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#159700 - 06/23/05 09:43 PM Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido
KiDoHae Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 06/29/04
Posts: 999
A few years ago I had my first experience with aikido and often brought my son to the aikido classes. At the time he was about 8 1/2 and already taking karate for 3 years. The karate dojo I trained at would take children between the age of 5 & 6 (this is a non-profit dojo) and many seemd to seemed do just fine with the physical aspects of the art.

At any rate, although my son had no interest in aikido the subject of what was the appropriate age for kids to start came up. My Sensei's son, I believe, was almost 14 at the time. He told me that he had only just begun to teach him some basics. When I asked him why, he told me that he felt that the movements and techniques of aikido were too complicated for young children any younger than that (14ish) to learn.

What does anyone think about that and/or have any of you had experience with dojo's that train students younger than around 13? Even younger still?

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#159701 - 06/23/05 11:13 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: KiDoHae]
LastGURU Offline
The one who knows
Member

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 148
Loc: Riga, Latvia
I tent to think it is best to make children start at the age of about 4 so that movements come natural and the martial art become part of them, not a skill attained later.
_________________________
Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without

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#159702 - 06/23/05 11:31 PM Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: KiDoHae]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3116
Loc: East Coast, United States
Aiki, whatever flavor is subtle and will likely NOT appeal unless it is tangible and easy to see. Subtle is easily lost on young ones... Just as young (and old?) will see and understand the PUNCH and kick aspect of Karate, will they truly understand below that level? Perception is a funny thing, it will only permit us to see what doors we choose and are able to open.

Aiki <shrug> late teens maybe? It will depend on the child, but most do not get even the surface of so called "simpler" technical arts. Aiki is better suited to technically more experienced folks. The ~second art~ so to speak..

There are several books written specifically addressing this very topic ie Aikido and Children. (Gaku <sp.?> Homma's on Aikdio I believe still the best out there...)
There are many articles on ~what art~ to choose specific to children. Consider seeking them out as well.

To answer your question specifically, I assume he's clearly not completed his karate study, correct? If he still loves ther ~Steven Seagal~ version of Aiki in several years maybe he can find a spot for it...

For now, try and ~stay in the boat~! Don't know if this will help or not, hope so,

Regardless its merely my opinion, clearly I could be mistaken

J

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#159703 - 06/24/05 12:05 AM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: KiDoHae]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Hmmmm... a very interesting question since I constantly ponder why and what is it I am teaching young children (my 2 boys included, 6 and 8 respectively).

I don't necessarily agree that the moves are too complicated or technical. Perhaps it is because we tend to rationalize/analyze aikido, and in the process, make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Aikido is in actuality quite simple (yet profoundly deep at the same time). I remember one of my sempai once remarked that it [aikido] was so simple that it eludes most people.

Kids in my class range from 6-17 (6 being my 2nd son, who is the youngest in the class).

Despite the vast age difference, I am constantly amazed at the ability of the ones below 10 to execute simple gross movement techniques, in comparison with the older ones, who supposedly have finer motor control skills between 9-12. For some perculiar reason, the 12-17 age group in my class seems to be "coordination challenged".

Perhaps my boys have had the luxury of me as their father, who prefers to "play" rather than teach as such, or perhaps I have been "playing" and "throwing" them around (and being "thrown around" by them) since they were able to walk. Not sure which has been a greater contributing factor...

I remember, my teacher certainly had a wonderful way of keeping it simple, although, I think our brains keep interfering with that simplicity.

In some small way, it undoubtedly reflects on the ability of the teacher, not that I'm suggesting I'm any good as a teacher, but perhaps I am better at "playing at kid's level" than others. (One of my sempai for example has no kids, never had kids, and finds kid's classes quite "boring").

As my teacher used to say "forget technique, just play".... which I suspect he meant quite literally...

Thanks for reminding me! Now I know what I'm going to teach...er... I mean "play with" tonite.

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#159704 - 06/24/05 08:16 AM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: KiDoHae]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
Did you ever try and buy a "Hakama" for a small child?Sometimes I wear a hakama when practicing Iaido, my son has a small unsharpend katana that he likes to use/emulate his dAd. The other day he asked me if he could wear a hakama too and of course I said that we would buy him one. About four different people/stores told me that they don't make hakama's for children??????????? My son is 7. Hey maybe thats why you can't start Aikido until your older
_________________________
The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

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#159705 - 06/24/05 09:11 AM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: schanne]
LastGURU Offline
The one who knows
Member

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 148
Loc: Riga, Latvia
Maybe a Hakama designed for old people that have shrunk to about his size will be good for him?
_________________________
Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without

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#159706 - 06/24/05 12:30 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: LastGURU]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
Old people do shrink, I expect to loose about 4-5 inches by the time I'm 80. I suppose he could wear his older sister brownie skirt, hhmmmm..... never mind.
_________________________
The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

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#159707 - 06/24/05 04:07 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: LastGURU]
KiDoHae Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 06/29/04
Posts: 999
As always, interesting points of view...

"aiki" does tend to involve fine motor skills and there is a sublety to the physical movements that could be lost on younger folks.

eyrie seems to have done OK with his little guys which is the flip side my old sensei's.

In my hapkido dojang there were only a few 16 or 17 year olds and their participation was spotty. I think this was due more to the dojangs reputation for being quite hard in it's training, not necessarliy because of the techniques themselves.

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#159708 - 06/24/05 04:18 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: KiDoHae]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
Oh geeze, you mean it's OK for a dojo to have a reputation for being a little tough these days. I thought you could get sued for that just kidding, glad to hear your in Hapkido!
_________________________
The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

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#159709 - 06/24/05 09:43 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: schanne]
KiDoHae Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 06/29/04
Posts: 999
That I would be, Schanne.

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#159710 - 06/25/05 01:19 AM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: KiDoHae]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:


"aiki" does tend to involve fine motor skills and there is a sublety to the physical movements that could be lost on younger folks.





It does and it doesn't. It has been said that aikido is based on "natural" movement. When the movements are big and expansive, you are using gross motor skills. As you become more proficient, the movements become smaller (more subtle), but with the same expansive "feeling". However, this subtlety takes many years to develop. IMVHO, attempting to teach this level of subtlety to younger folk is counter-productive, and not as much fun (for them).

Quote:


eyrie seems to have done OK with his little guys which is the flip side my old sensei's.





Perhaps it's because I make it fun, play with them and take ukemi for them, rather than actually "teaching" them something in the direct sense of the word. By doing the ukemi for them, I am imparting to them indirectly the "feeling". The same way my teacher and sempai have imparted their knowledge to me.

I do this with all my students, young or old. They get to throw me (or put a lock on me) so they can feel what it feels like when they get it "right". Sometimes they don't understand, or maybe they do, but they really don't (yet). One day they will get it though - I hope soon, before I'm too old to get thrown around by them.

But having said that, every teacher is different, and imparts their knowledge in different ways.

Quote:


In my hapkido dojang there were only a few 16 or 17 year olds and their participation was spotty. I think this was due more to the dojangs reputation for being quite hard in it's training, not necessarliy because of the techniques themselves.




This comment is by no means a slight on the dojo/dojang, or on the way the teacher teaches. Every art is different (even though the similarities stand out in stark constrast). But perhaps most martial arts are based on the premise of learning how to "fight" (and in the process defend yourself).

Aikido (qualifier: as I understand it), by contrast, teaches one how not to fight, by learning to how play nicely (read "harmony"). After all, it is not all about learning how to lock and throw someone....

I teach my kids how to play nicely, and in the process, they are also learning essential martial skills of standing, footwork, body positioning, ukemi (breakfalling), sensitivity, and breath extension - all of which only require gross motor coordination skills.

O'Sensei created the art of aikido so that everyone, male or female, young or old, could participate - on their own terms and according to their abilities. The question of course, is whether or not one chooses to teach a specific age group or not, and if so, WHAT would one teach that could be reasonably be called "aikido".

FWIW,

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#159711 - 06/25/05 08:30 AM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: eyrie]
KiDoHae Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 06/29/04
Posts: 999
Excellent post eyrie, as always.

For the record, I have no opinion about when children might start either way. In your case you seem to have the right approach with your kids (and everyone else).

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#159712 - 07/08/05 11:09 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: KiDoHae]
Carbone Offline
Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 161
Loc: New York
Yeh this is a good question, I'm currently 15 and wanted to begin aikido but felt i was too old for the art to begin.

Always admired Steven Seagal, but seriously I'm not so sure he could use those skills in real life not choreographed for the movie.

Takes too long to learn for me I'd rather stick to something more immediately useful like Kickboxing, Muay Thai or like JuJitsu even.
_________________________
-Carbone

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#159713 - 07/09/05 01:20 AM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: Carbone]
katsuhayai05 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 49
Loc: florida
I started aikido at 15 believe me now is a better time then any. You'll develop skills that will help you much more in any other arts that you'll take in the future then if you took another martial art now.

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#159714 - 07/13/05 01:21 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: katsuhayai05]
JoelM Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 6355
Loc: Georgia, USA
http://www.competitorschoice.com/children's%20martial%20arts%20books.htm

First book on the list..anybody seen/read it?

Just putting another spark into the conversation, nothing to add on my part.

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#159715 - 07/13/05 03:19 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: JoelM]
KiDoHae Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 06/29/04
Posts: 999
Good for you Joel!

Came accross this book too but not read it. It was one of the reasons I asked the question.

I have come the conclusion that I am firmly ambivalent on the subject.

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#159716 - 07/13/05 09:12 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: KiDoHae]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Thanks for the link Joel. Haven't read that book. But I have the one by Gaku Homma. It's not too bad, has some good ideas in it. What I do is use the resources to glean info and ideas and work out ways to apply the principles.

I think teaching kids is generally easier than adults (mainly coz kids are much more play focused than adults). It also depends on the child. The problem is, I talk to my kids like they're teenagers. Whereas some kids don't have that kind of interaction experience from their parrents. So it really depends on the kid.

I've also refused to teach certain kids on occasion, mainly because I feel that they do not have the necessary mental, physical, emotional (or sometimes spiritual) capacity to learn the art. The Founder may have had lofty ideals and intentions of the enjoyment of his art by all, but I run a small dojo for my own personal enjoyment, so I can afford the luxury of who I choose to teach or not.

Discriminatory, maybe. But certainly not ambivalent.

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#159717 - 11/25/05 10:14 AM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: eyrie]
ChuckM Offline
Newbie

Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 13
Loc: Laporte, IN USA
With the kids I teach, I concentrate on first helping to build their character, then the physical. We work on kicks, punches, break-falls and rolls. Kind of a variation of karate, tae kwon do, and aikido. The youngest I prefer to teach are about 8 years old.
We don't teach joint locks and such at that age. We do escapes and such and ki exercises...things that they can find fun and keep their attention. I have been working on a belt structure that I hope to be able to institute soon. It goes up to the rank of red belt, but no child will receive the rank of black below the age of 15

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#159718 - 11/25/05 07:54 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: ChuckM]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Hi Chuck, welcome to the forums. Thanks for the enlightening input.

I've also found that to be the case - aikido as traditionally taught is wholly unsuitable for kids under a certain age. The youngest in my class is 10. I'm not counting my boys (7 and 8) as they have been rolling with me since age 4.

I also feel that the way you are teaching is more suited for that age group 8-15. I've also found that those methods (kick, punch, step, turn, breakfall, roll, escape, etc.) are definitely more appropriate for that age group. In fact, lately, I am more of the opinion that these should form the core fundamental of basic training for all beginners, irrespective of age. Are you of the same opinion?

All the best with the belt structure. Look forward to more of your contributions.

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#159719 - 11/25/05 08:08 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: eyrie]
ChuckM Offline
Newbie

Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 13
Loc: Laporte, IN USA
Definetely eyrie. My instuctor does not work with anyone under the age of 18. His dojo is very small and he only likes to work with a few people at a time. At our recent seminar, we had a whole of 8 people! None under the age of 22 I believe.

I do like working with the kids. Helping a kid that has been diagnosed with ADHD to focus on what he is doing. To perform a kata without being distracted. Teaching them to roll and fall without injury. I have a few parents actually give up taking the kids to gymnastics. I do not put concentration on tournaments and have not attended or participated in one for years. (Bad taste in my mouth for the way kids were pushed to fight with extreme ferocity).

Thanks for the kind words and welcome eyrie. I don't know how much I really have to contribute, but I will always do my best to provide an informed, honest opinion. Domo.

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#159720 - 11/25/05 08:22 PM Re: Youngest appropriate starting age for Aikido [Re: ChuckM]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
I agree. Competition tends to detract from the real purpose of learning MA. One can certainly obtain better results thru various other means, other than thru competition.

After all, the Latin root of competition means "to strive together".

As long as you're sharing your informed, honest opinion, you are contributing....

Once again, welcome.

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