Castle Rock AIKIDO is a martial arts school unlike many others in that their adult program is reserved exclusively for adults. That’s right! No Kids Allowed! – No Exceptions. This martial arts school has identified a growing demographic of adults who are specifically looking for adult only martial arts programs. These people want to be able to completely and totally focus on themselves for just a few hours each week – a place where they can get away from the overwhelming responsibilities of work, home, and child raising for just a little while. Castle Rock AIKIDO provides just that.
At this school, adults have the opportunity to socialize exclusively with other adults, to de-stress, to physically reconnect with themselves, and get centered psychologically. In fact, it is not uncommon for parents and couples to train Aikido together where they can reconnect with each other, as adults, and step outside their non-stop roles of mom and dad. The philosophically non-violent martial art of Aikido also serves as a great new activity for recent emptynesters or divorcees who may be struggling to some extent with their identity and newfound position in the world.
“We love kids,” says Sean Hannon, the owner of this highly-specialized martial arts school, “but for our adult program, you must be over eighteen and we are quite strict about that policy. We have to be. For every child we might allow into the adult program, we would stand to lose several adults students who specifically train with us for our unique, adult-only atmosphere.”
Since winning the 2007 “Best of Castle Rock” designation for martial arts by Castle Rock Magazine, and the 2011 “Best of the Best” designation for martial arts in Castle Rock by the Castle Rock NewsPress, Castle Rock AIKIDO has continued to grow, attracting students from as far north as Boulder and as far south as Fort Garland in Costilla county! This came as quite a surprise to them. After investigating this interesting phenomenon, they quickly discovered why they had an affinity for attracting students willing to drive significant distances to come train in Castle Rock. “It isn’t just because of the amazing quality of our instructors,” boasts Sean. “We ask every single person who walks through our doors what made them select us when there are so many others closer to where they live? One particular answer kept coming up: they really liked the fact that our adult only program was just that… for adults only!”
It has become increasingly clear to Castle Rock AIKIDO that there exists a distinct impression that the martial arts industry has, in their words, been “hijacked” by the day care industry. In many schools, it has become less about serious physical training and more about babysitting in flashy, colorful uniforms. In some respects, it has become a part-time, surrogate parenting program. Of course, these programs for children are fantastic and are very much needed today. However, this trend appears to have created a negative side effect: it has alienated those adults who take their continued personal growth in the martial arts more seriously and don’t like seeing their passion for martial arts caricatured and commercialized. Castle Rock AIKIDO is now serving the needs of this neglected, abandoned market.
“In my opinion,” says Hannon, “the martial arts industry has become so kid-focused that many adults are almost embarrassed to participate in martial arts programs beyond their youth. This is incredibly unfortunate considering the tremendous health, fitness, social, and, of course, self-defense benefits martial arts has to offer adults.” Castle Rock AIKIDO is committed to changing this distorted perception.
Lots of martial arts programs claim to have adult classes. But according to Castle Rock AIKIDO, the actual definition of an “adult” is often very loose in some schools. For example, it’s not uncommon for some schools to consider 14-year-olds an “adult.” But, the truth is that most 41-year-olds don’t like being in a martial arts class with 14-year-olds.
Imagine yourself, a thirty, forty, or fifty-something year-old lined up in a martial arts classroom with little kids all around you. Mommies and Daddies sit and watch from the sideline, beaming with joy at little Johnny as he awkwardly kicks his feet in the air and punches at imaginary opponents who, in his mind, might be little green ninja turtles that he saw on television. Imagine looking around the martial arts school and seeing posters for animated kid movies like Kung Fu Panda. How might that make an adult who takes his martial arts growth and development seriously feel?
Furthermore, we have heard multiple stories about how awkward and disappointing it was for adults to sometimes be stuck in a practice fighting exercises against a child half your size. We’ve also heard that some adults found themselves feeling more like a chaperone than a tuition-paying student who is there to train martial arts. Once again, there is nothing wrong with these kinds of programs. In fact, they are wonderful for children. However, this experience just wasn’t what adults imagined or wanted when they pictured themselves getting back into shape, learning a new skill, or practicing how to defend themselves.
At Castle Rock AIKIDO, an adult class is an adult class. Period. Most of their students are between 25-55 years old and the oldest student they’ve had, so far, is now over seventy. Aikido is one of the few martial arts that does not discriminate against its practitioners as they age.
“To our knowledge, we may have the only true martial arts program exclusively for adults in the greater Denver Metro area,” says Hannon. “We are very proud of that distinction and that is what many of our adult students want – a kid-free zone.”