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The proud teacher with his happy group of students holding their 11th kyu certificates and fitting yellow belt.

Elementary Aikido Club Students Promoted to Yellow Belt!

Can you believe that last Friday was our last Elementary School Aikido Club session of the year? To celebrate the end of our first year running the club, we held the awarding ceremony for their very first Aikido promotion to eleventh kyu

The excitement had been building up for several weeks as the students became increasingly aware of the date of their incoming challenge: the Aikido 11th kyu test. Most of them spent several extra hours practicing at home in addition to the class practice, often using family members and friends, and according to one report, even a pet, as more or less enthusiastic training partners. They also worked hard remembering the specific budo terminology, which can often baffle lay Japanese persons themselves, such as tai sabaki, ai hanmi, or irimi tenkan.

aikido stmaur kyu test 02

We held a short briefing before the test, with a review of the essential parts of the curriculum

But well before that, week after week, I was able to witness enthusiasm, dedication, and mutual encouragement develop as the hallmarks of this particular group of children. As an example, when I got confined (twice!) due to being a close COVID contact, many students attended the online Saturday morning class that I hosted for my regular students in order to continue practicing. Others accepted to travel all the way to Tokyo for a Sunday joint seminar with people they had never met. Quite obviously, with such dedication, progress came quickly.

More importantly for me on a personal level, I was also able to see them embrace the art that has been such a big part of my life for so many years. In all honesty, I initially slightly resented the fact that the Friday afternoon slot was the only one available for me to run my class but soon, I came to realize that there was just no better way to bring an invigorating closure to every busy week. In fact, on the few occasions when the club did not take place, going off on the weekend without having seen my Aikido class clearly felt like something was missing. If you don't believe me, you should see for yourself in the video below.

Video highlights of the Elementary School Aikido Club

Going back to the test, though stressful, it was a great opportunity for each student to reflect on their own progress and identify areas of potential development for future classes. The students were also provided with individual report cards, assessing their command of every of the basics and techniques studied. And by the way, I am glad to report that everyone passed!

While rightfully celebrating their achievement, students were also made cognisant of the fact that from there on, as yellow belt holders, they would bear the responsibility to act as sempai for the new students next year, who would no doubt look up to them in order to take on board the basics of Aikido etiquette, terminology and technique. Indeed, our students understand that grades in Aikido are not a matter of self-worth or pride, but instead, they express their relationship with their teacher, and with each other since they induce a sense of responsibility towards each other, especially their kohai (juniors).

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Good posture and correct body movement is at the core of any Aikido technique.

As the lucky teacher of this wonderful group of individuals, I am eagerly looking forward to resuming our classes next academic year and to see the students continue to grow. Some of them have already opted to attend our regular Saturday morning class, and others will come to support us as we demonstrate during the Totsuka Budo Festival on June 11th. With students such as those, Aikido has a bright future!

11 kyu aikido award


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