Aikido Youth Leadership Program

Tacoma Aikikai Announces…

The Aikido Youth Leadership Program

Pilot Year 2023


We believe in investing in the youth of today, as future leaders of tomorrow. We believe that Aikido and martial arts training offers valuable tools on a young person’s journey to become active and contributing leaders in society. Tacoma Aikikai’s Aikido Youth Leadership Program builds on the leadership skills intrinsic to our Aikido youth classes, by providing opportunities for advanced practice, mentorship training, and community building.

Aikido Youth Leadership Program participants will receive one-on-one and small group coaching in soft skills related to aikido training, such as mentor and teacher training, conflict resolution, community leadership, and cultural awareness. Additionally, participants will elevate their aikido practice through curriculum and special classes to recognize students as Class Mentors and Junior Instructors. Participants can take ownership of their role in the dojo by developing curriculum ideas and concepts for youth classes and guiding the direction of the Youth Leadership Program itself. As a cohort, youth leaders will develop and execute an annual Community Service Project. Throughout the year, program participants are eligible to participate in regional camps and seminars, our annual dojo Gasshuku Retreat, and a summer overnight Leadership Program Retreat (July dates for 2023 TBA).


Who should apply?

  • Tacoma Aikikai Students ranked as Orange Belt, or higher, and at least 11 years of age.
  • Students with the desire to deepen their Aikido practice through mentorship and advanced training.
  • Students who are interested in building a supportive youth dojo community.
  • Students who are committed to exhibiting aikido leadership qualities of compassion, dedication, integrity, and mutual respect both in the dojo and in the community.

What does the program offer?

  • Weekly Leadership Program Class –  Small group leadership coaching with Ea Sensei. Subject to availability, but currently planned for after Friday teen class, from 5:30 – 6 pm.
  • Saturday Leadership Program Workshops – Scheduled quarterly or monthly with Ea Sensei and outside instructors, based on interest and student availability. Topics include mentor/instructor training, aikido philosophy in action, cultural awareness, field trips, and advanced aikido practice.
  • Dojo Lab – Open Dojo Lab for socializing, open mat practice, or cohort projects. Scheduled based on participant interest.
  • Structured mentorship and teaching opportunities – Assist in youth classes. Participants can be promoted through official ranks of Mentor, Junior Instructor, and Assistant Instructor.
  • Annual Community Service Project – Design and execute an annual Aikido Leadership Program Community Service Project.
  • Chaperoned participation in regional Aikido events – Eligible to accompany Ea or Eric Sensei to Regional Aikido Camps and Seminars. Examples include our Dojo Gasshuku Retreat and seminars with invited international instructors in British Columbia, Portland, Seattle, or the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Youth Leadership field trips – Developed based on cohort interest. Eligible to participate in chaperoned field trips that introduce adventure, community service, or cultural activities.
  • Annual overnight Leadership Program Retreat (July weekend, dates TBA) – An overnight leadership cohort camping retreat incorporating wilderness skills, aikido training, leadership activities, and a lot of fun.
  • Unlimited Class Participation – Youth leaders are welcome to attend any aikido classes, youth, teens, and adults.

What are the expectations?

  • Regular attendance in weekly Friday Leadership Class (i.e., students can attend most sessions).
  • Youth Class mentorship/instruction – 4 hours per month (participants assist in mentorship and instruction of youth classes and events, subject to student schedule availability).
  • Saturday Leadership Workshop attendance (subject to student schedule availability).
  • Community Service Project participation.
  • Demonstration of leadership qualities, such as compassion, dedication, integrity, and mutual respect, on and off the mat.

What does it cost?

  • There is no fee for program participation.
  • Students are responsible for additional fees for optional overnight events, field trips, and regional training events. (Regional training seminars typically cost $100-$150, plus lodging, transport, and food. Regional camps typically cost $300-500, plus lodging, transport, and food. Youth scholarships are often available. Field trips and our youth leadership retreat have minimal participation fees to cover the cost of the activity, if any.)

When does it start?

  • Applications open December 1st for January – July 2023 Program.
  • Please submit application by Friday, January 5th.
  • First class: Friday, January 12th.

How to apply

  • Fill out the Google Form application (or paper form in the dojo), and submit to Ea Sensei before Friday, January 5th.
  • Parents and interested students are encouraged to speak with Ea Sensei about any questions they have.