Aikido: Unique Martial Art for Kids
Aikido's Unique Quality
When my son was in 6th grade, he defended himself well from another child. When he was brought to the principal's office, it slipped that he trained in martial arts. The principal was very angry. "When did your teacher tell you it was okay to strike another student?!" he demanded. You could tell he had run into this problem before.
But he was wholly unprepared for my son's response: "He never taught us HOW to hit anyone?" The principal very confused.
Aikido is a different martial art. The purpose of Aikido, as developed by the founder, was as a form of practice to bring peace to mankind. The founder's realization was that true Budo (the path of the warrior) is love. Techniques are not designed to injure or disable the attacker, but to control them so neither you nor the attacker are harmed. Children who train in damaging strikes may have trouble knowing when to use them, which is why the principal was concerned. In Aikido they are less likely to cause injury to other children and face consequences in school.
We do tend to recommend Judo for children as well - even though the throws are harsh, children are less often injured from them than adults. In the case of martial arts that teach striking, we suggest parents evaluate the instructor to feel comfortable that instruction is handled well.
Aikido vs. MMA
Aikido vs. MMA
MMA has taken the public awareness by storm, mainly due to television. But that doesn't mean MMA is the only or even the best program for your child. In fact the practice is only designed for a fraction of people in our culture.
A good way to gauge the practice of a particular MMA school is to think of how that principal would react if he saw your child training there.
Also, consider your child. Is he / she aggressive, competitive, shy or timid? Are they very compassionate, repulsed by violence? The child's disposition plays an important role in the decision about the most appropriate martial art.
Aikido vs. Karate / Other Martial Arts
Karate and other traditional martial arts have a more explicit culture of building positive character in children.
However, to avoid situations where your child over reacts to an attack and hurts someone, you will need to evaluate the skill level of the instructor to impart this information to a young child. The acid test of imagining that principal may be helpful here as well.
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Martial Arts for Kids
Unique Benefits of Aikido for Kids
The benefits of martial arts for children are widely known. They are clearly helpful for bullying and physical exercise. They can capture the imagination of your child while they teach discipline, self confidence, patience and perseverance, etc.
More so for partner practices such as Aikido, there are social benefits. Children become less shy and more assertive. They also develop friendships with other children who are learning the same lessons. The community aspects of martial arts training are important, so you should pay attention during the selection process.
But Aikido has another specific benefit which is worth considering when compared to alternatives such as Karate or MMA.