by Sensei Robin Wilden
(Bognor Regis, West Sussex, UK)
Robin Wilden (left) Natasha Hadwick (right)
The reason I found myself writing about this is because the transition from junior to adult classes (particularly in Aikido) is not so much a step, but more of a significant leap.
When you are young, your bones are still developing so there are certain locks and techniques that you can't experience at that age. The classes are largely designed for learning discipline, control, concentration and how to perform your techniques well.
The transition period between 16-18 years old faces lots of challenges. Its not just about the size difference training with adults but the difference in strength is a lot to adjust to.
Its quite hard to go from experiencing your techniques working well, to suddenly having to try and put everything into your throws, only to watch them smile at you, then just roll in their own time. This can make your training experience less enjoyable, and quite often, a lot to overcome.
Having seen some highly skilled children try adult classes and stop training shortly after, the transition to adult classes is one that I believe requires close attention and guidance from Instructors and also for adults to demonstrate full control and care with their technique.
I personally plan to put a transition training program in place to help with the crossover between classes.
This is something I have experienced first hand myself but whilst my memories of some of the struggles I faced are still clear in my mind, looking back, I have a slightly different view and wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
I am so grateful that I couldn't throw adults easily when I was younger, that was one of the most valuable experiences of my entire Aikido career. It taught me to be humble.
It was during that time that my technique started to really come together. I could not use power, I could not use weight, all that was left in front of me was to learn to use correct technique or to fail.
Aikido in its essence doesn't require power. With correct understanding and timing, every technique is achievable with as little as 14lbs of pressure. It was through this struggle that I gained a deeper understanding of the principles and body mechanics, rather than just trying to learn movements.
We need to look after our young Aikidoka and guide them well, for they are the future Instructors of this Martial Art we have grown to love.
Sensei Robin Wilden
Arun Aikido Club
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