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8" x 10" Full Color
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click to order Gus Learns to Fly






Gus Learns to Fly:
Self-Defense Is Self-Discovery
Story by Kimberly S. Richardson
Photographs by Adam A. Crowley


a seven-year-old
boy, who is full
of energy and
imagination. Gus is
excited about studying
martial arts at an
Aikido dojo, along
with his sister and
friends. A bully at
school has been
picking on Gus
and his friend Zoe.
Together, they
learn that Aikido
can help them
become peaceful
warriors and nonviolently
deal with the school bully.

Any child who has spent a
sleepless night worrying about
his or her safety will appreciate
Gus and Zoe's empowering

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Kimberly S. Richardson


is the chief instructor of Two Cranes Aikido in Seattle, Washington where she teaches children, teens, and adults the martial art of Aikido and mindfulness practice. She has a sixth degree black belt in Aikido and a master's degree in psychology.

As a consultant and trainer, Kimberly offers workshops in conflict resolution and effective management styles to corporations, schools, and community organizations. In 2008, Kimberly founded Two Cranes Institute to provide educational programs for children and adults that promote violence prevention and cultivate peaceful solutions to conflict.

Watching children develop confidence, inner strength and self-esteem on the training mat is the inspiration for her first book.

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Adam A. Crowley


has been a professional photographer for more than twenty-five years. In that time, he has photographed a wide range of subjects, from Fortune 100 execs to water-skiing grandmas. His work focuses on the characters, places and circumstances that make each life unique.

Adam lives in Seattle with his wonderful wife, kids, dog, cat and tortoise.

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Bullying in childhood is one of the most common causes of psychological problems in adult life, yet one that is rarely addressed in ways that truly empower the victims. Gus Learns to Fly is a striking and powerful exception to that norm. In this short, easy-to-read volume, Kimberly Richardson, a gifted teacher of aikido for both children and adults, demonstrates how a bullied child can move from powerless victim to empowered survivor using the non-violence principles of aikido—and have a lot of fun in the process! I've been giving this book to my adult clients who are survivors of childhood trauma because it helps them as much as it helps bullied kids. This book is worth having in the library of any trauma therapist.
—Dr. Laura S. Brown
Author, Your Turn for Care: Surviving the Aging and Death of the Adults Who Harmed You
Ph.D., ABPP, Past-President, APA Division of Trauma Psychology Director, Fremont Community Therapy Project in Seattle, WA.

Kimberly Richardson Sensei and photographer Adam Crowley have created a wonderful, visually engaging book that brilliantly speaks to kids about one of the most important issues they may face. I highly recommend it for kids, their parents and teachers, and for every dojo, regardless of the art. Great job!
—Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan
International Aikido Master

Gus Learns to Fly is a delightful and beautifully constructed book with a profound message—Aikido teaches how to protect oneself as well as the other. Gus deals with a bully using the philosophy as well as the techniques of Aikido. I think this book will entertain, inspire, and educate children as well as adults about the value of Aikido in daily life.
—Mary Heiny Sensei
International Aikido Master

There are many reasons for violence and aggression in modern times. I believe that one of the main reasons conflict escalates so quickly into violence is that we have lost touch with our feeling self. I don't mean having a "feeling", or an emotion, but rather the basic energy—the ki, chi, life force, elan vital, prana,—that animates who we are. This pruning away of our capacity to feel is accompanied by the loss of compassion. If we are unable to feel ourselves, it is difficult to feel the pain or joy of others, and acknowledge what it is that matters to them.
      If the one of the cures for this emotional plague is to feel, then Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art, is well suited to learn how to be inwardly peaceful and outwardly prepared for skillful action. Certainly this seems to be good training for basic citizenship in these challenging and complex times.
      In Gus Learns to Fly, Kimberly Richardson outlines in a clear and direct way how this can be communicated to our children. This deceptively simple book illustrates how the feeling of power and compassion can be developed through Aikido training. If you are a parent who is concerned for your child's safety, read this book with your child. Then find an Aikido dojo where he or she—and you—can learn to deal with physical and emotional violence in a powerful and peaceful way.
—Richard Strozzi-Heckler
Author, In Search of the Warrior Spirit
Chief Instructor, Two Rock Dojo

With dynamic engaging photos, this book will appeal to any young person seeking to find strength and direction in life—not just against bullies, but any obstacle that life throws in our path. wonderful and inspiring introduction to the spirit of Aikido. Highly recommended.
—Chris Bradford
Author, Young Samurai
Black Belt Martial Artist

As adults, we might forget what it is like to be physically bullied on the playground. We train ourselves to ignore hurtful insults directed our way and encourage our kids to do the same. However, Gus Learns to Fly author Kimberly Richardson takes a different stance—one of action. She suggests to children and adults that when we combine positive metaphors, which our right brain and body loves, with specific practiced actions, which our left hemisphere appreciates, we can meet adversity with positive regard and create resolve conflicts harmoniously. Gus Learns to Fly is an excellent book to share with children and begin the dialog about their experiences on the playground and supporting them to take appropriate actions to keep themselves and others safe and empowered.
—Dr. Kristen Allott
ND, LAc, & National Lecturer on Health Issues


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Bullying Statistics*
Bullying statistics for 2010 revealed that about one in seven students in kindergarten through 12th grade is either a bully or has been a victim of bullying. Sometimes children who have been bullied become bullies themselves.

Other bullying statistics:

  • Over half of all students have witnessed a bullying crime take place while at school.
  • 70 percent of students report bullying as an on-going problem.
  • There are about 282,000 students attacked in high schools throughout the nation every month.

* Source,




Children aren't born bullies, they're taught to bully. Bullying arises from fearfulness and self-hatred. Research indicates that some children learn bullying behavior by the time they're preschoolers. Many young children become bullies before entering kindergarten.

What is Bullying? Bullying is the act of exhibiting intentionally hurtful, taunting, repetitively abusive behavior. There are several types of bullying: physical, verbal, and social, not to mention the ever-increasing cyber-bullying.

We can significantly reduce bullying if we instill in our children self-esteem and a true sense of goodness, two things that we strive for in Aikido. Our non-violent exercises offer real alternatives to conflict and aggression.

What is Aikido? Aikido is a non-violent and non-competitive martial art. It fosters physical, emotional and mental conflict resolution skills, and offers ways to deal with bullying. Using movement techniques, visualization and energetic practices, children, teens and adults develop a greater sense of self-esteem. Aikido's response to violence is to redirect the energy of an attack and subdue the attacker without injury, rather than meeting force with force. Aikido is known worldwide as the "Art of Peace."
(teaching kids not to bully - Seattle Children's Hospital)
(Second Step - Skills for Social and Academic Success)


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