Aikido Kinokawa classes for Kids!
Aikido is not fighting. In its purest sense, it is the complete resolution of conflict. No parent wants to raise a child who is on the giving or receiving end of bullying. Aikido teaches us how to manage our emotions and our bodies. Preparing children to be aware of their surroundings, to project confidence, and to know how to protect themselves is invaluable.
Your child will not learn to break boards here, or compete in knock-down — or knock-out — tournaments. What they will learn is far more important: confidence; respect; integrity; responsibility; physical and mental development; multicultural understanding — all in the context of practical and usable self-defense techniques.
At Kinokawa Aikido, we firmly believe that children need to be taught in an age-appropriate manner. The lessons we teach our youngest children help prepare them for the next level of training, but more importantly teach them skills for everyday life. While they are not ready for the most advanced techniques of aikido, they are ready for the fundamentals. We teach those skills in a fun, yet disciplined way.
We divide the children into groups by age and maturity. Our youngest group includes children age 5-8; the middle group includes children 9-12, and after that, the children study with adults — though we always remember where they are developmentally!
Aikido Kids (ages 5-8)
For our youngest students, we focus on eight core values.
- physical fitness
Each week we concentrate on one of these values. We start each class with stretches and strengthening exercises, we talk about the value (how it applies directly to Aikido and to life in general), we learn a building block technique, and we play a game to reinforce the word of the week. Each class the children must earn their game. To gain the privilege of the fun at the end of class, they must work hard, treat everyone in the dojo with respect, and they must try to understand the value of the day. We also emphasize mentorship with the children. We fully expect the more experienced children, be they 5 or 8, to help the new students.
Juniors (ages 9-12)
We recognize that there are important developmental milestones in kids’ lives. We have heard the transition around 8-9 is when children change from “big little kids” to “little big kids.” We want to show our children respect by transitioning them out of Aikido Kids into the Juniors Class around this time. We watch for a child’s birthday, but more importantly, we watch the child. If a child is ready at 8½, we will promote that child. Conversely, we will wait until 9½ if we think an extra 6 months of preparation is warranted.
Once they graduate into this class, the children do warm-ups with the adults. There are important fundamentals covered at this time that are essential to learning more advanced techniques properly. After warm-ups, they break off into their own class, where they will study Aikido techniques ranging from basic to advanced. Though we have a very clearly delineated set of skills required for each belt test, we do not “teach to the test.”Though more is required of this age group, we remember that they are still children! They too can earn a game each class. If all goes well during warm-ups and techniques, they play a game (focused on the core values listed above).
Seniors (age 13+)
At the age of 13 we advance a child to the adult class. Again, we must emphasize that this age is just a guideline. We promote the child when he or she is ready. This transitions them to the adult belt-testing requirements.
It is important to note that we are all on the mat together -from age 5 to 75! This helps to build a sense of community and shows the youngest members of the dojo what they will learn over time -it also reminds the senior students of their roots.