Youth Program

Youth in Twin Cities Aikido

Children before class

The Twin Cities Aikido youth program is an excellent introduction to the defensive art of Aikido. Students learn basic techniques, as well as physical coordination and mental discipline.  Students learn some basic Japanese, appropriate dojo etiquette, and respect for tradition. Emphasis is placed on respect for each other, self-confidence, and cooperation between partners. Generally, the classes consist of students from seven to sixteen years of age. Parents are invited to take part in the youth classes for a low monthly fee or can sit and watch. There is a ranking system that includes testing to earn different colored belts.

Getting Started

If you are a beginner to Aikido or someone who wants to see what it’s about before you decide to join, the following will help you get started:

Aikido is a Martial Art. A martial art is a system of defending yourself against an attack. In class you work with different partners. Your partner is not an opponent;  you and your partner work together to learn the Aikido techniques.

Your first class: Please complete a registration form of basic information (name, address, etc.). You and your parents will sign a waiver which serves as a reminder that you will practice safely and not sue the dojo if you are injured.
Following is a video giving you some idea about what to expect for your first class.

Bow in

Uniform: This is called a gi. It is loose-fitting pants and jacket that allow you to easily stretch and bend. If you do not have a gi, please wear loose-fitting pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt. Sweats are perfect to wear. These will allow you to move freely and protect your elbows and knees. The dojo sells gis if you’d like to buy  one.

Discipline and etiquette: These are very important  in Aikido practice. Please pay attention to the following instructions:

– Bowing. Very important! When you enter the dojo, bow to the picture of O Sensei, the founder of Aikido, which is hanging on the shrine (kamiza) adjacent to the mat . This is a way of showing respect and gratitude to our dojo, our Founder’s memory, our Instructors, and our training partners.*  Bow any time you enter or leave the room.

Remove you shoes. Keeping the dojo clean is important. After taking off your street shoes, keep your socks on, or put on a different shoe that will only be worn in the dojo. Most people use sandals of flip flops.

Getting onto the mat before class. Remove your sandals or socks. Kneel (sit in Seiza) at the edge of the mat facing our founder, O’Sensei, and bow toward his picture. Wait for class to start. If you are late to class, sit and bow at the edge of the mat and wait for the Instructor (sensei) to invite you on the mat. Once you’ve been invited to join the class bow again to sensei. When it is time to work on a technique, find a partner, bow and ask them to practice with you. When you are finished practicing a technique, always thank your partner. There is more to etiquette, but this is a good start.

Youth class instructors

 Vickie, Robert and Pete teach the classes assisted by various other adults. When these instructors are teaching on the mat, always address them as “Sensei” as in Sensei Vickie, Sensei Robert, or Sensei Pete. There are often other adults on the mat during class to help you. Listen to them very carefully. Safety is extremely important and is everyone’s responsibility. Beginners will first learn how to safely roll and take falls. Each class starts with exercises to get your muscles warmed up, get ready to practice and have fun learning techniques with your partners.

Youth Instructors, l to r: Pete D, Vickie S, Robert G
Youth Instructors, l to r: Pete D, Vickie S, Robert G

Classes are held Saturday mornings at 10 AM and Thursday evenings at 6 PM. Once you have paid your monthly dues, you are welcome to come to as many classes as you can. Please come to class 10 – 15 minutes before class starts to have time to change and bow in by the time class is ready to start. The more classes you attend regularly, the better you will learn Aikido. Once you have practiced the required number of hours and have learned certain techniques, you may test for different ranks and earn different colored belts.

Dues are $25 per month for the first child, $20 per month for the second child. Parents can participate in youth classes with their child for $20 per month. If parents wish to participate in other adult classes, the adult monthly fees apply.   Dues should be paid by the first class of the month.

See you on the mat!

Video about Aikido for children

For more information about youth in Aikido.

* from USAF new student guide

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Aikido practice in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota