Aikido for children

Why choose Aikido for your children?

Physical benefits  Though Aikido is perhaps one of the lesser known martial arts, it is one of the best for young growing bodies. It develops the body in a very balanced way exercising the entire body in one unit rather than isolating certain sections. It demands a good level of flexibility and strength combined which helps prevent bodies getting stiff especially in teenage years when the body goes through sudden growth spurts.

Emotional benefits  Aikido has no competitions and so avoids bringing this concept to the practice, the only competition is for each individual against his/her own limits. Children are encouraged to expand their limits of ability, stamina and courage. The nature of Aikido practice and the performing and receiving of techniques helps maintain this balance and encourages an atmosphere of cooperation which can be really creative.

Social benefits  As young people grow through the practice and watch their techniques become stronger and more effective and are able to receive more and more dynamic techniques their confidence grows too. This proves invaluable as it filters into other aspects of daily life and this helps them respect their Aikido practice all the more.

The children’s Aikido program at Athens Aikido is divided into three sections according to age.

3.5-5 Year olds. This group is focused on helping young bodies develop strength and coordination through a process of physical exercises and games. It is designed to be fun and engaging working with sound, movement and partner and group exercises. Some basic principles of Aikido are introduced during this phase. It is a great introduction to Aikido and prepares children to enter the next section. Unlike the other sections of the program the younger members of the dojo can sign up for a series of lessons which are offered intermittently throughout the academic year.

The dates for the academic year 2013-2014 are:

1st cycle: 1 October 2013 – 3 December 2013

2nd cycle: 14 January 2014 – 18 March 2014

3nd cycle: 1 April 2014 – 17 June 2014

(On 15 and 22 of April no classes will take place, due to Easter holidays)

Children may sign up for one or all series of classes which includes a weekly session on Tuesdays from 5-5.45pm. Payment is based on each individual series of ten classes and payment must be made for the full cycle of lessons at the start of the course. Parents are encouraged to join in though it is not compulsory.

5-8 year olds. * This section of the children’s program is structured differently from that of the younger children. In this program children are introduced to the basic principles of Aikido, learning how to fall and roll (ukemi) and how to perform techniques. Children enter the grading system at this stage and starting with the first yellow tag begin to work their way through the syllabus. The class begins with a warm up, followed by conditioning exercises and moving into ukemi and technique practice. Teaching becomes more strict for these ages and a different level of concentration is demanded of participants. However, a period of time is set aside for the children to let off steam in partner games at the end of each session to ensure that children enjoy their training experience.

9 year olds and up* Children participating in these classes can expect an intense Aikido experience. These classes are run very much like those of the adults and intensive work is done on strengthening young and teenage bodies through regular conditioning and practice of Aikido techniques. Classes are conducted in a disciplined and serious atmosphere and practitioners in this section are expected to show a high level of commitment to their practice.

*Classes are held twice a week throughout the academic year and children can join any time in the year.

Director of the Children’s program is Jenny Flower, 6th Dan Shidoin (fully certified teacher of Birankai International)