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 two sections according to age.
5-9 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.
10 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 Toko J. Flower, 6th Dan Shidoin (fully certified teacher of Birankai International)