids really helps you in suwari waza
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:30 PM   #4
Qatana
 
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Re: Children in the Dojo

This is easier than re-writing...

http://budobabes.tribebeta.net/threa...2-9f5a02c0acf0

All I can add is the more I train with the kids, the more I miss them when they're not around!

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 05-03-2006, 12:59 AM   #5
Nick Simpson
Dojo: White Rose Aikido - Durham University
Location: Gateshead
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Ah, how I miss my little pyschopaths, under my wing they could have grown up to be the cockiest, most arrogant and vicious yudansha and all in their teens. The day they remembered how to stamp on someones head during a pin was a memory I'll treasure forever *sigh*

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 05-03-2006, 01:49 AM   #6
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Quote:
Paul Power wrote:
To add a cliche the kids are the future without them there will soon be alot of old people moaning about the art dying off.
It is not necessarily the kids in the dojo who will be responsible for the future of the art, though. The general consensus around here is that kids stay for a few years and can add to the income of the dojo, which sure is important for survival, but they do not stay when grown up. The few who do have for some reason never been impressive (one big exception, but I think he got into adult's training pretty quickly).

More than one person, especially women, have found that being good at teaching kids can be somewhat of a trap. The dojo depends on you for that part of the income, and you will never be released from it to teach normal classes.
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Old 05-03-2006, 02:36 AM   #7
Richard Langridge
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Re: Children in the Dojo

We train with kids once a week at our dojo, and whilst it's great fun, I find it really tough at times. I'm still a beginner, so I have trouble with techniques anyway, but kids are very often very uncompromising ukes. For example, they always manange to spin out of my shihonage, which is really baffling.
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:49 AM   #8
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
Location: Reading, UK
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Re: Children in the Dojo

It depends if the children are training or just running around wild

I find you have to be a lot more patient and encouraging when working with kids, but also a lot more defined about where the boundaries are - IE We are training ikkyo now, not pouting that we're not doing shihonage anymore...

It definitely sharpens up your skills as an instructor Whether it is good for a dojo or not I don't know. Some adults do not want to train with kids, so there can be conflict if kids are brought into the training environment. Also, if you are good with the kids you'll find yourself training with them more than with the adults, which does affect your own training.

Personally I would have children under 12 or 13 train in Judo, then let them try Aikido if they want to. It's difficult to teach younger kids Aikido when they can't be taught the wrist locks and a lot of the subtleties.

My 0.02

Ruth
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Old 05-03-2006, 07:41 PM   #9
emma.mason15
Dojo: Shima Arashi Dojo
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Re: Children in the Dojo

training with teh kids totally rocks .....
The mini-me (my daughter) started at five and has now been attending for a year ... she has asperger syndrome so she picks it up easily. she sees the patterns and "flow" of each technique and can preform a MEAN ikkyo.shes learning total selfcontrol (which with her condition is a blessing) shes learning to fall properly .... and shes whooping the 8 and 9 yo in the class.
me? ... I just like seeing the kids do something that isnt destructive ....
(and there is nothing cuter than a whoop of joy when theyve got you pinned and sensei is congratulating them!)

Dance your cares away .... worry for another day ... let the music play .... down in fraggle rock!

when bored ... do as I do. Poke a patient!
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Old 05-04-2006, 04:24 AM   #10
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
My 0.02

Ruth
Wow, that's nearly 4 US-cts, then. Expensive post

Dirk
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:59 AM   #11
Nick Simpson
Dojo: White Rose Aikido - Durham University
Location: Gateshead
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Quote:
I just like seeing the kids do something that isnt destructive ....
You sure your talking about aikido

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 05-04-2006, 09:37 AM   #12
Steve Mullen
Dojo: White Rose (Sunderland)
Location: Washington
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England
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Re: Children in the Dojo

oh joe and little avril (sheds a tear ) they could have been little aiki-gods

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 05-04-2006, 01:13 PM   #13
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Children bring a beginner's mind to the dojo
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Old 05-04-2006, 01:27 PM   #14
pezalinski
 
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Talking Re: Children in the Dojo

Kids classes can be an important aspect for the dojo -- they accomplish a number of things for the organization; what they do for the kids, varies from kid to kid.... but some of the children I have taught (since 1996) are practicing as adults, today. (I've been thrown around by them, so I know.)

I'd say the retention rate for kids is lower than it is as for adults. It's difficult to get them to commit through adolescence (everything changes), but if they stay, they're in for life. And some of them come back after high-school, though it may not be to your dojo. And often, the parents stay on even after the kids have moved on to other things. So it is a win-win, no matter how you look at it.

The hardest part of having kids classes is to give them enough challenges and goals to keep them progressing over the years, in spite of their limitations, instead of the "we only do these techniques in kids class, and the most they can test for is 6th kyu before they're 16..." Frankly, the little sponges can absorb anything you throw at them, faster than the adults, and often faster than you can come up with new ideas.

If they were in my kids program, say from age 9 to age 13, in four years they've acquired a better breakfall than most of the adult sankyu's, and stronger technique than most of the sankyu's (or nikkyu's). The only limits they have is in what we show them. I'm tempted to add a lot more weapons kata to my kids classes, just to give them better maai and increase the challenges. When they're old enough for the adult classes, we often test them for Sankyu, if they've been in the program long enough to merit it.

I've found that holding kids classes has the following benefits:
1) community presence -- if you have kids classes, more people are aware of your school than if you did NOT teach kids classes
2) community involvement, after school: you're taking kids off the streets and keeping them away from the evils of organized team sports
3) Dojo has to be clean and friendly and well maintained to hold a kids program, and keep it... Mom's like a neat, clean, well-lit environment that is safe. And that's good for everyone. While we all "knew" about the post in the middle of the dojo, when we got a kids program, we padded it properly.
4) Kids program involves more than just Sensei in the instruction -- it requires the involvement of all the members, and the dedication of at least a few -- and this strengthens the organization.
5) Teaching kids classes does not require a black belt -- Sankyu and above can do a credible job, with guidance -- all of the techniques that are safe for kids are in Sankyu list (though some of them need to be removed -- most wrist locks, for example).
6) As other's have mentioned, teaching kids classes often benefits the teacher more than it seems to benefit the kids.
7) ANY opportunity for a kid to interact with an adult in a safe controlled and friendly environment, getting and giving respect and attention from adults, one-on-one, is a good thing. It improves the self esteem of both parties, and their ai-ki-do, as well.

That's my $0.50.

Last edited by pezalinski : 05-04-2006 at 01:31 PM.


A little danger is a knowledge thing...

"Helping the planet make an impact on people, since 1985"
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Old 05-04-2006, 02:44 PM   #15
mriehle
 
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Mr. Zalinski:

I'll see your $0.50 and raise it.

I think one of the things about a kids program is that you need to have a clear, published curriculum. I don't know that this is inherent in the way kids learn as much as it is what parents expect. They get this from other, similar programs, so they expect it of you.

It does have the benefit of allowing you to document the progress of each child in the program in something approaching an objective manner. This allows the kids, themselves, to appreciate the progress they've made and helps to maintain their interest.

We solve the whole "how far can you go thing" by allowing them to earn a Junior Black Belt. It's a significant accomplishment, but it isn't an adult shodan and they don't wear the hakama. When they move into the adult classes (at around fourteen) the Junior Shodan is equivalent to an adult nikyu.

A few kids manage to earn a junior nidan which works out to an adult shokyu, sort of. I suppose we'd award a junior sandan to a kid who managed to earn it, but since the two junior nidans I know of are nearly fourteen I don't anticipate this being an issue anytime soon.

We modify some of the techniques to make them safer for kids and certain techniques are not introduced until the kids are at fourth kyu (out of ten kyu ranks) or higher. By that time they've developed a certain amount of self control and in any case they're older.

As for the Evils of Organized Team Sports...

...I'm afraid a lot of them succumb anyway. My biggest competition is softball to which I regularly lose students.

But I'm not admitting defeat!

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Old 05-04-2006, 03:02 PM   #16
Lucy Smith
Dojo: Samurai Dojo
Location: Montevideo
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Children are not always beginners. You all spoke about children being newer than you. I have said this before like ten times, and yes I'll do it again: I'm 16 and I train with other teens and some young kids. Those kids are all more advanced than us teens (we are all friends and started together recently). Sensei's daughter is 11 and she's a 2nd kyu (very impresive sight, such a short person with a blue belt), so she's obviously always helping us, as are some older kids and some younger. There's an 8 yo who's very willing to help and I have no problem at all of being taught by him. A dojo is a very special place where age doesn't really matter. Kids are not being treated as inferior, but actually being asked for help by older people. Teens (and I won't include myself here, for one of the things I'm proud about myself is not being like this) tend to ignore or even treat children badly in their daily lives, so I'm sure it's a nice change for kids to enter a dojo.

The only problem is that adults can't be so hard on kids, so training too much with them could affect their training. That's why I think kids should have separate classes, or as we do at my dojo: a kids class with beginner teens, and an adults class with advanced teens.

Quote:
It depends if the children are training or just running around wild
Yeah this happens with very young kids. We have an early class for 3 kids. They are like 4 or 5 yo and it's just impossible. They look cute though, the youngest daughter of Sensei even has a little hakama.

Last edited by Lucy Smith : 05-04-2006 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 05-04-2006, 04:45 PM   #17
emma.mason15
Dojo: Shima Arashi Dojo
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Re: Children in the Dojo

kids make ya re think your own technique ..... and then .... when they improve ... point out your problems! .. gits

Dance your cares away .... worry for another day ... let the music play .... down in fraggle rock!

when bored ... do as I do. Poke a patient!
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Old 05-04-2006, 04:50 PM   #18
emma.mason15
Dojo: Shima Arashi Dojo
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Quote:
Lucy Smith wrote:
Yeah this happens with very young kids. We have an early class for 3 kids. They are like 4 or 5 yo and it's just impossible. They look cute though, the youngest daughter of Sensei even has a little hakama.

do you really find the 5yo a problem? .... I train with 4 5yo and some times they are better behaved than the 7/8 yo .... they still have a sense of fear (not the best word to use here .... but you know .. almost an intimdation of "man in black skirt") where as the older kids are far more difficult, they're more arguementative ... and the teenagers are hell on a large stick!
so ... all Im going to say is
BRING ON THE MINI-AIKIDOKA

Dance your cares away .... worry for another day ... let the music play .... down in fraggle rock!

when bored ... do as I do. Poke a patient!
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Old 05-04-2006, 05:23 PM   #19
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
Location: Seattle
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Re: Children in the Dojo

I have learned a lot from our kid students, especially the senior blue-belt, who is definitely better than I am. (I know more techniques but he is killer with the ones he does know--the first time he threw me kaitenage it scared me spitless.)

There's nothing like a teenager to test if your pins *really* work. Everything I know about the ikkyo pin I learned from a different dojo's teenager who spent most of an evening getting out of it, and challenging me to get out of his. (He taught me, if your hands are trapped tap with your foot. If your hands *and* feet are trapped, pound your head on the mat!)

The younger kids can be challenging to teach, depending on the dynamics of the particular group--it varies hugely from night to night. Also, they are much easier to teach on Saturday morning than they are on Tuesday evening. But we have okay results from 6 onwards. We gave up on 4-5 however as it was exhausting and frustrating for the teachers.

Our school requires teaching or assisting in kids' classes as a prerequisite to shodan, which I think helps keep kids' classes from becoming a stuck place for their instructors.

Can't resist quoting what one of our shodans said (to the teens and me, at a party): "The reason for requiring kids' teaching for shodan is, if you can teach them and not succumb to the desire to break their little backs and legs, you have enough self-control for the black belt." I do know what he meant, but I also enjoy them a lot. Most of the time, anyway, except the days after Halloween, Easter,
and Valentine's Day. Sugar really puts them into a tailspin.

Mary Kaye
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Old 05-04-2006, 05:49 PM   #20
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
The reason for requiring kids' teaching for shodan is, if you can teach them and not succumb to the desire to break their little backs and legs, you have enough self-control for the black belt.
That was a golden one! In your dojo, I would never have made it to shodan.
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Old 05-04-2006, 05:56 PM   #21
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Quote:
Richard Langridge wrote:
We train with kids once a week at our dojo, and whilst it's great fun, I find it really tough at times. I'm still a beginner, so I have trouble with techniques anyway, but kids are very often very uncompromising ukes. For example, they always manange to spin out of my shihonage, which is really baffling.
Adults ( particularly newish ones) finding kids spinning out of shihonage is a fairly common problem, they are usually very supple and they have a height advantage for this technique, coupled with the fact that we often go much softer on them. It feels quite natural for them to just turn out of it. It is possible to make the exercise work without causing any discomfort, but it does take practice and sensitivity and care.

I really appreciate the different challenges that the kids give me as a teacher. I also think that that aikido is a fantastic art for adults and children to practice together. The adults often learn how little 'strength' is needed when they are thrown by a 'higher grade' kid. And the kids get to feel that they can work with adults on an equal footing. Something that is not possible practicing an art where weight, height and strength put you at a distinct advantage.

regards,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 05-05-2006, 04:08 AM   #22
Steve Mullen
Dojo: White Rose (Sunderland)
Location: Washington
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England
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
Adults ( particularly newish ones) finding kids spinning out of shihonage is a fairly common problem, they are usually very supple and they have a height advantage for this technique, coupled with the fact that we often go much softer on them. It feels quite natural for them to just turn out of it. It is possible to make the exercise work without causing any discomfort, but it does take practice and sensitivity and care.
I know what you are getting at here mark, but in my (as i said above) limited experience of training with kids then causing them discomfort shouldn't be worried about, as long as you stop short of causing excessive pain.

For shihonage i always found that stretching the arm away from mini-uki causes them enough discomfort for them to realise that it would hurt more if they tried to move. a small amount of physical discomfort also lets them know that they are actually learning something that works, and prepares them for 'the next step' (for want of a better phrase).

Steve

P.S
I in no way advocate the use of excessive force on small people, unless they really annoy you, or you want to make yourself feel like a real man by picking on someone smaller than you

"No matter your pretence, you are what you are and nothing more." - Kenshiro Abbe Shihan
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Old 05-09-2006, 09:57 PM   #23
Lucy Smith
Dojo: Samurai Dojo
Location: Montevideo
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Sensei is out on a trip to Brazil with who-knows-how-many 8th Dans and stuff, so some of the shodans at the adults class are teaching us. But yesterday no one came up, so we asked Sensei's 11 yo daughter (the highest ranked, along with another 2nd 15 yo kyu who got hers last month) to teach us. The 15 yo tried, but no one listened to her... we like Sensei's daughter better. A shodan came when there were 20 mins left, so we technically "started" the class with him, but it was such a nice experience to have an hour practice with an 11 yo "Sensei".
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Old 05-10-2006, 02:11 AM   #24
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
Location: On the road - UK
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Re mini-nage - three approaches - the one where you make life more painful for them to resist (mentioned), 2 - stop them spinning with your back, and another - use LESS force and more aiki - if you're soft enouygh thery don't try to spin out of it untill its too late! (Currently teaching 20 kids who don't speak my language).

Lucy - 15 yr old Sensei - cool! Tell her good luck and to not worry about the older lower grades who think they know best
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Old 05-10-2006, 03:23 AM   #25
Dirk Hanss
 
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Germany
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Re: Children in the Dojo

Hi Mark,

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
(Currently teaching 20 kids who don't speak my language).
OT:
Maybe I am mixing again something up, but -
Shuldn't you teach them in their language? At least you seem to speak their body language, which is the most important part.

But humbly I would suggest to rephrase the wording to
"Currently I am teaching 20 kidds, whose language I do not speak"


All the best Dirk
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