What My Child Can Learn From Aikido

What is Aikido?

Aikido is not a sport and very different from any martial art you might know. It helps children learn to deal with difficult situations in a non-violent manner. They are taught not to clash or become tense when they encounter conflict, but to relax and redirect the negative situation. This process builds good social and communicative skills. It teaches body awareness, sensitivity to movement and coordination. Aikido training develops self-confidence and a positive self-image. It teaches practical everyday skills that will help them stay clearheaded and focused at school, during sports, and while interacting in social/emotional situations.

What will my children learn?

The child will learn more than a martial art. Aikido is not fighting - it is blending with an attacker's force and then redirecting it, using balance, posture, and mental awareness. Aikido is known for its graceful techniques and swift effortless movements. Aikido is an excellent form of physical exercise and self-defense. During classes, children work with one another in a non-competitive, safe and cooperative atmosphere to refine their movements and develop self-confidence.

Making tiny champions is not our goal or purpose. We work to develop children who can think for themselves and practice patience and perseverance.

The nine main life skills taught to children in Aikido South Africa are:

  • Kindness
  • Teamwork
  • Coordination
  • Patience
  • Self Discipline
  • Memory
  • Respect
  • Balance
  • Fitness

Children learn respect for themselves and their fellow students, self-discipline, focus, coordination and confidence. Children's aikido classes within Aikido South Africa expose kids to a mixture of formal techniques, movement skills and games designed to create an understanding of aikido's basic principles. Aikido also inherently fosters leadership, which will be invaluable in your child’s later years. There are no tournaments, contests or competitions.

Progress in Aikido

Colour coded belts will be awarded at the discretion of the instructor for progress made while training. The testing process is designed to enhance confidence and self-esteem. At the age of 14-16, children will be transferred to the senior’s class with ease, possibly excelling faster than the senAikido Bloubergstrandiors themselves.

Shihan Fujimoto(8th Dan) is directly involved in the guidelines taught to children in Aikido South Africa.The atmosphere is one of friendship, cooperation and mutual respect. It is also important for children to learn to be sensitive to what pain feels like to others and act accordingly.

Aikido for children is effective, safe, and most importantly - funSmile.

Respect and Dojo Etiquette

Aikido etiquette is important to demonstrate a deep respect towards the dojo and fellow students. The etiquette of the dojo works exactly the same way for all who practise aikido. For example, an aikidoist (student) must face the kamiza (front of the dojo) and bow before stepping onto the mat. As soon as the instructor is ready to begin the class, the students line up facing the kamiza to 'bow in' to the class and the instructor. If your child arrives late, he or she must wait outside the tatami (mat) until the instructor gives permission to join the class. If a child absolutely must leave the tatami during the class, he or she asks permission from the instructor teaching the class. The students are aware that one can only leave the tatami during class for real emergencies, and not to go take a drink of water, for example. After the demonstration of a technique, a child must choose a partner to practise with as quickly as possible, without taking time to select anyone in particular. The child must accept to practise with everyone in the class without discrimination. All students bow to their partners before and after they practise with them out of respect.

It goes without saying that children on the mat must have clean feet, short nails and hair attached if needed. It is also important for students to take good care of their equipment, folding and keeping their gi's (uniforms) clean and folded between classes. Shoes are not allowed on the mat and students are required to wear sandals / slip-ons before stepping onto the tatami. These notions of respect do not end when the class has finished. We truly believe that this respect for etiquette creates an atmosphere that encourages respectful relations with others.

Please join me in this fascinating journey for your child.

Sensei Elroy Goliath (click here to contact me if you have any questions regarding aikido for children)

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