By Larry Murray, Shobu Aikido of Cape Cod
I began Aikido in 1986, and over the years have had a few younger teenagers come to my class. Two students in particular were quite rewarding.
The second was a young girl of about sixteen. She came to class at the request of her grandmother who was taking care of her. Though I did not know it at the time, it seems that she had been rather badly abused by a member of her family.One was a boy was a bit over weight, but a real good kid. He started training with me at 14 and continued until he went into the Marines where he is excelling to this day. As he progressed through high school his mother often said to me that a many of the lessons he learned in Aikido – not techniques, but what he learned about the self control – helped him to become a high honors student.
When she came to class, we went through the warm-ups and I demonstrated Katate tori Ikkyo. Since she was new to the class, I was going to work with her and take ukemi for her to get an idea of how the technique should feel. Well, imagine my shock when I went to grab her wrist and she jumped back away from me! There she was, crying with honest terror in her eyes. She was holding her hands over her face like she was about to get hit.That nearly broke my heart.
I decided right away that she needed help. So I stopped the class and said, “Okay, you are all trying to complete a technique, but you are not moving correctly. So here is what we are going to do: We are not going to actually grab each other. We are going to keep a couple inches distance between the grabbing hand
and the wrist…NO TOUCHING…and we are going to move our bodies only as if we were doing the technique.”
I ran the class this way for the rest of the night, and continued this way for the next couple weeks, without touching. A funny thing happened. Everybody started moving correctly…flowing. They no longer moved with the intent of throwing their partner, but rather they allowed their body movement dictate what was happening.
After a couple weeks of this type of practice, the girl finally came to me before the start of the class and said, “I think I can do it today.” Once again I started class with Katate tori ikkyu. The class paired up, and I went to her and slowly went to grab her wrist. She backed away for a moment before I saw a look in her eyes as if she were saying to herself, “Just Do It.” She said to me, “okay”. I grabbed her wrist and the next thing I knew, I was kissing the mat! She did a perfect Ikkyo!
When I got up to grab her again..she had tears in her eyes again, but she was also smiling. She said to me, “I DID IT!”
That was the best day I ever had in Aikido. She came to every class until she graduated from high school. It is those types of victories that I want from Aikido…
So if AKSB can also help kids….I am happy to support you.