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Leveling Up: A Reflection on the Kids Class Exhibition

posted Jun 26, 2019, 7:33 AM by Minnesota Ki Society   [ updated Jun 26, 2019, 8:15 AM ]
Last fall, our dojo embarked on a renewed adventure – we restarted our kids program after a long hiatus with eight brand-new students, ranging from 7 to 13 years old. Led by three students from the adult class, we ended up co-creating a strong and vibrant community of learners, meeting on Friday evenings throughout the year to play together and grow in our understanding of Ki-Aikido.

As we spent the year sharing our experiences, students of all levels were given ample opportunity to get a taste of the essence of this practice. We taught each other through games and exercises, as well as learning and practicing basic techniques. We shared stories each week of how we had (or hadn’t!) embodied these practices in our daily lives. And all of us, week after week, placed ourselves at the feet of our teachers to learn the basics anew. As a capstone event, we had the joy of hosting Ileana Shaner from Greenville, South Carolina, and she led one of our kids classes in April, giving us deeper instruction on backwards rolls and ukemi. What a deep privilege, to learn together in this way!

Our year of training culminated with a Kids Class Exhibition on Friday, June 7th. Thanks to encouragement from our friends at the Boulder Ki Society in Colorado, we were able to use their rubric for ranking kids belt levels, and we hosted a demonstration for the first kids ranks of 10th kyu and 9th kyu. Before the exhibitions, Poppele Sensei let us know that while the content for the test would be Ki Tests and Ki-Aikido arts, the main grading criteria for the test would be how well the students treated each other, themselves, and the space. We expected to award a range of belts across those levels, but we were in for a surprise – all members of our kids class shone brightly that day and exceeded expectations!

It is our pleasure to announce that seven of our eight students were awarded 9th kyu yellow belts, ranging across grades A, B, and C. The eighth student, Emilia, who is entering high school next year, performed so well that after some additional impromptu testing (during which she maintained incredible poise) she was awarded the rank of 5th kyu, the first adult rank in our school. Our younger students mentioned at the celebration afterwards that they were not surprised, and expressed their happiness for her achievement. What a moving demonstration of sending Plus Ki to their friend!

Overall, our exhibition was simply one big celebration of the growth these students have attained this year – not just in their ability to perform techniques, but in the largeness of their hearts and the integrity of their character. It truly is a joy to train together.

Congratulations to all!

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