What made you choose Aikido as the martial art for your child?

I chose Aikido because it is a martial art based on self-defense. I preferred it to karate, which my child had taken for a short time, because of the emphasis on sparring, aggressive tactics and attacks. I feel it is important for children to take martial arts, to have an individual sport that they can excel at and advance in solely based on their own abilities and not based on winning or losing a game. Team sports teach many things and are important but there is a big emphasis on winning or losing a game, but with only the advancement of skills in Aikido to advance in the belts, it teaches the importance of practice and the value of competence. It is beneficial for a child to have the benefit of learning all the lessons of both team sports and martial arts, such as Aikido. -A.R.

Tae Kwon Do was too aggressive for Danny. We especially wanted to gear a focused discipline for him – minimizing the aggressive nature of martial arts. -M.G.

I think the spiritual aspects of Aikido will benefit Natasha for the rest of her life. Aikido is so peaceful and beautiful I knew my daughter would enjoy this style of martial art. In addition, using finesse rather than brute strength makes Aikido well suited for my daughter. -G.S.

The boys chose to do it in the after-school program at Wilmington Montessori School. They had been interested in trying a martial art and it seemed like a good way to try that experiment. -A.M.

Aikido is unique in that it is defensive only. Rather than cultivate an aggressive nature, it requires patience and centered thinking in the one practicing. -P.R.

In what way has your child benefited from Aikido?

My child has benefited from the discipline and respect that is taught in Aikido. Aikido has given him confidence that he can learn new things and even if they are difficult, he can master them. It has given him the confidence to be in front of the whole class and demonstrate a technique. He has learned that he can control his body and mind and calm himself. Aikido has given him confidence in his physical abilities and that he can excel and be proficient in a martial art. -A.R.

My son is gaining in discipline, he is somewhat more focused and he listens more. My daughter simply enjoys the entire process. -M.G.

I think the spiritual aspects of Aikido will benefit my daughter for the rest of her life. Aikido is so peaceful and beautiful I knew my daughter would enjoy this style of martial art. In addition, using finesse rather than brute strength makes Aikido well suited for my daughter. -G.S.

My son frequently uses the principles he has learned in class in his everyday life. When he becomes angry I can remind him to find his one point and he immediately understands to breathe and center himself. My son enjoys the camaraderie with the other students and always does his best to impress his Sensei. Aikido offers him the opportunity to learn something different and be proud of his achievements in class. -P.R.

My son has been practicing Aikido for 2 years. He is currently 9 years of age. I was impressed with his knowledge of thought and concentration during a recent Tang Soo Do tournament in which he came in 2nd place. He was able to defeat 3 opponents that were bigger than him by using the skills and techniques of Aikido. It was a pleasure to see him operate. -L.P.

How has Wilmington/Swarthmore Aikido made a difference in your child’s life?

Having positive role models in both his teachers and older children has an inestimable benefit. The Wilmington dojo has a sense of community and cooperation and positive energy on and off the mat. I have confidence that my child has grown and continues to grow in skills and interaction with other people that will benefit him in his life. -A.R.

All the instructors are attentive to my daughter and son. They command respect at all levels and I am grateful. -M.G.

Aikido practice gives my daughter a sense of accomplishment and provides valuable physical and mental training while having fun. -G.S.

It has introduced them to a beneficial discipline, a way of thinking and moving, and a supportive community. -A.M.

Aikido gives our child the opportunity to learn about himself physically, emotionally and mentally. It’s fun, it’s great exercise, and he is working with wonderful role models. He is learning self-control and discipline, and how working and concentrating in class will help you achieve your goals over time. -J.B.

My son is bipolar and experiences extreme sways in mood from mania to crushing sadness. Aikido has helped him practice calming techniques and provided an outlet for his busy mind. Focusing on doing well in a class routine encourages him to keep an inner calm. It is an essential skill for him as he learns emotional awareness and control. Earning his belts has boosted his self-esteem immensely and has helped him to feel like a normal kid again. -P.R.


How have you benefited from training in Aikido? Has it made a difference in your life? Explain.

I like learning Aikido, because it is different from any other sport or activity that I do. I like learning new things at Aikido. I like making new friends. -V.R.

Aikido has benefited me because in 4th Grade when I was beaten up, I couldn’t defend myself and I was hurt. If I am ever threatened again I will know how to defend myself. -N.S.

I can use my one point to stay calm, I can protect myself, and I have made lots of friends. -G.M

I met many nice students and teachers. Aikido helps me to calm down and control myself when I feel angry. I understand better what my body can do. -L.M.

If there is a person trying to hurt me in anyway, I know how to block almost any attack. It makes me feel protected and gives me confidence. I definitely use the principles off the mat: developing a positive mind in school by not focusing on things I don’t like. -H.B.

Kids sometimes pick on me and I have learned to use blocks to protect myself instead of attacks. Attacks will get me in trouble too. -D.F.

Going to Aikido has helped me not to get hurt as easily and really helped me to manage my feelings. -D.F.

Being in Aikido has taught me a lot of skills. It has taught me confidence, self control, better understanding about the way my body moves, and self defense. These have played important roles in my life. My confidence was brought up through this dojo by being up in front of people and showing them what I have learned or how much better I got at doing something. Though I was young for my classes I really felt like I was a part of this dojo. The people here are so friendly and when you are around them whether it’s your first day or your third year they treat you as if you were always there. I have learned to control myself and know that, I choose what I do and not the teacher or anyone else. I choose whether I succeed or fail. I have learned to keep my face up and back straight. It has taught me to be assertive and not to be afraid to walk into a room with people that I don’t know. If I had cowered when I walked into a room I would have not made the friends I have. I learned that I can’t get what I want in a heart beat and that it takes time, practice, and effort to accomplish any task or goal. -C.B.

Where and how do you feel you have been able to use your Aikido training off the mat and in your daily life using Aikido principles or otherwise?

If I fall down, I can roll instead of getting hurt. Playing at school, I can get away or move away quickly. I use progressive relaxation at school. -V.R.

I try to do the principles. I do 1, 2, 3, and I’m working on 4. -M.G.

I do positive mind.
I keep posture.
I am working on progressive relaxation. -D.G.

I am now feeling confident in myself and I am not afraid of other boys or girls. -N.S.

I use my one point when I’m frustrated or need to concentrate. I can keep my friends from getting out of hand when they start wrestling with me. -G.M

When I have trouble sleeping, I use progressive relaxation. I try to remember to keep one point in stressful situations. -L.M

I use the One Point principle to keep calmness when I get mad. Sometimes, my brother and I practice together to entertain ourselves. -D.F.

I use my Aikido principles at school to calm myself when my friends make fun of people. I have learned how to wait for the right time when I play to make sure I do not get hurt when playing rough games. -D.F.

What do you most like about training in Aikido?

The Aikido classes are really fun. I like learning new attacks and throws. I really like learning to use the JO and practising throws to defend against the Tanto (wooden knife). We play games in class too that are a lot of fun and different from school games. -V.R.

Everything!! -M.G.

There are so many things. My favorite thing is doing rolls. -N.S.

I like the variety of classes. Even the youngest kids can have fun. The teaching is effective and I like to learn new techniques. -G.M.

I like most that everyone works together to learn new things. -L.M.

Learning the different techniques so I can defend myself. Working with my peers (same experience level). -H.B.

I like that we get to earn belts. It helps me to feel good that I’m doing well. – D.F.

I like that we get to level up belt ranks and make new friends. I get to help teach students who have a lower rank than me. -D.F.

I like Aikido because it allows me to use my opponents force against them. My Aikido techniques recently helped me place 2nd place in an intramural Tang Soo Do tournament. -H.P.

Dear Sensei Rick,

I have set out to write this thank you note for the past three weeks, but I become stumped when I try to articulate exactly what it is that I’m thanking you for. Today l realize that I want to thank you for creating and maintaining an environment where there is excellent teaching of Aikido.

I have benefited from this in Delaware and in Swarthmore. My family background is an academic one. My mother, Father, Grandfather, Stepmother and various other relatives have all been teachers. As I was growing up, education was understood to be the highest good.

Which in my case led to my being a very bookish/mind oriented person. Finally in High School I took up running which I have done 2-5 a week ever since. But I have never been a coordinated person, comfortable with team sports, dance or gymnastics. I didn’t start Aikido from a general interest in martial arts, because I hang out in dangerous situations and needed a self-defense technique or because I thought that I’d be good at it.

I was first drawn by curiosity to the robustly effective defensive philosophy of Aikido. I have kept at it for several reasons: 1. Excellent teachers 2. I get better at it 3. I feel better in the rest of my life. So I don’t do Aikido because it is something that “I’m good at”. I do it because I’m bad at it. It has been slowly and steadily “straightening out” aspects of my psyche. Physically I’m in better shape, more coordinated, am developing muscle memory and an ability to learn by watching and doing rather than reading and writing (my dominant style).

Aikido has also helped me become a much less self-conscious learner, improved my ability to make transitions between activities, taught me to calm my mind, and helped me be more patient with myself and others. I have learned to get my ego out of the way when I am trying to learn anything.

When I first started coming to the Delaware Dojo I wished that I could hide, somehow practice in private. I think that I feared that you would become frustrated and discouraged with my inability to learn and execute the techniques that you demonstrated. Over time I learned that you would simply keep correcting me but never give up and never show anger, disdain or disappointment.

Over the past couple weeks I have realized that it no longer phases me when you yell at me. I no longer worry about concealing (not that it was ever successful) my deficiencies in class. I have come to understand that I come to the mat, explicitly in the role of student, person who claims little expertise but does promise an honest and consistent effort. I no longer think of hiding and I feel gratitude for and a sort of confidence from corrections.

Thank you for caring so much about your students  & your teaching. W.H.