How the Junior Classes are run.
There are two things that we, as adults, tend to forget when we relate to children. Firstly, today's eight or ten year-olds are going to be our age one day, and they are the ones who will be shaping the world in the next generation. Secondly, how these children develop is dependent on the 'conditioning' that they currently undergo day by day.
At Ninjukai Taijutsu, we try not to forget these two factors when we organise our Junior classes. We look on these young minds as a potential that we can help to enlighten, so that they can learn to see and understand reality without fear or prejudice. We understand that at this tender age they are extremely impressionable, and very often searching for a role model. Adults can fail to appreciate that these are very significant mental activities, because what is finally ingrained in their young minds may very well chart the course they will take in their later life.
What do we do for these kids?
We try to create an atmosphere where they can understand the wider perspective of learning. We try to make them relate what they learn in the dojo to the wider context of living. The dojo resembles the world in miniature, where they learn to cope with the good and the bad (or, in Taoist vocabulary, the Yin and Yang). It is sheer fantasy to accept one without understanding the other. Life is always a balance of two forces. Therefore, in our dojo activities, emphasis is always placed on this understanding of 'balance'. We make it clear that the children are here in a Ninjukai Dojo to learn more than just a few fighting techniques. We introduce Chi techniques to the kids - allowing them to appreciate the importance of breathing as an effective tool for calmness. Somehow the modern-day kids are quite known for being 'hyperactive'. This is possibly the result of the environment - where the pace of activities are just phenomenal to say the least. Increasingly, the kids today are under a great deal of pressure. Expectations continue to rise from parents, teachers and peers. Many of them just cannot cope - the last twenty years or so have seen the emergence of new mental disorders affecting young children, like ADD and ADHD. Here in our Dojo we try to recognise the need for children to combine 'activity' with 'passivity'. During class the physical activities must go hand in hand with more passive activities like 'quiet sitting' or Mokuso.
Do the kids enter competitions and tournaments?
No, No, No. There are no competitions and tournaments in Ninjukai Taijutsu. Tournaments and competitions are new imports to Martial arts. The last 40 years have seen dramatic changes to Martial art. They become more and more sports-orientated. To increase its popularity the 'sporting element' was introduced. Tournaments and Championships are regularly held amidst much fanfare and publicity. Titles are introduced to arouse more interest among members of the public. Trophies and medals become the order of the day. Like any other sports you enter to win - and win you must!
Ninjukai Taijutsu is a traditional Art that has not changed its essence ever since it started.
The 'popularity' or the 'glamour' element is not important to us. Budo or Martial Art in the old days was about the inner growth and development of the individual. And this cannot be measured in terms of how many trophies or medals one has won! There is a very urgent need for the world today to turn away from competitions.
The world has become too 'competitive' - and this has taken its toll on the modern-day man. For one must not forget that in every competition, while there are some winners, there are also more losers. The mental and psychological impact on the 'losers' can be quite disastrous.
In Ninjukai Taijutsu the children are made to understand that they are all winners. There is absolutely no necessity to :'prove' that they are better than the others. It is more important to show that they can learn to better themselves. They kids learn from the start that they have to focus on themselves first -their 'battle' is the battle to improve themselves - both physically and mentally. And the instructors will make sure that the kids can see for themselves the improvements they have been making.
How do we organise our classes?
There are three formal classes, on Monday, Wednesday & Saturday. For the first fifteen minutes, we allow our students to do their stretching and toning to maintain the suppleness of their muscles. This is followed by a casual talk about the yin & yang. The next ten minutes sees the students going through warming up, whereby they revise their break-falls and stances. The next five minutes is taken up with 'Mokuso', or quiet sitting.
The students are made to understand that there is a time to be active and a time to be passive, a time for action and a time for contemplation. Most students make very good progress in this early attempt at meditation. The next fifteen minutes is devoted to team-work activities: all the students, regardless of rank, must participate together.
The more senior students are given the chance to lead. The purpose of this exercise is to allow the students to understand that they sometimes need to work together as a teams. After all, one of the very important aspects of life is our ability to relate to other people. The balance of the time is spent dividing the students up into their respective ranks, where they go through their official syllabus with their instructors. The instructions given to the children are very personal and to achieve this we maintain a high ration of instructors to students. On an average we have an instructor for every 4-5 kids. When a student is first enrolled, instruction is often given on a one-on-one basis. The new student is briefed on the qualities of a 'Spiritual Warrior' - qualities that he must strive to attain.
These qualities are popularly known in the Dojo as the 6Cs...