In my early adult training we often reflected on the four basic principles of Aikido as created by the late Koichi Tohei Sensei.
- Keep one point
- Relax Completely
- Keep Weight Underside
- Extend Ki
These principles detail ideals of how your body and mind should be engaged in Aikido. They represent an ideal of execution that is applied to each and every Aikido technique. These served as inspiration for creating a code of practice for our Aiki Kids students (ages 4-6).
My goal was to set a handful of “rules” that expressed some of the key desirable behaviours needed in every class as well as some key takeaways I want our young students to have about Aikido in general.
The focus of our Aiki Kids program to help develop a strong foundation for learning Aikido or any martial art. We want students to have skills to be better learners of mind/body arts. For Aikido training to be successful, students need to be able to to work together.
In Aikido there is very little to learn without a partner. We need great partners to come at us, to share their energy, and to be able to take a fall safely. They give us an opportunity to practice a technique. If our partner is distracted and does not attack we can’t learn. If our partner after falling doesn’t get right back up we lose critical training time. Getting young children to work together can be a challenge. So a key theme amongst the “rules” is cooperation.
In addition to help our rules be memorable they needed to be:
- Easy to say
- Have some sort of rhythm to them
- Be relateable
I came up with the following:
- We practice kindness
- We help our partners
- When we fall, we get right back up
- We listen to our sensei and each other
- We learn not to fight
We start most classes by saying these aloud using a call and response approach. I say each line and the students follow. This helps new students and old engage in learning and expressing these equally. These are also lines that I can use during class to remind students of them in the context of practice.
Rituals and patterns are important in early learning experiences. This has been a nice addition to our program and something that I believe has added some affirming context to what we do.
Brooklyn Aikido Center provides training of both body and mind through the traditional Japanese martial art of Aikido and Zazen meditation. If you have any questions about our programs please email us or call us at 347-735-6744.
Interested in watching or taking a trial class? Contact us to set up a time.