Note for Kids Class Parents – September 2008
Children’s Aikido at Sokushinkan Dojo,
Vancouver Japanese Language School
Dear Aikidoka and Parents of Aikidoka:
Issho ni tanoshinde aikido o shimasho!
On behalf of Keith Taylor (dojocho) and all members of the Sokushinkan Dojo at VJLS, I welcome everyone for another school year of Yoshinkan Aikido. We are very glad to see so many students and parents return and to see new students and parents join us.
Thanks to all the parents for your support and encouragement of Yoshinkan Aikido and the Sokushinkan Dojo.
To start a new year of practice, I would like to write this letter to everyone to advise you of some new information and to remind you of some old information.
In May 2008, Keith Taylor, Greg Pun, and Chris Kearney went to St. Paul, Minn., USA, to attend a special training session with Yasuhisa Shioda Kancho and Amos Parker Shihan. Shioda Kancho is the son of the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido and the current kancho (head of all Yoshinkan Aikido). Parker Shihan (8th dan) is from Texas and is the highest ranked person in North America. Taylor Sensei received a promotion to 6th dan and Greg received his level 3 teaching certificate, which allows him to grant black belt (shodan).
In August 2008, members of Sokushinkan Dojo and Sowakan Dojo (of Maple Ridge) did a demonstration at Powell Street Festival. Also, Parker Shihan visited both dojos for 4 days of training.
Instructors for Children’s Classes
Last year, several members of Sokushinkan and Sowakan dojos served as children’s class instructors, including Jamie Clarke, Chris Kearney, Patrick McCready, Tammy Bowen, Bryan Green, and Jonathan Denney. Thank you to all of them. This year too, some of them, and others, will attend to assist or substitute for me. (I will be on vacation November 1-15).
The most frequent additional instructor will be Henry Lagas, who is a shodan. Henry has trained for more than 6 years and he has a teaching licence from Hombu Dojo in Japan. He will be at the young children (age 3-7) class with his son and nephew, and will also help in the older (age 7-13) class when possible.
Parents in Class
I would like to thank the fathers who attend class with their children and assist me with the classes. Their help is very important to the success of the classes. Thanks to Stewart Muglich, Michael Hey, and Takayuki Ono.
I also thank the mothers and fathers who sit and watch and who help supervise the children before, during, and after class.
Clothes and Hair
A dogi is not necessary, but it is useful so that all children are dressed the same. However, it can be expensive and children grow quickly. Therefore, we do not require dogi for children. But, please make sure that children wear proper clothing, especially long sweat pants (to protect knees).
Jeans, dresses/skirts, or clothes for other activities (like ballet or soccer) are not good for aikido. Plain colours (white, grey, black) are best.
Long hair must be tied so that it does not get into eyes, for safety when doing ukemi (rolls). Also, some techniques make the hair lie on the ground and there is risk that another child will step on the hair, accidentally injuring the long-haired child.
I ask parents, please, to tie hair before the child arrives at class, because there is not enough time for me to do this myself at the start of class.
Young Children (toddlers)
I have had several requests to allow very young children – under age 3 – to join the class.
Most martial art instructors, including Yoshinkan instructors, do not accept children younger than 7 year old as students. Usually, children under 7 cannot perform martial arts activities safely and correctly (since they do not even know left from right!). I have accepted age 3-7 students because of strong requests from VJLS staff and parents, because so many parents help (as I have said above), and because I think that martial arts and aikido can be good even for children under 7 years old.
I have even allowed some children younger than 3 years old to attend, if a parent is in the class with me and the child. However, there are now many more children in the class, so, with regret, I must therefore refuse all future requests to allow children under age 3 into class.
For those children who have already been permitted into the class, I think that, to be fair, I must continue to allow them to attend. But this is on the basis that a parent must be in the dojo at all times to supervise their child. If the parent is not assisting in the class, then the child cannot participate at all. I thank you for your understanding.
I am very grateful to all parents for your kind support for me and for Yoshinkan Aikido. I hope that this activity is good for you and your children. I want to make aikido safe, fun, and useful to you and your children.
Parker Shihan taught me that budo is about “becoming better
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