Our Head instructor is no longer employed by St. Louis Ki Aikido. With limited time, he will continue much of his teaching and management work on a volunteer basis. From 2001 to 2007 St. Louis Ki Aikido Kids Aikido Program was at its peak with 8 kids classes per week at three locations, summer camp sessions and more. While our Head Instructor was the primary teacher and manager, the kids program was also dependent on volunteer assistants and teachers. The loss of key volunteers, the loss of major grant funding and the broad economic recession have changed quite a few things with our school.
In the past few years the program has not been everything it should be. It's time to work on changing that. We will be recruiting and training volunteers. We will be developing a new marketing/outreach plan. We will also explore the possibility of collaboration with other organizations and schools. Through these efforts we want to develop the size and number of classes makes the program exciting and successful. We may even return to having classes for two age groups.
We hope to come back with a greatly improved Kids Aikido Program as soon as possible. Part of our mission is to provide training for children.
Children are often told to "calm down" and to "pay attention", but seldom shown how or why. We teach children how to calm down and show that calmness is a source of power. Paying attention is one way of doing what we call "extending ki", which connects us with other people and the space around us. Learning calm attentiveness through specific exercises is the most basic training in Ki-Aikido. Practice improves children's ability to respond positively in all situations.
Students enjoy the movement, tumbling and rolling exercises taught in every class. They learn to enjoy cooperation and to have fun without competing. They develop greater trust in themselves and in others. A combination of work and play make the practice truly "artful" (at least that's what one child old decided). Classes for Children ages 9 to 13 are conducted in sessions that are 6 to 7 weeks long. Most classes are 50 or 60 minutes long. Students may attend 1 or 2 classes each week during the session. Changes in schedule may occur due to holidays and special events.
Classes are conducted in the most appropriate way for the students' age and experience. Students learn the applicable techniques necessary for rank testing. Meditation and breathing exercises are used in training with students of all ages.
While our official age span for Kids Aikido is 9 to 13, we have a few students who are 13 and 14. Some of these teens prefer to start training in the Kids program. Some started at a younger age and have continued in the kids program. Some train in both Kids and Adult classes. At this age it really depends on the comfort level of each individual child, and we want to accommodate each individual in the best way we can. At 15 it is usually best for students to train in the adult classes. With regular training starting at that age, they could be ready for black belt testing as early as age 17 (the youngest allowed). Black belt testing is the same for all ages. On the test, students will be demonstrating techniques with adults and will engage in a free style with four adult black belts attacking at the same time (or at least trying to). At least a couple of years working with adults are needed to perform at this level.
Summer Samurai is designed to be a 5-day program consisting of five 45 to 75 minute classes. The classes typically run from Monday through Friday. Each class builds on the material that was presented in previous classes. The children are taught the basics of Aikido. This includes basic movement and posture, rolling exercises, calmness and relaxation training, and one or two Aikido techniques. On Friday the participants learn movements with wooden practice swords and see some advanced Aikido.
Summer Samurai is appropriate for ages 7 and up. It is best if he age range of the participants span no more than 4 years. This allows the training to be adjusted to the developmental level of the children. Because of safety concerns when working with wooden practice swords, children who are judged by the instructor as too undisciplined will not be allowed to participate in the Friday class. However, this is rarely a problem.
Contact Mark Rubbert for more information.