Aikido Youth Leadership Program

Tacoma Aikikai Announces…

The Aikido Youth Leadership Program

2024 Cohort


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 deeper 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, and community leadership. Additionally, participants will elevate their aikido practice through curriculum that promotes students as Class Mentors, Leaders, and Junior Instructors. Program participants are expected to take ownership of their role in the program by 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 quarterly leadership workshops, regional camps and seminars, and our annual dojo Gasshuku Retreat.

Who should apply?


  • Tacoma Aikikai Students ranked as Red 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 Check-Ins: Small group mentorship coaching with senior program mentors, weekly on either Mondays or Wednesday after youth class.
  • Leadership Orientation Workshop: Annual orientation workshop for new program participants with topics including hopw to exhibit leadership in the dojo, lead class drills, and mentor peers one-on-one. 
  • Quarterly Leadership Workshops: Scheduled quarterly 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, Leader, and Junior Instructor.
  • Annual Community Service Project: Design and execute an annual Aikido Leadership Program Community Service Project.
  • Chaperoned participation in regional Aikido events: 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.
  • Unlimited Class Participation: Youth leaders are welcome to attend any aikido classes, youth, teens, and adults.

What are the expectations?


  • Attendance at the New Leader Orientation Workshop in January of each year.
  • Regular participation in weekly leadership check-ins (i.e., most weeks students can stay for the half hour open mat on either Monday or Wednesday).
  • Youth Class mentorship/instruction – students participate in youth class mentorship or instruction a minimum of 2 hours per month.
  • Annual Community Service Project planning and execution.
  • 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. Upon being promoted to the rank of mentor, leader, and junior instructor, mentors receive a free rank badge. Students are responsible for purchasing an $8 Tacoma Aikikai dogi patch.
  • 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 $200-500, plus lodging, transport, and food. Youth scholarships are often available.)

When does it start?


  • Applications open December 4tht for the January – August 2023 Program.
  • Please submit application by Friday, January 5th.
  • New Leader Orientation Workshop: Saturday, January 20th 2-5 pm.

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.