The dojo’s first off site Aikido instruction to children was solid success. The Chicago Aikido club was chosen by the Jewish Council of Youth Services (JCYS) out of a field of various martial arts dojo, some with dedicated children’s programs. Dwight Sora spearheaded the proposal and lead the classes. Nguyen, Bill Cruz, Elizabeth Margetich, Ian Miller, Luis Vera, all contributed to the program taking taking time out of their days to lend a hand. Below is Dwight’s follow up to Bringing Aiki to the (Little) Masses and a letter from Gene Lee of the JCYS.
And so it ended on August 16, as we wrapped our final summer day camp session for the JCYS. A very interesting and instructional seven weeks. For myself, having never taught children Aikido before, it was a very good experience to see what aspects appealed to young minds, what would stick, what wouldn’t, and how best to keep them engaged and entertained. Certainly rolling and falling seemed to be held in high regard, and as the kids became more experienced, we allowed that to take up more of each session. I also have to give kudos to Elizabeth Margetich for bringing her experience as an English teacher to bear, demonstrating when best to respond (and not respond) to questions from our young participants. My time as an actor doing children’s shows with Imagination Theater also proved useful, occasionally pulling out a theater exercise to illustrate points on paying attention to your partner or maintaining silent composure. Our contacts, Gene Lee and Elysabeth Ashe both complimented the club on its work these past few weeks, hopefully the start of a long and fruitful collaboration.
My name is Gene Lee and I was the unit-head for the Rovers (grades 5-8) in Big City Day Camp. Every Thursday we participated in an Aikido Program with Dwight Sora. The Aikido Program was definitely a highlight and unique part of our camp. Dwight was wonderful with the kids and the kids absolutely loved learning from him. It brought so many kids out of their shells and really allowed them to realize their own capabilities. A lot of kids walked into it thinking that it was going to be more like Karate and got a little nervous about it. I think once they realized it wasn’t and Dwight was so patient and cheerful with the kids they all relaxed and just had so much fun learning more about Aikido (myself too, admittedly).
What our group really strived for was to work, grow, and play with each other. We felt that Aikido was an amazing way for the kids to introduce each other and interact. Even when the kids became antsy, Dwight was great about getting their attentions back and ready for the next activity. His helpers were also wonderful, being careful to make sure no one got hurt and demonstrating to the kids the different techniques.
The kids and staff can’t thank Dwight and his helpers enough for such a unique and spectacular experience. We had so much fun with them and would love Dwight to come back next summer!