Aikido is a non-combative Japanese martial art where there is no competitive sparring, but rather a focus on fostering cooperation and harmonization through daily practice. While punches and attacks are used as something to defend against, the goal is for the student to redirect the aggression without injury to themselves, or their attacker. It is the skilled and effective application of physics and anatomy at a higher level. It teaches self-defense, focus, confidence, and it is serious FUN!
Children are avid learners, they enjoy challenging their minds and bodies and take special pride in mastering new skills. And they require regular exercise to stay fit, both physically and mentally. We provide a safe, fun environment to learn simple aikido techniques and teach dojo etiquette.
Currently, all three of our youth program groups run concurrent with each other, and will often interact with each other.
Our goals with junior Aikidoka are to develop:
More so than adults, the young need physical fitness. And one of the most common reasons to join a martial art is for exercise. While not requiring strength or force, aikido is a dynamic art that gets the body moving and the blood pumping. Studying aikido can improve endurance, flexibility, balance, strength, cardiovascular health and overall energy levels. It is a great way to get fit, stay fit, and learn life skills.
Life skills include the obvious – discipline, self control and patience – but they are so much more – confidence, courage, and self respect. A girl learns confidence and courage from throwing a boy halfway across a room. A boy learns respect and self control from being thrown halfway across the room, and not getting hurt. These skills are invaluable in life, and invaluable in self defense.
The clear focus of AiKids is self defense, but the true goal is conflict resolution, personal responsibility and, when needed, evasion. NOT head-to-head conflict in the guise of self defense. The bully learns what it is to be controlled and dominated. The bullied learns to stand their ground and end a conflict, even when no one is punching at them. It helps shape who they will become, and the behaviors they display.
Like life skills, behavior skills are essential in life and in aikido. From improving attention spans by learning to sit still and focus, to demeanor, respect and self control. Behaviors needed when working alone, or in a team.
It is essential that the young develop cooperation and teamwork skills, in life and in Aikido. But not every child is made to play football. In Aikido techniques are practiced and mastered with partners, each working to learn the technique, and help their partner learn it. We do not spar, but gather in randori (a circle where one person has the whole dojo as their partners). Through these exercises students learn to work with, trust and respect others.
Youth Program Groups
Our youth program is broken into three groups roughly defined by age. Not every youth is the same, and having hard-set age limits means someone may be stuck in a group that they are either more, or less, mature than. Our groups are more fluid, and there is a large cross-over in ages so youth can be best placed with those that are more properly their peers.
Chi – Earth
Children in this age range tend to not be ready to perform or receive full aikido techniques, as the bodies and minds are still in a strong state of growth. Indeed, some aikido techniques could be highly damaging to a child’s joints at this stage. Instead, the Chi group focuses on skill building and express the excess energy of youth through embodied movement, games, and exercises based on aikido. The intent is to expand the child’s awareness of their body and the space around them using basic aikido movements. Chi members develop focus, confidence, and interpersonal skills through games and group activities, as well as valuable lessons of cooperation, gratitude, respect, and compassion.
Sui – Water
The focus of this group is on the development of the fundamental movement and skills of aikido, predominantly rolling, knee-walking, centering, blending and extending energy. They experience martial arts in a empowering and supportive environment where they learn martial and virtuous behavior through aikido. Students learn the fundamental self-defense techniques of aikido, while at the same time developing physically, mentally, and socially. Students learn self discipline, coordination, and discover their own inner strength. Students also learn to apply the principles of focus, cooperation and social responsibility in their daily lives. Aikido techniques teach children how to blend with an attack, redirect aggressive energy and seek a decisive, yet peaceful, resolution to conflict.
Ka – Fire
Ka provides the opportunity for adolescents to develop as mature aikidoka while cultivating qualities that will help them navigate adolescence and the rest of their lives. Structured much like adult aikido classes, and presented at a much higher level than the other youth groups, students are introduced to challenging new skills and techniques, and active goal-setting. Teens will learn skills of self-defense and build confidence, awareness, and self-control. The Ka program is designed to be a place in which young people can find ways to access their own potential, to become engaged and mature young adults ready to make a difference in their world. Ka program members will not only be able to attend all youth classes, but will often be invited to attend adult home and away events as well.
We provide a special group for women who are in, or entering, adolescence to better experience the world of aikido as they grow into women.
This group is lead by the female sempai and meets regularly outside of normal class time to explore aikido and being a woman in this modern world.
How to Start
Come watch a class
Visitors are always welcome to the dojo. Observing a class is the best way to understand what aikido is, how the classes are structured, and if it is a right fit for you and your child.
Talk with an instructor
Email, call or come into class early and talk to the instructor and the aids. We’ll be happy to answer your questions, show you around, and help get you and your young one started.
Start when you like
New members can start at any time. Unlike other programs that are locked into so many classes or program times, new students can join at any time and will be able to fit right in. Junior Aikidoka move at the pace they need, not one defined by a preset program. Classes have an instructor, two aids, and senior students who can guide new members.
No special clothing is required to join. All that is required is clothing your child can move in that covers the knees. Sweats and a t-shirt are great. As they progress and are nearing their first rank testing, you’ll want to buy a gi. In Aikido we use a judo gi, which is thicker with quilting for padding. But a standard karate gi is fine. Even an old gi their big brother or cousin had for tae kwon do is fine as long as it is white (bleached or unbleached), and free of patches and logos. And a white belt.
The Role of Parents
We encourage parents/guardians to make as much of a commitment to the children’s programs as the instructors and children. Parental involvement can include participation in introductory lessons for adults and understanding the Ki principles which helps to reinforce our lessons in the child’s daily life.
If there is a particular aspect of Aikido you want to see in your child, be it focus, greater responsibility or confidence, talk with the instructors and aids and they will help to develop a plan. But it cannot be just twice a week. The habits and lessons learned on the mat must be encouraged and re-enforced at home. They must be utilized and strengthened to stick. For example, if you wish, among other aspects, to see your child develop greater sense of responsibility, taking them home to play in front of the X-Box for hours while you take out the trash sends a mixed signal. And one your child will unquestionable receive loud and clear.