Is Aikido Good For Children?

Adults may practice Aikido for stress reduction, relaxation, self-defense, its many cardio vascular benefits, or a host of other reasons. But these are concepts that most children don’t even think about or care about. So why is Aikido a good idea for kids? What can it contribute to their lives and yours? (assuming you?re a parent)

Below are just 5 of the reasons to give Aikido a try if your son or daughter has shown any interest in physical activity and specifically, martial arts training.

1) Aikido is a ?non-aggressive? martial art. What does this mean? Basically that the main principles of Aikido don?t encourage self defense at all costs. Generally speaking, Aikido classes aren?t taught with a mindset of kicking and punching your way out of conflict. In essence, you don?t really start a fight with Aikido – but you can certainly finish one. Aikido doesn’t encourage kids to emulate the Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles punching and kicking their friends, siblings, dogs, and cats. Aikido technique starts when someone else “breaks the rules”, i.e. attacks. More importantly, Aikido teaches kids that fighting is a last resort for dealing with conflicts.

2) Aikido emphasizes remaining calm, relaxed balanced. Of course, kids can?t, and shouldn’t, be calm all the time. But Aikido teaches them that they have a choice. If they need to sit still at school or concentrate on homework or focus during sports, Aikido teaches them the fundamentals of ?going within? and gives them tools to help when being calm is necessary. This is entirely different from keeping their emotions bottled up. On the contrary, Aikido calmness feels good and, in fact, the study of Aikido is the study of communication.

3) Aikido teaches kids ?practical? self-defense. I put quotation marks around ?practical? to indicate that practical for a child is completely different from practical for an adult. Striking arts like Karate and Tae Kwon Do, although very good for health and well being, give children one primary tool for dealing with conflict: aggression. If your child only knows how to kick and punch their way out of a conflict they will have a lot of difficulty dealing with the more prevalent ?attacks? life deals out: stress, bullying, verbal abuse, and disappointment. You see, if the real attacks in life don?t look like or behave anything the attacker in dojo or dojang, your child will not have the proper tools to identify and then most effectively deal with the situation.

4) Aikido gives kids a positive world view. It teaches that in order to create something worthwhile you have to have goals, a clear picture of the intended outcome and then practice, practice, practice. Aikido teaches the law of reciprocity or, what goes around comes around. If you start trouble, you?ve lost. But if your mind is correct, calm, and positive, you can make something good out of whatever life hands you. In fact, Aikido training for kids teaches that its each persons responsibility to actively look for ways to make something good out of every situation.

5) Aikido teaches to enjoy every experience in life. Children have it difficult enough with increased homework, peer pressure, demanding standards and increased dangers all around. A serious approach to life doesn’t always feel good and it usually doesn’t yield the best possible results. Aikido works best when you relax and feel light and having an outlet for your child to ?let go? and be a kid while learning valuable life skills can be a tremendous character building experience.

About the author-Blaine A. Feyen is the founder and Chief Aikido Instructor of the Toyoda Center. http://www.toyodacenter.com is West Michigan’s premiere academy for training in the Martial Arts of Aikido, Kendo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and Shinkendo. Aikido in Grand Rapids has been defined by the instructional insights taught at the Toyoda Center. Mr. Feyen spent several years as an uchideshi (live-in student) under the renowned Aikido and Zen Master, Fumio Toyoda.

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