Before we look at what Aikido can offer children we should first take a brief look at what Aikido is. Developed from the ancient Japanese Fighting Arts of Feudal Japan like Karate, Jujitsu and Judo Aikido is an effective form of self-defence, and is first and foremost a Martial Art. However Aikido does have some fundamental differences.
Being essentially an art of self- defence there is no attack as such studied by Aikido students. The main focus is on controlled defence utilising the energies generated by the attack. Reliance is placed therefore on the movement, displacement, and techniques, with emphases being placed on circularity and spherical movements in order to overcome attack.
There is no need for strength in Aikido and the use of strength is much discouraged by teachers.
This make Aikido an ideal art for those who are small in stature, and is therefore suitable for everyone, male female, and young or old alike.
Taking Martial Arts into the Schools
Martial Arts such as Karate, Judo etc in the schools are by no means a new concept, and have been received with enthusiasm by those schools that participate. These Arts help to promote fitness, self-control and confidence, as well as a means of self-defence. However, the sporting side of these arts may also bread a degree of arrogance due to their competitive side. This can result in those who are of a quiet withdrawn nature, or of low self esteem missing out on what the Martial arts has to offer.
So what make Aikido different?
The most noticeable difference is that there is no competition in aikido and therefore no winners or losers. Students have to learn to rely on each other in order to progress, and not compete.
Aikido has a more passive accepting nature to an attack and advocates a none violent answer to violence. This however does not deter from its effectiveness as a self-defence Art.
The passive and accepting nature of Aikido is in effect its strength. Aggression can be defused without the need to be aggressive return. The reliance on others in order to progress, with others relying on you, helps to promote an understanding of others. These values once learned can extend to everyday life.
Aikido also promotes self-confidance, self-control, humility, fitness and self discipline, with a willingness to help others. When teaching children it is important to promote these values so as to reduce the risk of injury through over enthusiasm.
The CUA Aikido Union has now run several courses within the schools. This has been an interesting and rewarding challenge. Most surprising was how quickly the children (students) progressed. After only eight weeks with only one lesson per week these values were showing through. Most notably the self-confidence and the willingness to help others.
During an initial eight-week course these students learned the following:
1. Mat etiquette
2. Posture and balance skills
3. Safety on the mat.
4. Body movements of Aikido: Tenkan / Taisabaki
5. Awareness skills
6. Japanees terminology (relevant to Aikido)
7. Ukeme (the Art of falling safely)
8. A few basic Aikido techniques
9. Brake away and escape techniques
And more as there were spin offs during lessons.
At the completion of these courses the students had obtained an excellent grounding to allow them to continue. Not only in their studies of Aikido, but also to further develop the principles of the Art, as well as the values above.
cua 2007 ©
Absolute power, or so I thought
Holy stone school loomed at me, it was at 3.30pm on a dark winter's night, the kids from school were just
starting to leave, I waited at the Gate in my car for the caretaker to see me in. 14 kids were booked to somehow learned a martial art, we had eight weeks, one hour sessions, to produce a result.
It was a new learning curve for me, normally I don't teach children in fact over the 30 years that I have practised and taught the martial art of Aikido I think that only half a dozen children have been in one of my classes.
Phil Turner, the organiser of this course assured me that all involved were so enthusiastic about this project that it was actually oversubscribed and more people wanted to be on this course than they had ever dreamed of anyway we all got changed, the mats that we had, we set out. the children ran around the mats tumbled and fell, rolled, screamed, shouted and went absolutely crazy.
Of course I had already prepared all of the lessons for the eight weeks in my mind, but things didn't work out the way I thought it would be, In fact after about five minutes I threw the prep work in to my mental bin!!
I knew that I had to make some kind of impact to be able to sustain life and most of all sanity to get through these two months
I decided to take the hard approach to be able to control this lot . It worked my hard looking face (not really) , and fierce hand clap got them all a lined up in a row. Peace reigned but for how long.
Well peace reined about two minutes at the most. It was time To try and create some kind of a game in order to maintain some kind of interest.
That seemed to work I found that if I put everything into a sort of game mode, that may be my saviour, but alas it was not, my little trusts were looking for something more .That something more was Aikido,Aikido,Aikido.
When do we get to do the Aikido, one of them spouted, I had earmarked this one as a potential
Mhhh !!Its going to be hard work getting through this hour!!.
Tell you what let's have a competition, let's see who can balance on one leg, but for the next hour !!!.
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