The centuries-old collection of Japanese martial arts that I teach are as effective for self-defence today as they were in feudal Japan and also serve as powerful vehicle for self-improvement and personal development. But just how can one teach such arts to children? The answer is – differently.
It simply is not possible to teach young children the full arts. They are physically too violent and philosophically too deep. That is why we spent so much time developing our children’s syllabus – so that we could adapt our unique arts for their age and their needs. With this in mind, our children’s syllabus has the following learning outcomes in mind:
Laying the foundation for the acquisition of self-defence skills and introduce them to basic self-defence skills.
Improving the way children carry themselves to make them less likely to be bullied
Showing children that they can learn new skills if they persist and focus
Developing a love of learning and physical activity for their own sake (not just to pass a test)
Encouraging children to support each other rather than just competing with each other
Teaching children important ethical and character development traits
Just as in our adult classes, we focus on movement more than techniques and we have removed any techniques that are overtly dangerous or detrimental to a child’s development. Joint locks, for example, are potentially dangerous to children’s growing joints so you will not find them in our children’s syllabus.
In terms of rank assessment, there are eight ranks in our children’s program but there are no tests that children need to pass in order to achieve those ranks. The teacher watches the student in every class and awards the next rank when he or she feels the student is ready. As the teacher is always watching the student, he or she knows what that student can do and does not need to test them. This approach is designed to encourage children to focus on what they are being taught as opposed to focusing only on what they know they will be tested on. It also teaches children to work towards goals without a pre-set time frame in which to achieve that goal. The aim is to make learning the point as opposed to passing a test the point. These are life lessons – and that is what our children’s program is about.