What is Aikido Kids?
Aikido Kids classes are designed as high paced, fun activity classes. Kids learn skills such as ukemi (break falls), kihon dosa (basic movements), and play games that help develop their Aikido skills. Physical challenges are set individually to a level that is difficult but achievable, so children receive a great sense of satisfaction and boost to their self-confidence and self-esteem. Through Aikido, children are exposed to basic elements of Japanese language and culture. Emphasis is placed on group work, cooperation and respect. Training is always done in a safe environment.
In today’s fast paced world, a child’s path to growing up represents vast challenges. Aikido classes teaches kids to:
- Be respectful of others and their environment
- Develop their natural physical ability and fitness
- Conquer fears and protect themselves from injury
- Develop good posture and balance
- Become confident and capable
- Build a healthy sense of self-esteem
- Develop a willingness and ability to work alongside, help, lead, and teach others
- Develop a willingness and ability to focus and work hard to achieve worthy goals
- Appreciate the value of self-discipline
- Have fun and socialise with others
Etiquette simply refers to the rules of behaviour that apply in the dojo. In Aikido, observation of basic forms of etiquette is integral to a respectful and attentive atmosphere which is conducive to learning. By practising in a traditional Japanese dojo, etiquette that dates back to samurai times are adhered to, in this manner children learn how to interact in a respectful and dignified way. An emphasis on etiquette in the dojo allows children to understand the levels of meaning behind them. This encourages sensitivity to our environment and interaction with others.
At our kids Aikido classes the fitness component is mostly calisthenics. Calisthenics are a form of exercise that consist of gross motor movements such as running, pulling-pushing, bending, jumping, changing directions etc. This is all done without the use of equipment and allows young children to develop their natural physical ability. Emphasis on these forms of activity are particularly important in combatting the current trend of obesity and inactivity. In the dojo, the children not as inclined to fitness activities are encouraged to join in because the class is fast-paced and keep a semblance of fun.
Groups such as sports teams and military units often perform leader-directed group calisthenics, and Aikido having derived from the samurai fighting class, utilise this form of synchronized physical training (often including a customized “call and response” routine) to increase group cohesion and discipline.
Ukemi is a Japanese word for the method of falling without getting injured. This allows your child to receive techniques safely and still learn what the technique performed on them feels like. Learning martial art techniques that can be injurious without learning its effect on your own body would only encourage a child to become a bully. However, by receiving these techniques a child becomes sensitive to their own actions and their newly acquired skills.
The ukemi component of our class involves tumbling, rolling, breakfalling in a number of different scenarios. Progressively, your child learns more difficult forms of breakfalling to receive more complex techniques. Participating and developing ukemi allows for conquering minor fears of falling for a child, and allows them to relax their body in a seemingly dangerous state where they may find their feet over their heads!
The beauty of Aikido is that is a non-aggressive martial art. Aikido techniques require an attack or stimulus before its joint lock and throwing techniques can be applied, so it cannot be utilised by children in an aggressive manner. For this reason, children that we teach do not have a Power Rangers attitude where they go around punching and kicking other kids and intimidating them.
We emphasize posture and using the body when applying Aikido techniques. This means even if a child is smaller or less athletic, they can utilise the unison of their whole body in breaking a grip, getting away from a hold, or escaping out of a choke. Furthermore, posture in a child can be a reflection of their confidence and personality. By correcting a child’s posture we affect a child’s personality where we develop their understanding of themselves and their interactions with others.This leads to greater confidence, assertiveness, and respect for themselves and positive interaction with others.
We have regular gradings to encourage working towards a goal and performing in front of their peers. The children’s gradings are always lead by the teacher twice per year. We do not have any sporting competitions in Aikido. We emphasise always doing one’s best rather than competing against each other.
The games we play are at the end of the class to allow the children to socialise and have fun. We aim to provide a balance of the martial art with its benefits but we also want children to enjoy what they do. Playing games helps children reinforce teamwork, the importance of reward and relaxation after a disciplined class, and of course interacting with the other children. The games are mainly geared towards developing children’s fitness ability and reinforcing Aikido movements.
Frequently asked questions
Q: When can my child start?
Your child can start straight away. We offer a free trial class to ensure your child enjoys Aikido before you commit to joining.
Q: Does my child need to have done martial arts before?
Children do not need any previous martial arts experience.
Q: What age group do you teach?
Currently our program caters for children 6-10 years old. Any child younger than 6 years old has to be assessed at the trial first. We will be having a 10 years old + class in the future.
Q: Is Aikido safe? Will my child get injured?
Like any sport, it is possible that your child will get injured. However, Aikido is a gentle art and your child’s safety is of utmost importance to the instructors at all times. We do not teach your child to punch or kick other children.
Q: Do you have test or grading or competitions?
We do not have competitions. We do however have periodical gradings to allow the child an opportunity to perform in front of an audience and to emphasise the importance of goal setting and practising to achieve.
Q: Where is the training hall/dojo and what are the facilities like?
Classes are held in a traditional Japanese dojo in the Melbourne Budo Academy in Fitzroy.
Q: When are the classes?
The classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5.00pm and run for one hour.