Kids Aikido: Class Structure Age 4-14
Kids Aikido Classes
Aikido for Self Defense
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.
Aikido for Fitness
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.
Aikido for Discipline
The practice itself brings together a broad array of benefits in this area. First, the school system tends to focus on intellectual training to the exclusion of a specific focus on building positive character. Aikido teaches compassion at a fundamental level – compassion for someone trying to harm you physically – and how compassion makes self-defense more effective. While the overall tenor of the class does use their natural energy of play to encourage learning, children are required to work on the material and focus to the extent of their ability. Their capacity in this arena grows with challenge. When children behave improperly, they are disciplined firmly, but with compassion and an explanation of the need involved, reducing the negative emotions typical of this experience. They develop more confidence in their physical abilities, which translates into greater confidence overall. As a partner practice, Aikido encourages positive social development. Lastly, we have specific training methods for special needs issues such as ADHD, Autism, sensory integration, etc. These benefits can lead to improvements in school work and teaching children how to balance their life as they grow older.
Goku Homma on Teaching Children
"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