The Juniors Program at the Aikido Academy serves children from ages five to around ten years old. The program is designed to prepare kids for entry into the real practice of Aikido and therefore concentrates on teaching the skills necessary for a youngster to eventually feel comfortable in a mainstream martial arts class.
Juniors classes always begin with a formal opening and an extended period of warm-up and stretching followed by conditioning exercises such as jumping sticks, rolling, tumbling, various relay races and more. These activities are designed to be fun for the kids. Then, depending on the age limitations of the particular class, rudimentary techniques are taught, including usage of the proper Japanese terms, in order to give the child a familiarity with the methods and culture of Aikido that they will be learning later on. Classes always end with a group game such as roll tag followed by a formal closing.
It is not the intent of the Juniors Program to teach young children self-defense techniques before they are emotionally ready to handle them. Rather, skills such as self-discipline, physical and mental conditioning, rough-and-tumble activity and learning to physically interact with one's peers are the goal, along with less tangible values such as patience and compassion for others.
Juniors classes are taught by selected members of the Aikido Academy teaching staff. Junior members are free to attend as many classes as they wish during the week and family discounts are offered. Interested children and their parents are welcome and encouraged to drop in and watch a class any time.