Youth Aikido

Tacoma Aikikai offers classes to youth age 6 and up. Classes provide a healthy dose of physical activity, with movement that cultivates physical fitness and cooperation. Physical contact with the mat, the teacher, and other youth helps students feel comfortable in their bodies and their environment, increasing confidence and spatial awareness. Stripe and belt testing give benchmarks for achievement and foster a focus and self-discipline for youth. Junior and teen mentorship programs develop leadership skills.

More about Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed in the 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba, commonly known by his students as O-Sensei. Literally translated as the art of peace, aikido focuses on harmonizing with the energy of an opponent. We use large circular movements to blend with an attack. On the mat, we use effective, but defensive, joint locks and throws to neutralize and control without hurting our partner. Training includes lots of rolling and falling so that we can safely receive techniques.

Aikido is peaceful

Aikido is unique in being a “non-violent” martial art. There is no competition – we train to improve ourselves. We learn to take care of our partners with controlled techniques. By diffusing conflict on the mat, we learn how to diffuse conflict off the mat.

Benefits of Aikido

The benefits of aikido training are profound are far-reaching. Youth can observe changes in focus, confidence, and self-control almost immediately. Here are few things you may notice after beginning to train

Concentration – aikido, like other martial arts, is proven to boost focus and concentration.

Fitness and coordination – aikido offers vigorous physical exercise to improve health and well-being. Aikido movements also promote coordination and skills that translate into other sports and activities.

Cooperation – aikido is non-competitive. Techniques do not rely on strength or speed. Students learn to train with everyone in a cooperative manner.

Community and Leadership – Tacoma Aikikai fosters a mutually supportive community of lasting friendships. As students progress, they are expected to help others.

Self-control – aikido training relies on remaining calm and in the moment. Techniques are executed with care for ourselves and our partner. Safe and focused training teaches self-control.

Expectations for Practice

Practice responsibly

Training is a personal choice based on respect and responsibility. Students are expected to take care of each other, themselves, the dojo, and the instructors to create a safe and respectful training environment.

Practice sincerely

Your potential is limitless. In aikido, you’ll learn how to fall safely, move with confidence, increase awareness, and develop martial arts skills. Train with a 100% effort to reach your potential and help your classmates reach theirs.

Be yourself

Every person is unique, and every person develops a unique way of doing aikido. Be who you are without judging others. Most importantly, enjoy your practice.

Program Structure

Our youth program is structured to give every student age-specific opportunities to learn and progress. A tiered approach by age also provides a continuity of training as youth grow into teen and adult practitioners.

Classes for youth are offered by the semester term; although new students can join anytime. Students signing up after a term has started commit for the duration of the term. New student orientations are held at the beginning of fall and spring semesters.

New members can take advantage of the New Student Special special, which includes one month of training and a uniform.

Winter Term is Open

Fall Semester:               September – December
Winter Semester:         January – April
Spring half term:     May – June
Summer half term:     July – August

Winter Term Orientation Classes

Kids – age 6-10
Monday, January 6th 420-515 pm

Register Kids Orientation

Youth & Juniors – age 9-14
Tuesday, January 7th 420-515 pm

Register Youth Orientation

Youth program classes are split by age, with one weekly Saturday class for all ages. Students progress with age from classes focused on games and basic movements, to drills and advanced falling, to execution and development of techniques. Youth between age brackets can pick the program that best fits their schedule and needs. Youth may attend any class offered for the age group program in which they are enrolled.

Download our Youth Program Handbook

Kids (ages 6-10) and Youth (ages 9-12)

Kids and youth programs focus on getting comfortable with physical contact and hitting the mat. A heavy emphasis is placed on exercise, movement, and losing/taking balance. Fun games and drills are used to introduce and train basic aikido footwork, ukemi (falling/rolling), and techniques. Partner practice builds concentration and coordination as youth execute techniques from start to finish.


Kids (ages 6-10)

Youth (age 9-12)

Class Schedule*
·         Mondays 420-515 pm
·         Wednesdays 420-515 pm
·         Saturdays 9-10 am
Class Schedule*
·         Tuesdays 420-515 pm
·         Thursdays 420-515 pm
·         Saturdays 9-10 am
Learning objectives:

·         Consideration for others
·         Cooperation (training with everyone)
·         Showing care for partner
·         Good effort and attention
·         Activity and exercise
·         Basic tumbling and safe falling
·         Basic stances and footwork
·         Hand and foot coordination
·         Japanese culture and phrases

Learning objectives:

·         Supporting other students
·         Developing self-control
·         Responsive falling and rolling
·         Start to finish execution of techniques
·         Facing challenges
·         Building self-confidence
·         Increasing focus and concentration
·         Improving physical conditioning
·         Japanese terms for techniques

·         Yellow (30 hours)
·         Orange (+40 hours)
·         Green (+50 hours)
·         Blue (+50 hours)
·         Purple (+60 hours)
·         Purple stripe (+60 hours)

*Class schedule starts September 2019

Juniors (age 12-14) and Teens (age 14+)

The junior and teen programs bridge the youth and adults programs, having elements of both. Drills, partner practices, and conditioning elevate technical competence and precision of executing and receiving techniques. Self-defense is emphasized through techniques, as well as through concepts of self-development and self-improvement. Randori (multiple attackers) and jiu-waza (free-form techniques) provide students with the opportunity respond naturally and freely in higher pressure situations. Weapons work and weapons disarming techniques are gradually introduced to more advanced students.

Juniors are encouraged to focus on age-specific classes, but may attend some adults classes with instructor permission.

Teens are welcomed in any adult or age-specific youth classes.

At the level of green belt, juniors and teens can also apply to become junior instructors in the kids and youth programs, earning hours to work towards their rank promotion. Dedication, integrity, and leadership are some of the expectations of junior instructors.

Juniors (age 12-14)

Teens (age 14+)

Eligible classes*
·         Tuesdays 420-515 pm
·         Thursdays 420-515 pm
·         Thursdays 530-625 pm
·         Kids Classes with permission
·         Adult Classes with permission
Eligible classes*
·         Thursdays 530-625 pm
·         All Adult Body Arts classes
·         Adult Weapons classes with permission
·         Kids/Youth classes with permission
Learning objectives:

·         Integrity and character
·         Exhibiting leadership
·         Dynamic throwing and falling
·         Responsiveness to multiple attacks
·         Spatial awareness
·         Technical development
·         Pushing physical endurance
·         Taking care of dojo

Learning objectives:

·         Maturity and independence
·         Exhibiting leadership
·         Developing teaching skills
·         Advanced falling and rolling
·         Technical development
·         Jui-waza and free practice
·         Pushing physical endurance
·         Taking care of students and sensei

·         Red (40 hours)
·         Green (+50 hours)
·         Blue (+60 hours)
·         Purple (+70 hours)
·         Purple stripe (+70 hours) – 5th kyu
·         Brown (+100 hrs) – 4rd kyu
·         Brown stripe (+100 hours) – 3nd kyu
·         Junior Black Belt (+150 hours) – 2nd kyu

*Class schedule starts September 2019


New Student Packages:

Youth & Teen Beginner’s Special: $100 (1 month and uniform)


Family 2 members – 10%
Family 3 members – 20%
Family 4+ members – 30%

Automatic EFT (electronic check) payment discount – 5%

Semester Commitments

Fall Semester:               September – December
Winter Semester:         January – April
Spring half term:     May – June
Summer half term:     July – August

Youth Monthly Fees
Kids (age 6-10) Monthly Membership $80
Youth (age 9-12) Monthly Membership $80
Junior (age 12-14) Monthly Membership $80
Teen (age 14+) Monthly Membership $90

*Membership fees are prorated for students joining in the middle of the month

*Payments can be made in person or online via the Zen Planner student portal. After registration, you will receive an email with access the online system. Family and automatic payment discounts are applied by the school after initial registration.