AIKIDO YOUTH PROGRAM
The aikido classes for children at Litchfield Hills Aikikai are based on a curriculum that encourages the students to learn not only basic aikido techniques, but also a variety of both physical and mental skills and principles. A strong emphasis on etiquette and respect for tradition is observed as the children work with their peers, practicing self-defense drills while maintaining a keen awareness of blending, non-violence, and conflict resolution. Aikido-related games are used to allow the class to build group cooperation, to focus on fitness, and to tackle what can be challenging concepts in a way that is both easy to interpret and emulate. The principal of aikido trains the whole person, focusing on the balance between the body, mind and spirit. For children, mastery of one of these elements does not take precedence over the others; this leads to feeling successful and empowered by their aikido experience.
Testing requirements in the LHA youth program are based on attendance, absorption, mindfulness, attitude, repect and individual quality of technique. The classes are not separated by rank, but rather the whole class works together on the curicculum, and stripe and belt tests follow after focusing a series of weeks based on a theme or specific technicques.
In addition to aikido's focus on self-defense, there is a strong component of ukemi, the art of falling or receiving a technique. A large emphasis is placed on learning forward rolls, back falls, back rolls, and other ways in which to recover from losing one's balance in a safe and productive manner.
The skills learned at aikido extend beyond the dojo, as they are transferable to relationships with family members and peers, school experiences, the ability to understand, relate and to self-protect. From focusing on posture to slithering like snakes across the mat, every opportunity to build self confidence and inner strenght while caring for others is explored.
The strong philisophical componenet of aikido is approached through fun tasks such as writing haiku to express a quilaity about aikido, creating word poems based on terms and prinicipals, working in teams to create aikido "skits", and and group discussions.