At today’s practice session, children from 6 to 13 years of age are training. The students sit upright in a row facing the front. A senior student calls out ‘REI’ and everyone bows with respect. After warm up exercises, the students practice their stance (‘kamae’ in Japanese). When taking their stance they shout the word ‘KAMAE’ to show their focus. Next, the students practice their tumble rolls and falls (‘ukemi’ in Japanese).
After going over the basics, the teacher tells everyone to find a training partner and the pratice of Aikido techniques begins. The techniques (‘waza’ in Japanese) change from class to class. Today students practice a ‘front entering throw’. Because Aikido works by taking away a person’s balance, even little people can do it. Also, because practice is cooperative, students can do it safely from a young age.
AYNSW students also learn how to avoid being picked on at school, how to stand up for themselves and do what is right. This is called Rock & Water system and teaches kids when to be like water and when to stand strong like a rock.
Next, the students play some Aikido games. For today’s game, everyone closes their eyes whilst the teacher chooses a few special helpers. When the teacher shouts ‘hajime’ (begin) the helpers run around tagging everyone else. When tagged, the student stands in ‘kamae’ (the Aikido stance) until someone else crawls through their legs. Amidst shouts of laughter, the game continues until everyone is left standing in ‘kamae’.
The Aikido Yoshinkai NSW was opened in Sydney in 2005. The average junior student trains around 2-3 times a week. The headmaster of the AYNSW are Darren Friend & Peggy Woo Sensei. Both Darren & Peggy Sensei trained in Japan at the headquarters for 13 years.
The biggest event of the year is the Annual Demonstration where all students, children & adults, display their skills in Aikido to friends, family and members of the public. A lot of practice goes into making every demonstration a success.