Aikido Kids of Gainesville


Aikido is unique among martial arts in that it teaches calmness and creativity in the midst of aggression .... compassion and non-violent responses towards violence .... and resolution of conflicts without harming others.                             
                                                                                    Miles Kessler

   KIDS 6-11 & TEENS 11-16  CLASSES

Mon, Thu & Fri .............Aikido for Kids .....2:30-4pm
...... for Teens .....  4-5:30pm
Single class fee $20 per 1 1/2 hour of class
Kids or Teens times are not strictly adhered to.  If the kids want to come later or stay longer or the teens want to come earlier
It's OK. 


  4 Classes / month  =  1/wk or 4  Class Card =  $ 75 / month

   8 Classes / month  = 2/wk or 8  Class Card =  $120 / month

  12 Classes / month  = 3/wk or 12 Class Card =  $150 / month

Unlimited Classes / month = 5/wk  or 20 Class Card = $200 / month

3 extra classes for each new relative or friend who buys classes.

Other Class Arrangements may be Negotiated
Such as buying and tracking more classes by non-expiring punch card.
Family Discount Plan per Month.

Classes may be purchased  at the dojo  or  online via  the
Aikido Lessons Store page under the Classes heading.

Saturday Mornings.........FREE..Aikido for Kids..FREE....9:00 - 10:30am
Saturday Mornings......FREE..Aikido for Teens..FREE.....10:30am - Noon

Since we are only doing weapons, for the time being, we are not enrolling the younger kids below the age of 11.   I will not know the attitudes or character of them, so I don't want to show them something they might use on other kids before I get to know that they can be safe with others.  I expect the 11 year olds and older to be more mature and self controlled when they come in, so I will give them a try and watch how they react.  When I started in Aikido the second or third class was a weapons class.  I was told to get a Jo off the rack and have a seat on the mats.  I probably had to ask what a Jo was or just watched to see what the other students picked up and copied them.                     

The Kids and Teens who have stuck with me to learn the weapons during these limited times have advanced their knowledge of weapons practice to the point I can teach them things that are seldom taught at the various Aikido seminars.  They are getting to the point that they could be showing 3rd deg. black-belt students how to do weapons at the seminars when they can start back up.   As far as the adult classes go, no one has been attending except for the free classes on Thursday evenings.   The father of the Indian family has finished his doctorate degree, so they will be going back to India around the beginning of the new year.  So I have been teaching them Jo (walking staff) so they will have some knowledge that could be usable  at some point.   If the virus restrictions are lifted, some time soon, then I could teach them more empty hand stuff.            

It's been a long time since I posted on this site.  The Wuhan virus caused a long shut down which I used to enhance the atmosphere of the dojo.  I closed off the opening along the top of the west wall, plastered it and then painted all the rafters and walls white.  The whole place is brighter and gives a welcoming feel when you walk in the door.  I opened up for Aikido students near the end of June, but only for weapons practice, to continue to keep the social distancing.  

This coming Saturday, Feb. 29th, we will have the party for everybody with a birthday in February.  We will have cupcakes or pastries depending on what they put on the day old cart late Friday night.  By going in late Friday night, I have been finding lots more day old things, so we have a pretty good choice of things for our parties.  We will also have ice cream, grapes, bananas, apples, chocolate milk, orange juice and apple juice.  We will stop practice and set up for the party about 10:30.   After we clean up from the party, we normally play games till noon.                

Saturday Feb. 22nd, we had 9 kids and 2 adults.  Feb. 15th, we had 6 kids and 3 adults.  On Feb 8th, we had 5 kids and 2 adults.  The numbers fluctuate from week to week.  We had 3 new kids on the 22nd.  They came in around 10:30, so I stopped working on the more advanced kids tests and we started practicing some tehodoki, wrist grab escapes.  This is what I am focusing on for the first test out at the Queen of Peace Academy for a number of reasons.  I have noticed over time that when there are no senior students, new students don't get to see or understand working together with each other.  They also don't understand relaxing and not putting up hard resistance to techniques being put on them.   Tension and hard resistance can lead to injuries, which nobody wants.  The tehodoki techniques help them understand the wrist warm-ups, simple get-out-of-the-hold movements, working together with a partner, simple responses to aggressions on the  playground and how to respond to the technique as the effect of the technique comes on.   They are also seeing pretty quickly that these responses can be pretty effective with minimal efforts.  So the first test is made up of 1st, 2nd, 3rd techniques plus simple Kotegaeshi.  I'm seeing reasonably good results from this path, so I will probably change my whole repertoire for how I run the Kyu rank tests. Just today, Sunday the 23rd, I'm thinking I could develop a simple Hiji Kime, elbow focus technique.  This would cover all the wrist warm-up techniques.  The test would have 5 same side wrist grabs and 5 opposite side wrist grabs.  A good start.

Last Saturday, Feb 1st. We had 8 kids and 4 adults on the mats plus one little brother.  3 new students started.  One is a Chinese girl who is so new to the country that she only knows a few English words.  The Chinese boy, James, had to interpret for her.  When we did the stretches at the beginning of class, omg!  She stretched her legs straight out to either side and from there she could put her chest clear to the mat.  She's very sharp.  She understood what to do immediately each time I showed her something new and by the end of class she had picked up a bunch of English words.  I hope she comes back.   Thursday, the 6th, Rock passed his third test.  It started out as a mock test with Sandor and Sorin as alternate Uke's (attackers), but Rock went through the techniques so smoothly, I only had him repeat about three times.  So I passed him for 8th Kyu.   He really understood what he's doing.       

The Kagami Baraki Practice, in Orlando, Saturday, Jan 18th,  was good.  Christopher, 10 year old blue belt was able to come down.  He had a good time.  He said so many people were so helpful to him.  I had just started teaching him Katate Dori Kaitenage (rotary throw) last Thursday night, then Grady Lane, the last teacher for the practice, showed a Kaitenage that entered across the attacker's front that was confusing a number of the black belts, so I know Christopher was really struggling.   Over all I thought he gave a good showing and I am very proud to have him as my student.           

Saturday, Jan 18th, the dojo will be closed.  We are going down to the Aikido Orlando Dojo on the north side of Orlando, Winter Park area, for their Kagami Baraki opening the new year practice.  There is no charge, no fee.   Sensei Keith and I will be leaving early because I am going to teach an Iaido (sword) class starting at 9am.  Therefore we will have to leave here between 6:15 and 6:30 in order to be down there in time.  The Kagami Baraki Aikido class is starting at 10am.   Then after the practice, I will make a video of the 15 Aiki Toho Katas with instruction, so they will have a base video to use for practice.  I don't know if we will go out to dinner after that or not.  We will kind of play that by ear, deciding on the times so we don't get back to Gaineville too late.          

Saturday, Jan 11th.   Terrific day!  We had 12 kids and 1 adult.  Sensei Keith was down in Orlando for training.  After the bow in, I assigned senior students to help junior students.  They were very happy to be helping others, then the two most senior students arrived and immediately asked, "Who can we help?"  Wow!  THEY'RE GETTING IT!  It's not just about advancing yourself.  Helping others actually helps you get better.  I think that Simone and Sandor are realizing that helping the lower students helps them to remember those techniques I taught them earlier and keep them ready for whatever I throw at them that is more advanced, yet uses those earlier principles.  I am so proud of them!  We had one new boy start and two other students who have not come in a long time return.  Wonderful day.        

Last Saturday, Jan 4th, we had 6 kids and 2 adults.   These small classes really allow everybody who shows up to get more out of it.  They usually get at least one stripe or more.
The coming Saturday after this, the 18th, we will not have a class here in Gainesville.  Aikido Orlando Dojo is holding a Kagami Baraki, new year practice get together.   There are normally guest teachers and I have been invited to be one.  Any students from here who are interested can go down with us and practice.   There may be a fee, but I don't think it will be much.              

We ended the year 2019 and started 2020 OK.   Monday evening, the 30th, I had 6 students for Iaido class.  I think that's terrific!  The adult Aikido class has become a usual  no show.  If somebody does come they are getting a private lesson at class rates.  I don't mind that.  I want to teach somebody.  Tuesdays are my day off from teaching, but still work on the dojo or paperwork, normally accounting.   Wednesday, the 1st, there were 3 students for Iaido.  That's still a pretty good showing for Iaido.   I'm loosing one to go back to college up in Kentucky next week.   Starting about the middle of January I will have Community Education classes for Aikido and Iaido starting.   So perhaps I will get a few more students.          

Saturday, Dec. 28th.  We had a good showing for the Bonenkai & December Birthdays Party.   The Herron family came and added to the festivities.  All in all we had 15 and 1/2 kids.  Gavin's little brother is still 4, so he's not practicing yet, but he runs around and has a lot of fun while he's here.  We also had 11 Adults come in.  John came down from Live Oak to check in with us.  Gavin passed his 3rd test.   He has done nearly all his practice with me, so having Christopher to Uke (be the attacker and receive the techniques) for him pretty much threw him for a loop.  He got through the test with a triangle grade, but it took some pulling it out of him.   Once he would get though doing a technique once with Christopher, his memory would come back some.   He was pretty happy when he got to the last technique.   Keith brought chili and Bharathi brought rice which went so well with the chili.   We cleaned out most of the chili and rice.   Afterwards we had a really tough game of  "Samurai Hockey".  They kept the score tying up and passing back and forth for over a half hour.   I passed out a bunch of Year End gifts for everybody.  It was a great fun morning, then 4 students for Iaido till 1pm.   The Iaido has done better than the adult Aikido classes this year.   I would love to be teaching more Aikido to adults, but the students just haven't show up this year.   Well this is it for 2019.   Everyone have a Happy New Year for 2020! 


Saturday, Dec. 21st. We had 9 kids and 2 adults yesterday. OK for being right before Christmas and people traveling. Gavin finished up his last two stripes, which were half stripes already. In addition we went through all the rest of the techniques to make sure to get him ready for taking the 3rd test next Saturday just before the Bonenkai. I am very pleased with the results of the breaking up of techniques to parts, to drill smaller sections and build the techniques out so students remember lots more. The hard techniques on this test are shoulder grab Nikyo, same side wrist grab Sankyo and cross hand grab Sankyo. These are introductory on this test, focusing on the names of the attacks with forward take-downs to pins. For the little kids, on Sankyo's, I have them do all standing pins. The breakdown of a technique like Katatedori (same side wrist grab) Sankyo goes like this. Step out to the side (get off the line of attack), then step in towards my knee and throw a punch. That gets repeated for 10 times practicing on both hands, left and right. The next section is grasping the attacker's hand , driving it in and up towards the armpit while twisting, then continuing to twist the hand to set the Sankyo. The last section is twisting the Attacker's hand towards his nose, then cutting him down to the side and walking backwards to pull Attacker down to the mat before spinning back along-side to pin. The 1st section is done 10 times, 5 on each hand. Then adding the 2nd section and doing that for 10 more times. Finally, adding section 3 to take the Attacker down and pinning 10 more times. So by the time the student has done the whole technique 10 times he or she has done section 1, 30 times. Section 2, 20 times and section 3, 10 times. Then I change the attack to opposite side hand grab with a new section 1, but the same sections 2 and 3, 10 times each.    

Saturday Dec. 14th.   We only had 6 kids and 2 adults, but everybody was working towards their next test and getting stripes this morning, so it was still a productive morning.  We are aiming for Gavin's purple-with-a-white-stripe belt test for the 28th.  Trying to get him promoted before the end of the year.   I had a new 11 year old student come in Monday afternoon.  He's very sharp.  He and his mother came back Friday and he accomplished all his stripes for the first test.  I expect he can pass the first test the next time he comes.  

Thursday Dec. 12th.  The free classes on Thursday nights has tapered off to just two student showing up.   I came to the conclusion that people have been hurt in this class, so I informed the person that I can't have this happen anymore, no matter whether intentional or because of a mental handicap.   So as an alternative, he can come to the weapons classes as free.   I can keep these safer and not touching people, so no injuries.  This will continue to help his mind develop more neural pathways and get a good workout as well, actually more-so than the empty hand, because I usually don't have to stop as much.   There is more continual movement with lots of coordination required.          

I stumbled onto an old demonstration by Nishio Sensei.  It's the 11th All Japan Aikido demonstrations.  I think they are up to around 57 now so this must be back in the 1960's  I'm about 85-90% certain the Uke's are Nishimoto Sensei and Masuda Sensei.  Everyone is so much younger than when I practiced with them.  Nishimoto Sensei was my Uke and tested me for Sankyu at the old Matsuo Dojo.  He just called me up near the end of class and had me do techniques.  I didn't even know I was being tested.  How many white belts have a 7th Dan test and Uke for you at the same time.   That was special and I didn't even know it at the time.  I was still pretty clueless at the time.   This is the link to the video:                   

To expand on Sensei Keith's experience of the weekend, he already knew much of what was being taught while many 2nd and 3rd Deg. blackbelts were seeing things as new.  It is always so gratifying to me when my students go somewhere and see that what I am teaching is spot on or even advanced to what others are teaching at the higher levels.  I know I'm a good sensei, but it's better when my students really recognize it for themselves.   Others may take my attitude as arrogant.  No, it's self awareness of what I was taught in Japan and what I continue to expand on and pass on.

I received this wonderful Thank You from the woman who requested and coordinated bringing the children with Tourette Syndrome to the Saturday morning classes.  She said posting this was great with her.

Simpson, Heather N.
Mon, March 2019
to Sensei Tom,
Thank you so much for welcoming our group this weekend.  I know that the children loved it and really enjoyed learning the activities.  In particular, while the kids were learning, the parents were bonding and connecting, which was a real bonus to Saturday.
I have taken your flyer and will hand it out whenever possible.
Your program is truly remarkable and I appreciate your kindness to the group.
Most sincerely,
Heather Simpson, OTD, MOT, OTR/L
Tourette Clinic Coordinator
Southeast Regional Centers of Excellence
UF Health Rehab Center at Fixel Center for Neurological Diseases

I received this great email complement from Nathaniel after his first class in Jodo, walking staff, last Thursday evening.  It's so nice I asked him if I could post it on the website.  He said he would be honored.  
Dear Sensei,
        Thank you for writing and for teaching a wonderful class. Having dabbled in various martial arts and numerous dojo’s over the years I have developed a good sense for quality instruction and found it in abundance on Thursday. And I feel very fortunate to be able to receive such a level of instruction within a small class (although I do not expect the class to remain small for long). The commute is a challenge but is what it is. I look forward to seeing you again on Thursday.
Best regards,

This video explains how to perform the first kata of the Aiki Toho Iaido developed by Shoji Nishio Sensei. I also explain about the cutting draw I was taught right from the start of my practice of Iaido. I did not need to change anything when I was introduced to Tasaburo Tokutomi Sensei, master of the Morinaga line of the Toyama-Ryu style of batto-jutsu, cutting of rolled rice straw matting.   Here is the URL of the first Aiki Toho kata

The senior Kids students are not asking to play games at the beginning of class anymore.   They now realize that the Aikido is the "play" and they have graduated to a higher level of play.  I'm  hearing "I love this technique."  or  "This is my favorite Bo kata".    And just a few months ago the statements were "This is hard."  Now it has become "This is fun." 

I have decided to offer extra discounts of extra classes for parents or students who help clean the dojo while their kids or teens are in class.   I'm swamped so much of the time with keeping track of the dojo financially, keeping up the websites, doing maintenance, processing new videos and such that the cleaning is not up to snuff.   I think this can work out as a win-win for the dojo and the parents.  

The Aikido of Gainesville Dojo will be closed on Tuesdays during the day.   I might be there to do maintenance, but I will not be teaching on Tuesdays.  There will pretty regularly be a Free Community Service Aikido Class on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8pm.  Tuesday Evening practices may not always be open.   Please call ahead of time to determine if there will be a class that evening.  Call first Jun Evangelista 352-222-0872.  If no answer or Jun is not teaching,
Then call Keith McInnis  352-258-4725.  Sometimes they both have to work later and can't make it.