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Why Aikido is good for kids | Attitude | Commitment | Calmness as Relaxed Readiness | Photo's

Aikido Training for Children

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see class time and prices for more details.

Although adults might practice Aikido to develop inner peace, relaxation, or self-defence, most children don't even think about these concepts. So why is Aikido a good idea for kids?

Welcome to Northside Aikido - Setsudo Dojo Caboolture, and thank you for considering Ki Aikido as a martial art for your child. As you are entrusting us with an important aspect of your child's education I would like you as parents or guardians to consider some of the following questions:

1. Why do you wish you child to do a martial art and what do you expect your child to gain from doing Aikido? (to help improve their self-confidence and self esteem or to fight with other children?).

2. What do you know about Aikido and why did you choose it? - Is discipline an aspect your child is familiar with?

I will strive to ensure that each child has a positive experience in the dojo and that they achieve better communication skills, greater self esteem and respect for themselves and others. The atmosphere will be relaxed, fun and challenging for your child. I do ask that after you have dropped your child off to give them a hug and kiss goodbye and return for them after class. On special occasions when out of town guest or visitors are here or when the children are grading, attendance will be permitted.

The information below will give you a basic idea of what Aikido training in about and provide details of the etiquette expected at Setsudo Dojo. Behind the concept of etiquette, lies a far deeper meaning than first seems apparent. The respect and courtesy required when practicing Aikido encourages a growing sensitivity to our environment and the way we relate with others. It fosters an atmosphere of caring and trust, so that each child can meet challenges in safety, without fear. Though we strive to ensure that injuries do not occur, there is always the possibility of injury during any physical activity.

Please provide a contact number and be aware that we will seek medical attention for your child if required. (It is extremely rare that we have had an injury requiring medical attention in the children's class)

The term fees apply and payment should be made prior to of no later than the first class of the term. We are required by the guidelines of the national organisation, Australian Aikido Ki Society to have each new student and their parent/guardian sign a disclaimer. A training uniform (gi) should not be purchased until the child has made a serious commitment to aikido training. I suggest that the child attends 4 - 6 classes prior to the purchase of a gi and that they make a serious commitment to continue aikido training. A gi costs around $50.00. Please support the dojo by purchasing any requirements you have from the Sensei.

Teaching young children Aikido can be very demanding. Commitment is necessary from both the children and the parents if they are to benefit and understand the basics of Aikido. Please ensure that children arrive and depart class promptly. Please do not hesitate to bring to my attention any concerns or problems your child may be having. Please speak to me before or after class or phone me on 0419 778 486.

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Why Aikido training is good for children.

Adults may practice aikido for inner peace, relaxation, or self-defence. But these are concepts that most children don't even think about. So why is aikido a good idea for kids? What can it contribute to their lives?

Aikido is a non-aggressive martial art. What does this mean? Basically, that you can't really start a fight with aikido - you can only finish one. It doesn't encourage kids to have Power Rangers Syndrome, in which they go around punching and kicking their friends, siblings, dogs and cats. Aikido technique starts when someone else 'breaks the rules', i.e. attacks.

Aikido teaches kids to be calm. Of course, kids shouldn't be calm all the time. But, aikido gives them the choice. If they need to sit still at school, or concentrate on homework, or focus during sports, aikido shows them exactly how to do that. The techniques and ki testing we do teach them correct calmness. This is entirely different from keeping their emotions bottled up. Aikido calmness feels good.

Aikido helps kids at school. By training, kids develop calm, clear minds. As a result, they absorb knowledge easier, and think with greater clarity. Aikido is about developing the full human potential, and school is one of the most important places for this potential to be realised.

Aikido teaches kids practical self-defence. They can use aikido to take away a bully's balance and safely pin them. This prevents further trouble that they might get into if the only defence they have is kicking or punching. Anyone can be good at aikido. Aikido does not require athletic talent. In fact, athletic prowess can sometimes get in the way. It works for little people, since it does not rely on size, or speed, or weight. The key to making progress in aikido is simply persevering and having a positive attitude. What better lesson can we teach our kids?

Aikido gives kids a positive worldview. It teaches that in order to create something worthwhile, you must work in harmony with your environment. It teaches that if you make trouble, you will lose. But if your mind is correct, calm, and positive, you can make something good out of whatever the universe hands you.

Aikido teaches kids a lighter approach to life. A serious approach to life doesn't feel good. And it usually doesn't yield the best possible results. Aikido works best when you relax and feel light. By learning this in practice, our children can't help but apply this to their lives.

Last but not least, aikido makes your kids tired. So hopefully, they'll go to bed a little earlier on training nights!

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Attitude

One of the first things you notice about a person is their attitude. Your attitude towards life and others is one of the most powerful generative forces on earth. If your attitude and thoughts are positive, your life will reflect positive results.

When you see a person who has a proper attitude it tells you that their energy is positive. Positive attitude produces enthusiasm which in turn generates energy. Positive-thinking people accomplish more life goals because they expect positive results. Belief creates the actuality. You create your own reality.

Another way attitude plays a big part in your life is how you handle problems. Everyone has problems, but with a good attitude problems become challenges. Accept problems and use them to make you stronger. When you experience a setback, say to yourself, "That's not like me, I'll do better next time."

It's never too late to change your attitude. When you give up and stop caring, you lose the harmonious balance of mind and body; you begin to work against your own best interests.

One way you can change your attitude is to adopt a spirit of thankfulness. Many people think only of what they want or don't have. Instead, focus on what you do have. Be thankful for your food, clothing, shelter and for the people who appreciate and love you.

Treasure your time. Most people live their lives as if they have all the time in the world. Think about how much time is wasted on projects which are not of value to you or society. You must realise that what you do affects the universe as a whole.

Begin and end the day being grateful for the opportunities you are given to learn. Think of each day as if it were your last. Remind yourself of this constantly, and you will realise that some things are not so important anymore.

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Commitment

  • Had a tough day at school?
  • Got too much on your mind?
  • Feeling kind of down?
  • Too tired?
  • Too many things to do?
These are all good reasons to take class today.

As soon as you decide to do that, your day will change. Maybe just a little bit, maybe a lot. By the time you have packed your gi and are on your way to the dojo, your own personal ritual for transformation has begun.

The trip to the dojo, for instance, can be used to process the day and let it go. With each step, let your problems drop away. Each door you close behind you separates you from the difficulties of the day. Changing from your street clothes to your gi is a particularly effective tool. Shed your troubles with your clothes and step into a "fresh new you" when you put on your gi. By the time you reach the mat, whether you are aware of it or not, the transformation is well advanced.

Before embarking on the practice of Aikido you should be committed to training at least two or three times per week. A person cannot properly learn the art without consistent and diligent practice.

It will not be easy! There will be times when you will not want to train: you must be able to stand behind your commitment.

To attain that condition of being in which philosophy, technique, attitude and spirit merge requires consistent, sincere practice. There are no shortcuts!

When there is no longer a distinction between daily life and the practice of Aikido we truly will be following the "Way of Harmony".

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Calmness as Relaxed Readiness

by William Reed Sensei

Shimizu Jirocho was the legendary "Robin Hood" figure of Japan, an undefeated swordsman whose reputation eventually earned him the highest certificate of ability from the greatest swordsman of the Meiji era (1868-1912), Yamaoka Tesshu. The Tesshu line was to have an enormous influence on ToheiSensei through misogi training at the Ichikukai, and Ki Society students will recognise the meaning of a story about Jirocho's swordsmanship.

Aware that Jirocho had never lost a fight, Tesshu asked him for his secret. Jirocho replied that there was no secret, he simply chose not to fight if he knew he would lose. When Tesshu asked him how he knew in advance whether he would win or lose Jirocho replied, "I lightly tap the tip of my opponent's sword. If it bounces off with a crack, then I know I can win. However, if the tip of the sword whips back like a willow branch, then I know I cannot win so I find a reason not to fight. "Jirocho never lost a fight because he never fought a fight he would lose. On the strength of this insight, Tesshu awarded him a kaiden certificate.

Bokken practice often begins with an exercise in which you move the sword back and forth a few times, each movement diminishing by half, until the sword maintains the vibrant stillness of a tuning fork at rest. A partner then tests the sword in the same way as Jirocho, by tapping the tip of the sword to test the response. If the return of the sword to front centre is lively, relaxed and instantaneous, this represents the imperceptible movement in stillness known as seishi, or living calmness. However, if the return of the sword is sluggish or stiff, this represents the weak and vulnerable state of teishi, or dead calmness. It takes an exceptional eye to be able to detect the difference between the two.

While the coward hides behind a mask of bravado, the truly brave person may appear too relaxed or too calm for the situation. Being calm in a crisis may mean that you don't understand the situation, or it may mean that you have had some excellent training. So similar is the outward appearance of living and dead calmness, that even an expert like Jirocho apparently felt the need to test the tip of the sword. This is certainly better than learning from experience, because experience can be fatal. It is said that experience is the worst teacher, because it gives the test before the lesson. In lieu of experience we are fortunate to have one of the best simulations ever devised, the Ki test, which clearly distinguishes between seishi and teishi. The more experience you have with Ki testing, the better you become at learning to see the difference.

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While Ki testing gives you immediate feedback on mind and body coordination, it is also important to develop a clear conceptual understanding of the difference between living and dead calmness, between relaxation and collapsation. There are many examples and analogies in nature which demonstrate how apparent stillness conceals imperceptibly rapid movement. Both a spinning top and a helicopter propeller appear to be at rest when they are moving at maximum speed. We are not even aware of the turning of the earth, and yet how quickly the sun sets when it reaches the horizon. Wind and water are some of the most powerful forces of nature, and yet we often forget their existence though we are surrounded by them.

Without any outside implements you can achieve the same effect of the calm sword through meditation. Correct your posture and rock your body from side to side a few times, letting the movement fade by half, half, half... coming to rest in vibrant stillness. After the movement has stopped, a Ki test will immediately show whether you have come to rest in a state of living or dead calmness. You cannot reduce a number by half and ever reach zero. Though the movement may become too small to see, it continues unconsciously.

Living calmness means resting with readiness. After a minute or so have someone suddenly clap to sound the signal to stand up. If you are resting ready you will move with alacrity when required. This is the same state of relaxed readiness you need to receive an attack. If it takes you a moment to gather yourself up, then you have fallen into a slackened state of rest. People complain about having to "hurry up and wait", which can lead to lethargy. It is difficult to remain calm without losing power, but it is equally difficult to remain calm in the midst of activity. The secret to maintaining calmness in action is to recognise the difference between seishi and teishi.

Students ask what they should think about when practicing calmness. Calmness can be practiced, but it must become an unconscious habit if you want to use it in daily life. Ki training leads to unconscious calmness, which frees your conscious mind to become active without losing its bearings. Most people think they are calm, but their true colours come out under stress. Relaxation and calmness are essential in enhancing performance. An excellent way to practice calmness is the relaxation exercise of rapidly shaking the fingertips. Let the movement rapidly fade until the hands appear to be at rest, but in fact are filled with Ki. Demonstrate the difference with a Ki test, and see how it makes both Aikido and Kiatsu techniques more effective.

A common metaphor for calmness used in Aikido is that of the calm still surface of the lake which reflects alike the moon and the flying bird. Clear awareness is critical to the martial arts, where misjudgment can lead to injury or death. This state of calm reflection is brilliantly portrayed in Miyamoto Musashi's painting of a lone bird's shriek on a withered branch. The eye of the bird, no than a lot of ink, reflects that same mind which could encompass a dozen opponents within a single state of awareness. In Western painting we have the Mona Lisa, whose eyes mysteriously follow the viewer as he or she moves past. Leonardo da Vinci and Miyamoto Musashi both knew that a calm mind opens a wider field of awareness. Calmness reveals the difference between seishi and teishi, between bravery and bravado, between what is real and what is fake.

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