Student Essays

Children’s Examination Essays

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In our Children’s Program, we strive to create a learning environment that fosters the development and integration of each child’s mind, body and spirit. Writing essays about one’s Aikido experiences and how they apply to life on and off the mat, enables the child to think about and apply their training experiences beyond the practice itself. Each child is required to write and turn in an essay prior to their Aikido exam. There is a specific Aikido related topic for each rank.

The following are some examples of the topics.

  • What do I like about Aikido?
  • What is blending on and off the mat?
  • What does it mean to take a stand?
  • How has my relationship to myself and other’s changed since taking Aikido?
  • What are you learning in Aikido and what do you enjoy about your Practice?

Essay Responses by Students in Children’s Program


Aikido

Aikido has taught me how to roll and to fall and all that stuff, but Aikido has also taught me about peace, love, kindness, being grounded, awareness, and embodiment for all living things and myself.

Aikido for me is not a marshal art; it is a lifestyle that helps me think about advanced stuff like harmony for others, love, and peace; while teaching me to defend myself.

I love Aikido for its way of peace; you don’t fight the energy, but work with it, no opponents, but partners.

Aikido has pushed me to stay in my body, be confident, love all beings, go to the limit, open my awareness, stay big, and be powerful! I have loved Aikido even before I took a class because I saw it on the Internet and still love it four years later!

Sensei, you are the most wonderful teacher in all the world and I really appreciate how much you have done for me, you taught me how to live life better and how to defend myself while doing it!

THANK YOU!!!

– J. D.  (age 10)


The Benefits of Aikido

Aikido is a self-defense art and much more. Aikido enriches me by teaching me how to deal with myself by keeping an aware body and a balance between mind and body. Aikido also teaches me how to deal with others and understanding where their opinions come from. But from all these things and many more I feel the most important benefit that aikido gives me is the strength to face conflict; it gives me a very grounded place to be in.

Before truly understanding aikido I would let my mind wander and think A LOT! It took me a while but I realized how to ignore my thoughts and just do aikido, but then I had another problem. My method for calming my mind wasn’t working because I was thinking way too much, every time I tried to not think I would just keep thinking and it frustrated me. But recently in aikido I learned from sensei that it’s more about keeping a balance between the two because without one you are incomplete. So now with my body and mind I am trying to balance them and use more of one for the appropriate situation like now I’m using my mind to write this essay, which in fact I enjoy.

One of the traits in aikido I struggle with the most is feeling my body. Even though I consider multi-tasking to be divide-tasking there is a way to feel your body while I move or think. I think this will be my greatest goal: to cultivate energy while talking, running or if I’m tired to keep me up instead of coffee which I don’t and can’t use. When I was trying to not think, which doesn’t work, I found that when I try to exert energy I am actually tensing up. I found that if you surrendered to the energy that you let the world in and it gives you energy. So when I do my test and after I’ll try to feel the energy of my surrounding area including the massive energy a person gives out. I believe that at the highest point in aikido that only o’ sensei has reached you feel the universe’s immense energy and you become one with it.

Life can become complicated because everyone has their own different emotions and it creates a domino effect when people interact and become irritated. As students of aikido our duty is to turn the domino effect to good so everyone makes the world a better place to live. Aikido has helped me see how the world works and in return I try to help the world back. Even though helping people can be hard, aikido helps me again by giving me strength to deal with the conflicts that I face. Aikido’ s gifts are: First – showing me that I have this great might called Ki, Second – teaching me how to utilize Ki and use it to benefit me and others, and Third – giving me understanding and strength through sensei’ s teaching. As you can see aikido has benefited me in many ways.

To fully sum up the benefits of aikido and how they have affected and changed who I am I look at who I was before aikido and now. Before aikido I was shyer, less strong, less grounded, and had a vaguer understanding of the world. Aikido has given me courage, lots of more ground, and partly because of aikido and also just me thinking in my head I learned a lot about the world. I still have more to learn. I am now more confident, trying to help others, and still searching. I think the one thing aikido has done the most for me is make my life richer.

– J. S.  (age 12)


How My Relationship to Myself and Others has Changed

There are two things about a change in relationship to myself and others since I started aikido. This essay is easier for me because I started when I was kind of young and now I am in middle school.

First, I can diagnose my own feelings better. Most of the time, I have mixed feelings, and they can be similar like the fear and excitement thing we were talking about. Before aikido, I thought there were only five emotions: happy, sad, angry, scared, and sorry. (Hey! I was six!) Aikido and meeting new kids showed me emotions like annoyance, anxiety, and distrust. The aikido principles helped me work with them.

I have improved at working with others. Before aikido, I had trouble making friends, working in groups, you name it. This art has taught me how to work with a partner and be a helpful leader. People here are so excepting that it would be odd if you didn’t help a new person, younger or older, find their feet. I also have the thrill of seeing someone from class when I walk around town. For example, when the Analy Band played at my school, I was proud that I knew Nick.

Last but probably the coolest, I have gotten better at reading people in the last few years. I have begun seeing people as heat and colors of their chi. (If they have any.)

Maybe that’s where the phrase “true colors” comes from. I can sometimes tell if they are mad or scared or sick from these qualities.

In short, aikido has helped me work with and read people.

– C.P. (age 11)


What I Like About Aikido

What I like about Aikido Essay

L. F.  (age 7)

Why I Love Aikido

Over the last 20 months or so, I have been training to be in touch with my body, my heart, my soul and those around me. Aikido is not only a martial art and therefore a way to defend and protect yourself; it’s also a gateway to find what’s inside of you. In my time at the Dojo, I have felt more centered, calm and alive than I ever have and ever will.

I love the overall atmosphere and level of kindness in the Dojo.

Whatever happened at school or wherever I came from no longer troubles me. The kids, (and of course the teachers) have been extremely nice to me and to anyone else training.

It’s hard to describe the different levels of center and awareness I feel in the Dojo. I have to admit, Aikido isn’t always easy but when I am struggling with something I always have support. The feeling when I do a particularly big roll or when I get thrown across the room is truly magical. Out of all the things I love about Aikido, the thing I love most is training to, as O’Sensei once said,

“Move like a beam of light: fly like lightning, strike like thunder, whirl in circles around a stable center.”

In all my time doing Aikido, I have been learning to do just that, in the most peaceful, centered way possible. I love Aikido, and hope to be doing it for awhile.

– N.E.  (age 9)


How My Connection to Myself and Others has Changed

Since I have started Aikido, the biggest changes that I have noticed with my connection are the changes in the way that I connect to myself. I often see my friends tired in the morning when arriving at school, whereas I feel like I have the ability to wake myself up by feeling my body. This is something that I don’t think that I was able to do four years ago. I feel like I have a deeper connection to my limbs when moving, and a greater feeling of the ground under my feet.

However, an area that I feel like I need quite a bit of work on is my connection to the space around me, my awareness. I often get the “tunnel vision” effect when I am thinking too much, or when I am under more pressure than normal. When I get tunnel vision, I can also loose connection to my body. I believe that I may be able to remedy this with more practice of being in my body. If being grounded and feeling my limbs comes more naturally, then I may be able to stay in that grounded and connected place while under pressure. Since I have started to work with a deeper level of connection at the dojo, I have also started to work with my connection and energy flow at home. Sometimes when I am not doing anything else, I focus on my connection to my hands, and I try to extend out. Recently, I have also started to work with sending energy out of the center of my palm as well as my fingertips.

I feel that my connection to others has changed less than my connection to myself, but it has changed. I was recently in an argument with my parents about some small trivial thing, and I was able to mentally take a step back, see why the fight started, and see that it didn’t really need to happen at all. This is more of a mental connection, but I feel that my physical connection to my Aikido partners in the dojo has grown as well, and I am working with- feeling my partner’s direction and intention.

– N. C.  (age 15)


What does it mean to take a stand?

Taking a stand is something that is important to me in my everyday life. I think that taking a stand is something to be done when you believe in something, or someone is pushing you around etc. I think that taking a stand means to hold your position mentally, and have your physical presence be alert, but not rigid, so that you can have a little give.

I don’t think that you should be so steadfast to your position that you are not accepting and or responsive to others thoughts, and energies. I think that taking a stand includes your mental position as well as your physical being. For me, taking a stand is an everyday thing. For example, people making fun of me. Eventually, I just have to draw the line and take a stand, because if I don’t the insults and derogatory comments will just keep coming. In taking a stand, I don’t just go and try to beat them up or anything, I start by holding a mental line. That mental line is what really keeps the situation under control.

A mental line is what I think is the most important part of taking a stand. Without mental control, the body is useless. I am not saying that you have to totally think through everything and leave your physical presence out of it. The body is important, but can’t survive without the mind, and vice versa, so both have to work in unison. The mental line is your position, and opinions and centered-ness.

“Stand in the center of everything able to respond to, embrace and blend with anything offered, without conditions or preconcieved notions.” (The Essence of Aikido) This quote states almost exactly how I feel about taking a stand. I think that you should “Stand as firmly as god ” .(The Essence of Aikido) These quotes mean to me, to be centered and receptive. To be able to take an insult and blend with it instead of taking it and throwing it back or letting it get to you. The same with the physical aspect; if a fight breaks out, (which shouldn’t happen if the first place because you have blended with the energies) then you can blend and peacefully come to a conclusion. I believe that if you can center yourself well enough and blend with the energies well enough, a fight shouldn’t happen. This is something that I will hopefully, after years and years of training be able to accomplish. I cannot do it yet, but I am working on it when my brother and I argue or fight. This is something I can’t even hope to master in my near future, but I hope to master it someday.

I also think that taking a stand sould be respectful of others, so that they are not offended, scared etc by your actions. Taking a stand is very important to me and is an essential part of my teenage growth. If I never learn to take a stand, and get a little rebellious, I will never amount to anything. I don’t think that rebellion is everything, and I don’t think that it should never be done. It is essential to state your beliefs and what you feel to be right. If not, then my life will be lived following everyone’s every order, which would make me less of an individual. Overall, I think that me taking a stand is a struggle to be an individual and to show that I am not just a little kid who can’t or doesn’t speak for himself.

– L. C.  (age 13)


Aikido Orange Belt Essay:

This is what Aikido means:

Ai means loving and caring.

Ki means power or energy.

Do means walking down the path.

Aikido means walking down the path of loving and caring power.

In my own life I practice Ai by loving and caring for my dog and family. Ki is both mental power and physical power. I develop physical power by exercising and eating healthy foods. I develop mental power by staying grounded, focused and being relaxed. The way I live out “Do” is by going to school and going to the dojo. I think that the most important thing about Aikido is that it’s a peaceful art.

– B. P.  (age 9)

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