Jose - Age 50
My two children have now studied aikido 3.5 years as well. Their growth has been tremendous in life and aikido. Their confidence has blossomed. Steve Sensei teaches them philosophy as well even though some of the students are as young as 4 or 6 years old. They hear it over and over and at some level it is getting into their persona...We need to be aware of our surroundings and our environment in life, to slow down our pace. I feel Scarsdale Aikido has offered this to our family.Read More
Jason - Age 45
...I’m in my eighth year of training, as is my son...and my daughter is going on her fifth year. We have all grown immeasurably from our practice of Aikido at Still Mind...Aikido has practical applications in my regular work day, in raising my children, and even in being a volunteer firefighter. Its principles can be applied to all of life, aikido is not simply relegated to being a means of self defense...Read More
Imagine a customer walks up to the counter in a drugstore and asks, "I would like to buy some peace of mind. What isle do you have that on?"
Martial arts training, to be most effective, is about developing peace of mind in the most difficult of circumstances. As everyone knows, peace of mind cannot be found in a bottle. It can only be found in you. But finding it takes effort.
Self-defense for children differs for adults in that the attacker, normally a child, is not as dangerous and can be more easily discouraged. Also the child defending does not have the same self-control and discipline as an adult. Aikido is particularly good for this situation in that it starts teaching how to control the attacker rather than harm them. Through exercise and evasive movements, children learn how to center and use their body more effectively. Both evasion and an ability to push solidly is often all that is needed to discourage an attack from another child. Executing complex techniques is often not necessary. Also, the child learns how to fall safely, which is helpful in play and sports as well.
The modern school district is often resource constrained and focused on intellectual education. Physical education can be insufficient. Also, children play more through video games than sports or other exercise. Our program begins with 15 minutes of solid exercise – 5 minutes of running, bear crawls, frog jump, and ends with didactically designed games that are active. The exercise is playful. Also, before or after some of our classes, children have time to play with each other. A padded mat and foam balls often contribute to a physically active form of play. In this way, children learn to connect with and use their body more effectively, and socialize exercise as well.
In Aikido, the word discipline actually means concentration or focus. Study takes place on 3 levels: first hearing instruction, then contemplating if/how it is correct and then realization through concentration and focus. However, in order for a child to genuinely understand a technique, they must be taught in the world in which they experiment – the world of play. When learning tennis, you need more than watching a video. You need to experiment with different variations of strokes to get experience and understand. Children do this in play.Traditional Japanese instruction in Aikido is therefore different from other martial arts, because they have competition whereas Aikido doesn't. So for experimentation, we substitute with play.
"I have often asked myself, 'How can a person in my position - a fully "made-in-Japan" martial arts instructor who lives and teaches in the United States - provide the best possible method for teaching a traditional Japanese martial art to American children?' I have tried to look at the situation from both a traditional Japanese perspective and a contemporary American perspective..." (page 2 - 3)
"In many years of teaching Aikido for children, I have seen hundreds of children. Regardless of their ages and backgrounds, I have found that once they enter the dojo and participating in class, they all become - children. Children who run around the space, who jump all over, roll around, who get praised, who get scolded, who occasionally get into scuffles with other children, who make up, and again start running around. These children are at play. This play is a true learning place for them because they learn best when engaging in their natural behaviors
Using photos and illustrations it is possible to define what sorts of techniques and skills are used in Aikido. But the real value of Aikido training, I believe, is that it teaches students to deal with the kinds of situations they face in everyday lives..." (Page 7)
Children and the Martial Arts
An Aikido Point of view by Gaku Homma