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Aikido on the school sports day

  • 4 October 2022.
  • Ferenc Nemeth

On 3 October 2022, the Roszík Mihály Evangelical Primary School organised a sports day, where our aikido association was invited. We were tasked to give a short aikido demonstration to the children, talk about self-defence and involve them in some basic exercises.

The sunny Monday morning started with tatami packing to welcome the first group from 9am. Arriving at the school, it was clear that the children were in for a very interesting day, with the construction of numerous large inflatable bouncy castles underway in the courtyard. We were not the only ones up early, the children were already in the gym, they had a presentation from the nurse from 8am. We managed to get the tatami set up in time, the first group of 3rd graders quickly occupied it.

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Preparations started a few days before the event, as a lot of children - more than 250 - had to prepare the right educational material and exercises on the topic. The task was further complicated by the fact that the age distribution of the children was wide, from first grade (6 years old) to eighth grade (14 years old) We wanted to choose exercises that all children could master in a short time at some level, which is typical of aikido and which would be interesting and challenging for the children.

After a brief theoretical introduction, the rolls mae ukemi, ushiro ukemi, which are the basis of aikido, were demonstrated from a suwari position and then from a stance. This was followed by a quick and spectacular "fall course" consisting of first a low partner fall and then a higher fall. The noise of the stomps had many children interested, and whispers could be heard that this must be hurting a lot.

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After that, a couple of hold-downs and then a couple of throwing techniques were demonstrated. The stick and sword were also shown, with some quick and spectacular moves. After the demonstration, we asked the children to join us and try out the exercises that were mainly shown at the beginning of the demonstration.

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It was a surprise to me that all the children were very interested in the opportunity and eager to join in the already interactive exercise. Boys and girls alike braved the challenges and almost all of the participants were able to successfully complete even the more difficult fall exercises.

Each group spent 30 minutes with us. Time flew by quickly, the next group was already arriving in the hall when there were still many waiting for the exercises. From the experience, I can safely say that the children enjoyed their half hour with us and will certainly remember the aikido course that was completed quickly.

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In the introductory part, where the children were allowed to ask questions, I asked them too.

Who has heard of aikido? On average, there were 1 or 2 out of 25 kids who applied, they didn't know anything about it, only that it existed.

Who does what martial arts? 3-4 out of 25 kids go to karate classes in the next town.

From the whole school - about 250 students - 3-4 students attend/attended aikido. The whole program ended at 12:30 with the 8th grade students. They are almost grown-ups and we could talk to them about self-defence. I had two questions about this.

1, What is self-defence?

2, Where does self-defence begin?

For the first question, most of the team were able to give some correct answer or approximation. The second question was much harder to answer. Most of them already identified something physical as the starting point for self-defence. Running away, strike back, etc... We tried to find out together what I think the first moment of self-defence would be, which is nothing else but awareness and perception.

4 new children joined our regular evening training.

I am glad that our association had the opportunity to give the children a taste of aikido. Thank you to my fellow coaches, Peter Tóth and Lajos Lázár, for helping me with the demonstration!