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Note that the following entries are the recovered content following a crash of the aikidokids.com server and backups. Some items will be missing, so please send any curriculum ideas along to the webmaster so we can recreate the list. In due course, the database functions will be working again, and users will be able to submit their own content. In the meantime, just send your description to rk-at-aikidokids.com.

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Curriculum Directory

Note that the following entries are the recovered content following a crash of the aikidokids.com server and backups. Some items will be missing, so please send any curriculum ideas along to the webmaster so we can recreate the list. In due course, the database functions will be working again, and users will be able to submit their own content. In the meantime, just send your description to rk-at-aikidokids.com.

Name Age Range Skill Focus Description, Rules, Equipment, Variations Submitter
Hotdog Bowling 8+ rolling, timing This exercise adds excitement and variation to rolling practice. Two lines form about 10 feet apart, facing each other. First person in one line does a regular forward roll towards the other line, and then "hot dog" rolls the rest of the way - trying to take out the feet of the first person in that line, who has to roll over the incoming student. That person, having rolled, continues to hot dog roll themselves towards the opposing line, creating a challenge to roll over for the next person. Variation - instead of two lines facing each other, two lines can be side by side, and the person rolling then hot dog rolls back towards their own line, and the two teams race to cycle thru some specified number of times. Larger classes can divide into multiple teams, accomodating any number of students, but individual lines should have 3-5 kids, so they don''t wait too long between rolls. AikidoKids Staff
Kid-Lead Warmups 10+ memory, respect Occasionally, consider letting the kids lead their own warmups - either one or two stretches per student and then the next kid has to think of something, or letting one kid, possibly as part of their testing that day anyway, lead the entire class thru all the warmups. All the kids will pay more attention if they think they might have to lead someday. It is also empowering to experience a group of people all doing what you tell them to do, even if Sensei is still theoretically in charge. AikidoKids Staff
Charity Project 8+ Community As a means to teach kids the aikido values of connection and compassion outside the dojo, pick a local charity and perform a fundraising event or community service project. Stuffing donated presents into holiday stockings for kids who might not otherwise get presents, help build low-income housing, clean up a nearby park or hiking trail, or arrange a visit and a demo at a local nursing home. It doesn't matter what the project is nearly as much as the spirit in which the project is performed. Many kids believe that, since they are only kids, they cannot make a major difference in other people's lives. Proving to them that they can is an incredibly powerful lesson with important long-term benefits. Mark Miller, Nashville Aikikai
Technique Spiral all lesson planning One way to simplify lesson planning, particularly in dojos where there are multiple instructors - is to post a list of techniques - one technique for each class session per month. Labeled "First Tuesday", "Third Thursday", etc., each day is assigned a specific technique - ikkyo, nikkyo, koto gaeshi, etc.. Since such a list is not specific to any month, it can be useful all year round, and serves to make sure all the major techniques get covered, and that students get a chance to work on each technique every month - gradually getting better and better at each one. AikidoKids Staff
Balloon Blend all connection, flow, softness Using balloons filled about half full (so they are still reasonably soft, and you need one for every two students), have students perform otherwise regular katate techniques (tai no henko in particular), except instead of one student grabbing the other student's wrist, have the nage palm the balloon with their hand pointing down into the hand of the uke, who's palm is up. All contact, pressure, and interaction between them is therefore forced to flow through the balloon - making any attempt to use too much force obvious (and occasionally, serving to pop the balloon). Same procedure can be used with shihonage, ikkyo through yonkyo, and any other basic technique. Two balloons allow students to try tenshinage. AikidoKids Staff
Jiyu Waza all not panicking One of the most critical skills whenever facing a stressful situation, on or off the mat, is the ability to stay centered and able to flow with all the energies involved. A small taste of this can be had during free training, or jiyu waza - where nage does not know which attack uke will be using, and uke does not know which technique nage will choose. Besides control of pacing, instructors can tailor this exercise to each student's level by limiting the variety of attacks and techniques allowed. The fundamental benefit of this training is to help the students experience, and overcome, the mind getting stuck. AikidoKids Staff
King of the Jo Rolling all Rolling, Conquering Fear

Divide training area into four lines. Lay several jo down about 8 feet apart in the first line. Lay pairs of jo, about 1 foot apart, with each pair 8 feet apart, in the second line. In the third line - have the jo pairs about 3 feet apart, and in the last line make them about 5 feet apart.

Students start on the easiest line, rolling over the jo. They then advance to the next line, and the next, until they can no longer jump and roll over the gap between the jo. Anyone who's foot or hand touches a jo has to go back to the first line. Continue until each student has rolled 10 times on each arm, or 20, or 30, etc.

AikidoKids Staff
Energy Variations 8+ technique, movement, timing

Most techniques can be performed at several energy levels. I'm used to three divisions

1] static start (uke grabs firmly or places stands hand-blade to hand-blade and then nage begins movement). Training from static emphasizes power, position, and posture.

2] Blend and Test (moving start with uke attempting to grab firmly, but nage is already in motion, but the technique finishes static, with uke checking nage's stance by pulling or pushing). Training "Blend and Test" emphasizes timing and extension.

3] Ki no Nagare, or "Ki-Flow" (movement is continuous from the beginning of a technique thru its end and into the start of the next). Training Ki no Nagare emphasizes connection and movement.

All three are valid ways to practice, and it seems important for students to experience each of them. Which variety to use on any given day may be determined by experience (static for new students, ki-flow for the most advanced, etc.) or simply by the existing energy level of the class (train static to calm a boisterous class, train ki-flow to energize the timid, etc.).

AikidoKids Staff
Tai Sabaki all following directions, footwork, technique Footwork drills can be adapted for all ages and skill levels. Students line up in a single row along one edge of the mat. I use six movements: step forward, step backward, advance (slide forward keeping same foot in lead), retreat (slide backward keeping same foot in rear), pivot, and change positions (change hanmi). Begin by teaching each movement separately. Next, pair movments (step forward/backward, advance/retreat, pivot/change). Finally, call movements in random order, increasing the speed. I usually keep going until everyone messes up, including me and we all start laughing. One can use Japanese names for some of the movements - e.g. Irimi (slide forward on front foot), Tenkan (step back with front foot), Kaiten (rotate on feet so you face the other way), etc. AikidoKids Staff
Energy Levels all technique, movement, timing It is important to blend not just with a partner's attack - a punch, grab, or strike, but with the energy and pace of that attack as well. Using a scale of 1 (slow methodical static training) to 10 (full-speed no-hold's barred training) - have partners train first at specific energy levels that you call out. This lets them mutually "calibrate". The second part of the training is to tell half the class what energy level to use with their partners, and then have the other half of the class guess what the assigned number was. AikidoKids Staff
Guest Instructor all technique variations, enthusiasm No matter how good an instructor someone may be, it is always a useful exercise to bring in someone else as a guest instructor occasionally. Bringing a new perspective onto the mat helps kids understand that there is no "one correct way" to perform technique, and that they have not somehow failed if they cannot seem to perform a techniques exactly how their regular instructor does. Kids also learn more when they are pushed out of their comfort zone just a little bit. It may well be that they have been taking their regular instructor for granted, and will appreciate him or her more after the guest instructor leaves. Bringing in a guest instructor also allows you to plug the gaps, if any, in your program - some instructors, for instance, may have the experience, but not the knees, required to whip around the mat in shikko or perform effortless and elegant suwari waza. If so, bringing in a ringer for a class every so often exposes the kids to suwari techniques without causing the regular instructor to hobble around for days afterward. AikidoKids Staff
Cross-Dojo Training 9+ technique variations, enthusiasm, Kids, like adults, often learn more when pushed up to the edge of their comfort zone. Training with the same kids in each week's class is fun - but can be "comfortable" in the sense that the level of challenge is damped down. Arranging with the teacher of a nearby dojo to shake things up a little by having the students of both classes train together allows everyone a good mix of the familiar and the new. These cross-dojo training opportunities can be a single class, a special one-day seminar, or even a week-long gasshuku during the summer. Many adult students go to seminars regularly, and find them enormously beneficial. Seminars for kids have the potential to be even more valuable, as so much more is actually new to them. AikidoKids Staff
Halloween Training 7-16 Fighting off Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Knife-wielding Psychos On the training day just before, or on, Halloween - encourage kids to come in costume (or those parts of their costume they can roll in without hurting themselves). Curriculum for the day is how to respond to the various monsters they may well encounter while trick or treating. Looking at the classic attack for each kind of monster, choose an appropriate technique in response, and train. In our dojo, we assume Zombies are staggering forward trying to grab your neck or shoulders with both hands (ryo-kata), and we respond with the basic randori blend. Vampires, as we all know, are trying to bite your neck, so we train for Ushiro kubi shime (one wrist grab and choke, from behind) - usually responding with escape and sankyo. Werewolves usually attack with a swinging claw, which can be led into shihonage, and Knife-wielding Psychos usually attack Shomen or Yokomen - to which Ikkyo or Gokyo are usually the best responses. Enjoy! AikidoKids Staff
Sword strikes 8+

technique, posture, extension, focus, enthusiasm

Weapons are inherently exciting, and care must be taken to maintain appropriate levels of discipline and focus whenever students have large wooden sticks in their hands. Because so many Aikido techniques are derived from sword work, teaching kids how to use bokken (or vacuum cleaner tubes or other safe alternative), can help them with their empty hand techniques. Besides learning to focus and extend power, how to move fluidly without raising one's shoulders, and how to connect to one's own center, sword work is one of the few parts of an aikido curriculum that a motivated student can practice at home (assuming they have high enough ceilings). Bokken also have a wonderful way of telling you if you're moving correctly: If a student does 100 sword cuts, and their arms feel on fire and like they are about to fall off, then they were not relaxed, nor were they drawing power from their center. If each felt focused and crisp, and their arms merely feel warm, then they were swinging correctly. AikidoKids Staff
Unbendable Arm all focus, energy, power, confidence, rolling A basic Aikido concept, experiencing the Unbendable Arm can be surprisingly effective at convincing a timid student that they are, in fact, strong enough to handle the forward roll. Students pair up, and one rests his or her arm upon the other's shoulder (ELBOW POINTED DOWN!). The student first makes as tight a fist as possible, and is told not to let his or her arm bend - while the other student lays his two arms across the first student's elbow and tries to bend the arm. Usually the arm is bent quite easily. The next step is to have the first student open the hand and imagine that the arm is a fire hose pouring water on some object in the distance. It is important that they look out to where the water is going, rather than paying any attention to the student right in front of them trying to bend their arm. This "firehose" arm is much stronger and usually cannot be bent. For dramatic effect, you can have another student hang on the arm in question, just to show how strong it is. AikidoKids Staff
Kid-Ready Randori 8+ staying centered Randori, or multiple attacker training, is inherently chaotic and intense. It is also perhaps the most thrilling aikido to perform. Without appropriate supervision, beginners could easily injure themselves or their partners - this is true of both adults and children. There are a number of safe ways to introduce randori training into a kid's program, but care must always be taken that the energy level of the training does not slip out of control. One way to control the pace of randori is for the instructor to be the nage, who can therefore pace the throws to match each kid's skill level. Besides it being a thrill for the kids to try to "get" the teacher, it is a good way to reward the more advanced students, or that day's best-behaving students, etc. Alternatively, each student can take turns standing in the middle of a circle of all the students, all of whom attack at 3 second intervals, with the sensei poised to clap the exercise to a halt if anything is about to become dangerous. If the class has enough students to make more than one such circle, each circle should be monitored by an instructor or capable assistant. AikidoKids Staff
Teen Samurai Challenge 12+ advanced ukemi, weapons work Teen Samurai Challenge is a twice-monthly invitation-only advanced class with both on-mat and off-mat components. The on-mat training is whatever more challenging techniques, high-falls, or weapons work they are ready for, ideally in a full 90 minute session that allows reasonable depth. The off-mat component is meant to nurture the students connection to each other and to aikido. The logistics may be challenging, but in our dojo the teen students join their teacher at his nearby warehouse for pizza and samurai movies after the special Friday afternoon training. Having the sensei live a few blocks from the dojo helps, but with enough adult involvement, transportation to the off-mat location should be manageable. Dojos with no adult class that evening could host both components. Our students get a supervised night out with aikido friends, get to watch cool swordfights, and have a chance to start thinking of themselves as warriors in training. Parents provide $15 to cover the costs of pizza and drinks, and typically pick their kids up at a reasonable 10pm. The invitation-only status of the class helps make the advanced training "cool" even in a teen's jaded eyes, and thus helps retain older students who might otherwise be pulled away from training by their non-aikido peer's desire to hang out on street corners and act like, well, teenagers . . . AikidoKids Staff
Juggernaut all intro to new techniques The Juggernaut is a mythical giant who can walk through anything. He/She doesn't go around, He/She goes through! The younger the age, the more I emphasize imaginary story to the game, they are magic trees in the forest where the juggarnaut walks, etc. Set-up: Children spread out all over the mat and stand in a hamni. At its most basic, the sensei lumbers like a giant with arms out and hands together towards children. Instead of getting run over, they blend by turning. Youngest children simply turn their bodies any way that gets them out of the way, as children get older/more advanced, use this format to reinforce specific blends like tenkan, irimi, two step turn. If children don't get out of the way, they kneel down into a ball and stand up again after 20 seconds. I call this turning into a seed. BE SNEAKY! Emphasize awareness by walking around the mat without aiming for anybody and then turning suddenly to run someone over. Children learn to always point their front at you when they think you might run into them at any moment. Children often start turning way before you can crash into them, and this is an opportunity to teach timing. As children get used to the format, you can use it to introduce basic techniques and get a chance to sneak in some one on one teaching before group training. I do this by introducing new creatures like "THE CLAW" (katate dori and sometimes ushiro ryokata dori) or "The Lumberjack" (shomenuchi, yokomen, and slash) Obviously individual teaching works best with smaller groups. For additional challenge, use multiple juggernauts (assistant/co-teachers, parents, etc.) John Benner, Two Hearts Aikido
Street Clothes Conversation all tactics, thoughtfulness Sometimes the students are all together, but no one can train because the mat is being repaired, teacher forgot their dojo key, or rain moved another group into the space normally used for Aikido. One of the best ways to bring everyone's thoughts together in a useful way is to ask for volunteers to describe situations where they've gotten into fights, or felt threatened, or wanted to hurt someone else. After they've told their story, elicit thoughts from the other students about how "aikido" the students response was, and what other choices might have been present in the situation just described. Encourage everyone to have their say - talking stick style - and then listen to the next story. The experience of being heard, being supported, and being given choices for next time helps kids realize that aikido doesn't only happen inside the dojo, and that it has the potential to really help them navigate thru the tough spots each of them occasionally faces. Next class, hopefully on the mat as normal, will be taken that much more seriously. AikidoKids Staff
Book of Five Rings training 10+ groundedness, flow Musashi's Five Rings are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Void. The exercise is to perform a technique (say yakute dori ikkyo) in the spirit of each of these elements in turn. For Earth, move slowly and deliberately, with extreme precision. For Water, emphasize the flowing technique made possible by relaxing the hips and shoulders. For Fire, use kiai, atemi, and a strong entering motion. For Air, focus on smooth motion and gentle contact. For Void - use tenkan to blend out of the way of the attack, making the partner fall into the emptiness you create by moving out of where they expected you. Students can do sets of ten (left and right side versions of each element), and then can, in unison as a class, do whichever version sensei calls out. (There is much more to Frager Sensei's 5 Rings curriculum, he even has a DVD of it if you're interested: http://www.keiganproductions.com/products.html ) courtesy of Robert Frager, 7th Dan
Summer Camp 8+ new friends, lots of fun This will be our 33rd year helping run a traditional sports camp, one where we've been able to add Aikido to the list of many activities (mostly sports, but also climbing, boating, craftshop, etc.). We are convinced there are no better places for kids to grow up, meet new friends, learn new skills, and become thoughtful people than a well-run summer camp. When picking camps for your kids, or recommending them to your students - look for ones where they can keep up with their Aikido training in the midst of everything else they're doing. AikidoKids staff
Aikido & Academia all open mindedness, physicality, integration

One way to get Aikido out into the world is to add Aikido to something you are already teaching. Thus you could teach "Conflict Resolution & Aikido" as part of a middle school or high school class, "Aikido and Ethics" to a high school or college class, etc. Such courses have been taught, are taught now, or are in preparation at a number of top schools (U. Chicago, Middlebury, Williams, Lehigh, Furman, etc.)

A symposium on Aikido in University Academia was held at the University of Chicago in November of 2008 - contact Aiki-Extensions or AikidoKids.com staff for more information.

AikidoKids.com would be happy to profile any such programs - particularly ones that bring Aikido into the classroom for K-12 students. Let us know about any intiatives in your school to include Aikido as part of traditional coursework, and consider taking the leap to create your own course wherever you teach presently.

AikidoKids staff
Tiny Henko all movement, awareness, technique Inspired by a very crowded seminar mat - the idea is to do Tai no Henko blends while moving in as small a space as possible. Take a few minutes to explore how little movement is actually required to take someone's balance, how small you can step and turn, how much you can accomplish just with your hips, etc. Jamie Zimron
Opening Heart all Compassion, Strength

Uke: Gyaku hanmi-katate dori

Nage: first close your heart...move your own hand toward you...(to show this physically, close your chest, shoulders, eyes down and away from partner, etc.) try pulling on them....(with obvious results and resistance)

then with an open heart...relax shoulders, open chest, lift eyes to include the partner, open your heart to this person (whatever that may mean to you), move your hand toward you.

Paul Linden
Emotions and Power all anger management

I have a person stand in a deep, strong hanmi stance, and I push on their shoulders. Then I have them say something mean or insulting to me, and they immediately lose stability. as a "control group" I have them stand in the same stance and talk about pizza, and they do not lose stability. The same experiments can be carried out with angry or jealous or arrogant statements. I usually follow it by saying you can be angry or you can be strong, but you can't be both.

Then I follow the experiment with a second experiment. I have people stand in the same stance and say something kind, and they experience that that increases their stability. What what this does is to undermine people's notions that anger and opposition are the sources of strength.

Paul Linden
4 Grab Escapes all Safety, anti-abduction

There are 4 primary ways one can get free from a same side grab. All lead the wrist out in the direction of the thumb. The first of these is to circle from inside up and outside (invoking kote gaeshi). The second is to circle from outside up and inside while blending (invoking nikkyo). The third is to turn the wrist and extend out past the thumb as in the normal Irimi exercise, and the fourth is to turn the wrist and escape past the thumb while grabbing your partners wrist with your other hand - like clapping but you miss your own hand and grab their wrist instead.

Teaching these grab escapes to kids might literally save their lives if an adult were ever to try to grab them as part of an abduction attempt. When it is a good idea to mention that context we'll leave up to your discretion, but introducing and drilling these escapes is valuable regardless.

Craig Fife
Girls Training girls empowerment, involvement, safety

In response to a question about how to retain girl students on the (no longer active) Aikidokids.com forum, the following replies came in:

1] My instinct is that you empower girls more effectively when you give them boys to throw across the room. You also teach boys to respect girls pretty effectively too. That being said - your mileage may vary, and it might be beneficial to offer single-gender youth classes for reasons I've not considered. I imagine there are some all-girls classes out there, some of them at girl's schools where it is more circumstance than intentional choice that keeps the class all-female.

My classes tend to have more boys than girls, so there may be things I should be doing to make my classes more girl-friendly. I think there are also social forces at work that don't encourage girls to pursue martial arts nearly as much as they encourage boys, and since I can't expect to shift the social fabric much on my own, I think my task is more focused on welcoming any girls that do arrive at the dojo, and making sure there's a healhy training environment for them. As for teaching girls - I think you need to adjust a little bit for every student, and suspect that criterion like maturity, energy level, coordination, and experience have more impact on what kind of student a kid is than their gender does, though in general I think it is safe to say that the most of the ADHD kids running amok are going to be boys.

2] Cyndy Hayashi Sensei, of Aikido West - With the growing concern of parents for their young children, it is a thought to coordinate a mothers/daughters street defense class. This is a class geared towards very simple, but effective, responses to an attack. You teach palm and elbow strikes, kicking and screaming. The screaming is what to scream and how to scream. It is not generally natural for women to raise their voice in public. It was easier with the kids. I found this a great class where the mothers and daughters found a place to bond in common thought and it put a very serious concern in a fun and relaxed atmosphere for learning. I put in elements of higher learning for them in the event they wanted to pursue Aikido as a martial art. One of the main elements was recognizing a bad situation or potential for a bad situation and getting out before anything occurs. This class can be advertized in the community, women's shelters for domestic violence, laundermats, gyms etc....

AikidoKids staff and Cyndy Hayashi