Our older, experienced students become positive role models and are fully involved in helping to run our classes. They begin by teaching and mentoring individuals and graduate to leading small training groups. Ultimately, teens can lead the entire class for all or part of a session. Teaching clearly deepens their understanding of Aikido and builds confidence and strong interpersonal skills. Doing meaningful work side by side with adults is highly motivating for the older kids, and conversely, younger children are motivated by the mentoring from the older ones.
To further expand their sense of responsibility, all experienced Sierra teens have frequent opportunities to do community service. The even flow of teens with a common purpose, working across socio-economic levels and programs, breaks down stereotypes and helps integrate our diverse community.
Parents are welcome to volunteer as well.
Because Aikido is innately non-combative and cooperative, the win / win paired training is repeated, physical practice of the give-and-take of positive personal interactions. Sensing and blending with a partner's motions, rather than opposing them, improves the ability to give more grounded responses to confrontation.
Calm, purposeful focus emerges as students are empowered with self-directed learning skills, plus time and space to apply them every week. As they progress, the newfound ability to move well creates a healthier body image. Once they have absorbed some basics, students begin to teach younger kids and less experienced peers. As they mentor others, even the shyest students soon come out of themselves, and their self-esteem grows.
Over time students also absorb abstract Aikido concepts as they are able, depending on their age and level of experience. Each learns these concepts through the body during practice, as well as in discussion with the class. Over time students learn to:
As students learn the English and Japanese Aikido terms for movement and training etiquette, there is an opening to include study of Japanese culture. Sierra broadens the study to include all cultures, especially those represented in our diverse membership.
Our students often do school projects using topics relating to their Aikido training. We place a high value on this kind of interdisciplinary and self-motivated study and offer our support.
Sierra's curriculum emphasizes quality and clarity of movement, rather than memorization of many complex techniques and forms. Through traditional Aikido training and Aikido-related games every single Sierra child and teen can do Aikido well and develop transferable skills and confidence to do any sport or martial art.
Sierra Aikido has adapted training for those who are not yet physically active. Exercise is easier to sustain over time if it's fun. Although athletic children and teens enjoy Aikido training too, we've found that kids who are not motivated by sports especially enjoy the art and stick to the training.
Any child or teen who is ready to begin moderate aerobic, weight-bearing exercise is welcome. No previous training is needed, and it's not necessary for students to "get in shape" first. Each trains at his or her own pace, building strength and stamina gradually and comfortably with the support of friendly, experienced kids and instructors. In fact, the training for all our students, age 5 to 70+, is self-paced. Everyone fits in.
Note: Fitness is a family affair! Children and teens are more likely to remain physically active if their parents join them on the mat for Parent-Child classes.
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