Aikido For Children & Youth

By Isaiah Wisdom, © Copyright 2008.

Aikido Has Helped Kids With

  • Confidence issues
  • Dealing with bullies
  • Helps children/teens avoid the traps of drugs, violence, negativity, crime and suicide
  • Improves grades
  • Improves overall performance in all things

Aikido Can Help In The Following Areas

Spirit: Aikido develops win/win philosophy… everyone wins.

Body: Aikido is physically challenging but not impossible, and it is good for strength training and weight loss.

Mind: Children & youth can understand their minds. They learn that the mind is a tool; therefore, they learn problem solving skills and mental discipline.

Emotions: Aikido is self-empowering no matter how the child or youth may feel. Children learn that emotions are tools.

Social: Aikido builds social skills using “no loser” games, teaching consensus, teamwork, cooperation and community activities.

Brief Description Of Aikido

  • Aikido is a non-violent, non-resistant martial art from Japan.
  • Aikido means unifying energy, the way of harmony.

Success With Aikido

  • Kids in group homes grow up with fear because there is no order or center in their lives. When they practice Aikido they learn about their own power. They learn to speak and act for themselves but in harmonious ways.
  • Children & youth with physical, psychological, and/or developmental challenges learn about their center and how to have real internal self-control.
  • Good athletes and high achievers become even more skilled.

Aikido Is Appropriate For Ages

  • 4 to 104

Children & Youth’s Reactions To Aikido

  • Joy
  • More confidence
  • If the child or youth is timid or frightened, they will like Aikido because it will teach them self-defense.
  • Usually children are surprised that they have so much physical power.
  • Children with developmental challenges may not know the names of the techniques, however they learn the moves and enjoy their power.

Extra Care Is Needed

  • Make sure you tell the teacher or the head instructor about old injuries and conditions.
  • Classes may have to be modified when people come with old injuries.
  • Children with developmental challenges may need Aikido sessions to be modified. For instance, a child with Down Syndrome cannot understand the esoteric practice, however they can learn basic moves and how to be non-violent.

Contraindications: When Aikido Should Be Avoided

  • Sometime parents and children misunderstand what Aikido is and think that aggressive moves are part of the practice.
  • When children, teens and parents think that Aikido is for attacking
  • If the child has certain disabilities (physical, mental or emotional) that severely impair ability to participate
  • When it is used by a child to hurt others
  • Anger/violence levels are out of control.


  • Aikido is a relatively modern martial art.
  • Historically, Aikido is derived from aggressive, Samurai, and war practices like Aikijitsu (or Aikijujitsu).
  • After World War Two, the founder, O’sensei Morihei Ueshiba, was advised by one of his teachers, Onisaburo Deguchi, to call the practice “Aikido” (O’sensei means Honored Teacher).
  • Aikido means “the way” or a way of life. The practice became one of non-resistance.
  • By the end of his life, O’sensei Morihei Ueshiba believed that Aikido should be practiced in non-violence.
  • Some people still teach a rigid form of aggressive pre-war practice.
  • It was illegal to practice martial arts in Japan after the war. Aikido was practiced in secret. It spread rapidly in the Japanese military.
  • Aikido is now practiced all over the world.
  • In Japan there are Aikido clubs in elementary and secondary schools.

Basic Concepts And Components Of Aikido

  • Attack energy or tense energy can be redirected.
  • Integrates body, mind and spirit
  • Joins with and uses the energy (attack) in order to redirect
  • Uses circular, spiraling movements instead of direct movements (kicks, punches) and blocks, reduces anger, which takes people out of the present moment and causes a loss of focus, power and judgement
  • Finding peace in chaotic situations is possible.
  • Relies on being relaxed, focused, balanced and grounded
  • Cultivates gentle power
  • Practices the loving protection of all beings

Description Of A Typical Session

  • Information about new students is taken.
  • Information is given to new students about terms and Dojo rules.
  • Sessions start with a bowing ceremony which shows respect and is a representation of the way Aikido is practiced.
  • Next is a meditation.
  • Physical warm-ups get the students ready for new teaching or review of a particular Aikido technique.
  • Practice with a Partner.
  • The lesson ends with a Misogi (purification meditation).
  • Bowing out
  • Sweep the mat/clean up.

Major Differences Of Opinion Between Practitioners

  • Some practitioners feel that Aikido is a spiritual practice, while others see it as a martial art. Some feel that Aikido is both.

Fees/Costs In 2007

Prices vary:

  • For children - $40 to $60 a month
  • For teens/adults - $40 to $60 a month

Average Time Per Session

  • One hour
  • All day seminars and camps are also available.

Recommended Length Of Time Between Sessions

  • Recommended two sessions per week

Estimated Length Of Time Before Improvements Can Be Expected

  • Four to six sessions
  • Once the child or youth is engaged with full participation, changes can be noticed.

Suggestions To Make Aikido More Effective With Children

  • Parents should not practice the moves with their children.
  • Artistic freedom
  • Positive discipline.

Other Methods That Complement Aikido

  • Tai chi and other Martial Arts
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Yoga
  • Calligraphy
  • Any activity that involves focus
  • Meditation
  • Leadership development courses
  • Any activity that involves focus

Nature And Length Of Training To Be A Practitioner

  • Practitioners are certified by their teachers going back to the founder.
  • It takes a minimum of four to six years of regular rigorous training for an adult to become a black belt. It takes longer for children.
  • Black belt is considered beginning level and is an indication of competence, but not expertise.
  • The holder of a black belt may teach classes if invited to do so by their instructor.

Special Training Needed To Work With Children & Youth

  • Knowledge of children and teaching styles
  • Behavior management skills
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Communication skills
  • Mostly, people learn how to teach kids’ classes “on the job”.
  • Look for someone who enjoys working with children.

Professional Associations To Contact For Names Of Local Practitioners

  • AikiWeb; Website: www.aikiweb.com
  • Ki Society of the U.S.; P.O. Box 75433; Seattle, WA 98125-0433; 206-527-2151; Fax: 206-522-8702; Website: www.ki-aikido.net; Email: info@ki-aikido.net

Number Of Certified Practitioners In U.S., Canada, And Mexico

  • Unknown
  • In Sonoma Country, California, there are seven dojos (training halls).

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Practitioner

  • Showing kindness
  • Moving gracefully
  • Exhibiting a sense of joy and play in their practice
  • Teaching Aikido as the opposite of aggressiveness

Resources, Research Papers, Books, DVDs, Websites

  • AikiWeb - The Source for Aikido Information: Its principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information. Website: www.aikiweb.com
  • Downloadable video (mpeg) clips of aikido in action: www.stenudd.com/aikido/video.htm


  • Stevens, John. Abundant Peace. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1987.
  • Deguchi, Kyotaro. The Great Onisaburo Deguchi. Japan: Oomoto Foundation, 1973.
  • Dobson, Terry and Jan Watson. It’s a Lot Like Dancing: An Aikido Journey. Berkeley, CA; Frog, Ltd., 1993.

Helpful Tips For Parents

  • Remind children to focus and take time each day to sit for a second to get focused or to meditate.

Biography Of Isaiah Wisdom, Author

  • Years Experience: 17
  • Approximate total number of clients who are children, or teens (in a school year): 200 children a week

Isaiah Wisdom’s Personal Statement

Aikido’s unifying principal is love.

To Contact Isaiah Wisdom, Who Contributed This Chapter

Isaiah Wisdom; 880 Piner Road, #55; Santa Rosa, CA 95403; Ph: 707-571-2013;

Web page: www.newschoolaikido.org; Email: dojocho@newschoolaikido.org

Marie Mulligan’s Comment About Aikido: The choice of teacher is often more important than the martial art form. Aikido and martial arts can improve physical confidence. It can complement Nonviolent Communication skills. My younger son and godchildren have benefited from their involvement with martial arts.

Rick Geggie’s Comment About Aikido: I have been very impressed with the effects of most of the martial arts upon children & youth. I have noticed that Aikido has the biggest effect in helping children be balanced, harmonious, and able to respond. With any martial art, children’s confidence grows, as does their coordination. One of the biggest benefits is learning to control fear and aggression. Children & youth feel safer when they feel they can defend themselves. As always, having the right teacher is very important, so make sure you feel good about who you and your child choose.

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