Aikido for Kids Westchester NY: Childrens Classes
Complete Youtube Video Series: Benefits of Martial Arts, the Best Martial Art for You, About Aikido and Tai Chi.
Aikido for Kids: In a Nutshell
As far as kids classes are concerned, martial arts training is uniquely positioned to provide a sense of wholeness as a human being while implanting a sense of ethics and proper values. Children are taught the profound message of truly benefiting someone who wishes to do them harm, which is normally consistent with protecting themselves. In addition, practical benefits such as physical conditioning, self defense and self confidence accrue.
- Self defense
- Sword & staff
- Discipline & self confidence
- Learn how to fall without injury
- Coordination, centering, breathing & balance
- Learn self defense without use of damaging strikes that may do unnecessary harm
emphasizes the power and effectiveness of intelligent compassion to yield both results and genuine happiness in life
When most people think of self defense classes for children, the local Karate or Tae Kwon dojo is the first reflex. They will learn confidence, discipline, centering and balance and walk away with sufficient skill to handle the bullies they encounter. However, this knee jerk reaction for children may not be best.
These benefits for the other arts may very well be true, but it is equally true of Aikido. The difference lies in a subtle but important distinction in the underlying philosophy. The point of all martial arts training ultimately is to build the character of the individual practitioner. However, there are different paths among different arts. Karate, Tae Kwon Do, many forms of Kung Fu, Ju Jitsu and Krav Maga all begin by teaching how to disable an attacker. The techniques are harsh and dangerous. We all know that the individual instructors emphasize the self defense aspects of these arts, teaching children only to use it if absolutely necessary and never tell other people about their knowledge or skills. That said, how many times has little Jane or Johnny, an excitable 8 year old, failed to heed such warnings and gone off jumping, kicking and doing other cool stuff. When adults aren't around, the children don't always have the control to listen to such sound advice. When a real combat situation occurs, the excitement and lack of control is exacerbated. Children must learn to maintain a peaceful attitude as they learn the damaging techniques, so they will be better controlled when they must decide how much force to use. It takes a very advanced instructor in these other martial arts to help children navigate this environment safely.
Aikido is a very different martial art. The purpose of Aikido, as developed by the founder, was as a form of practice to bring peace to mankind. How is learning to fight a method to bring peace? This is the fundamental point. The founder's realization was that true Budo (the path of the warrior) is love. Real power in self defense is derived from caring for our fellow human beings, not learning how to break their bones or knock them unconscious. This profound truth is taught from the onset in Aikido, thus emphasizing the means to avoid the physical confrontation first. Techniques are not designed to injure or disable the attacker, but to control them so neither you nor the attacker are harmed. To the extent lethal force is genuinely needed for self defense, the practitioner should be able to figure out how to implement such techniques on their own at advanced stages of practice. They are not taught. Concern for the well being of the attacker is emphasized from the beginning, as opposed to other arts where that comes in much later.
Understand and Respect Other Martial Arts
If this is supposed to be more effective than learning to maim and kill people in self defense, then why isn't this approach used in Karate, Tae Kwon Do, etc? The fact is, different people have different dispositions. Some people begin their training in martial arts with a good deal of insecurity and nothing but a desire to learn self defense quickly. They would look at Aikido, where the emphasis is on controlling rather than harming the attacker, and decide very quickly the art is useless. The fact is, the power of Aikido is very subtle. The art is extremely lethal, but that aspect is not taught as mentioned above. But some people do not look for these subtleties. For quick self defense, just add water, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, etc. appear the better option on the surface to people with such a disposition. In those arts, after sufficient confidence is instilled, they begin to train students to build their character as in Aikido. This may take quite a few years for an adult, however. So, in short, Aikido is the direct method in martial arts training whereas other arts use an expedient with the intention of arriving at the same place, ultimately.
What does this mean for children? For adults, an expedient such as that described above is not a problem. However, for children it very well may be. You may wish to think about how much self control your child has in play as well as under stress before embarking on a martial art that employs very damaging methods for children to use on each other in self defense. The fact is, Aikido and Judo are probably better alternatives for children up to the age of 15 or so in the typical case. Very high quality instruction in martial arts such as Karate can bypass this concern.