What is a good age to start children? In what style/form/whatever? There's oodles to choose from! Should we focus on just 1? Or a couple? How often do they train? Where do we even begin?
Are there certain aspects in children that make them poor candidates for martial arts versus other types of sports?
Any guidance would be appreciated.
"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." - J. Wayne
Research the teachers in your area. See if you can find reviews of the studio. Some instructors will let you take a free class to see if you like it.
There are a few studios in my area. They mainly teach Tae Kwon Do. One teacher is really good and is strict with the children...meaning that they have to carry a form with them and adults who interact with the child (parents, teachers etc...) can check off their behavior and respect to others and they have to bring it in to the teacher. Then there's another teacher in town (think along the lines of the bad teacher in The Karate Kid). He teaches cage fighting etc...
I don't think there's a good or bad age to start, it all depends on how the child views the classes. They need to be able to understand that any form of martial arts is for defense only and they should not attempt to use it on other children for any reason including attempting to teach them.
When I took classes I didn't even tell anyone about it just because I'm a pretty private person.
I hope some of this helps.
Good luck on your search.
*ETA - Be careful if you see someone advertising that they know Jeet Kune Do. That is the style that Bruce Lee created, and to the best of my knowledge the person has to be certified by one of his family members (I believe Shannon Lee is one of them). From what I've read it's very difficult to become certified and a lot of people claim they know it when they don't. Just an FYI
[This message edited by simplydevastated at 2:34 PM, July 1st (Tuesday)]
There are so may styles out there it is really a personal preference. Talk to the school owner (should also be a seasoned instructor) about their own background. Take advantage of free "intro" lessons to see if your DS likes it before making a commitment as it can be quite pricey in some areas. If he doesn't like it, or take to one style particularly, look at a different school. Watch how the instructor(s) interact with the kids. Ask a lot of questions so you feel comfortable. The focus of the school should be on teaching the kids and mentoring them, not on profits.
Martial arts is a very solitary sport, like swimming, so it is not ideal for a kid that wants to be part of a team (e.g., soccer, basketball, etc.). There is a lot of self-discipline needed to succeed, which is always a challenge for kiddlings. However, I am a strong supporter of martial arts when it is taught by reputable instructors and is being learned for the right reasons. With the right instructor your child would learn those right reasons as that is part of the instruction. It is great exercise, teaches self-discipline, self-defense skills, and humility, and is just simply a lot of fun (for those that enjoy that kind of thing). It is not for everyone, but give it a shot! I LOVED doing it!
Oh, and you do learn how to tolerate a lot of pain. Breaking one board or concrete block wrong and that tolerance is much appreciated!
This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man ~ Shakespeare, Hamlet
ETA, she taught kids for several years, and is now with a school that teaches various special needs communities. If you have any questions, feel free to PM her. They're off for the summer, so the need to talk about it is getting pent up
[This message edited by SI Staff at 7:21 PM, July 1st (Tuesday)]
The people you do your life with shape the life you live
The place we went was 'officially' a Shotokan school, but actually taught many forms of martial arts. Safety was always priority number one. In a lot of cases, the more dangerous maneuvers were taught differently to the kids than the grown ups, in order to be made more safe for the kids.
Feel free to either PM me or have QS PM me if you want more specific information or a link to the dojo we went to, which I think would be a prime example of a kid-friendly/family-friendly school that still teaches effective self defense.
Best of luck!
Youngest DS signed on at the same time he was probably 4 it was like someone else described as herding cats. It was impossible. He is aggressive enough but will never have the concentration required he has some SN.
Maybe you could call a few centres, they may offer free trials that way you can try a few. One thing I loved about Karate (am I guessing other martial arts) is that they train the kids that it's only used in an emergency it's not for beating people up etc.
One thing that I will stress, and I've heard from a number of parents in that dojo, as well as some colleagues who have their children in different martial arts, is to find an instructor that best fits your child.
There was a single mother who studied at our dojo with her two sons. She chose our dojo over another because she found the sensei at the other dojo much too aggressive. She wanted a positive male role model in her sons' lives and the sensei at our dojo struck the right balance of confidence and compassion whereas the other seemed harsh and mean. A coworker switched his son from one Tae Kwon Do school to another for similar reasons. He found the teacher (I don't know what they're called outside of karate) to be too aggressive with his son to the point where my coworker felt he needed to step in a number of times.
I think ultimately it's about the environment and the teachers. I know a kid in another martial art who is younger and frequently goes home sore because the kids manage to get away with real hits.
DD is on the mats going crazy and she has never gotten hurt.
Everyone knows Tai Chi Chuan is the best, but I'd go with the 1st really good teacher you can find, no matter what school s/he follows.
If there is I would call the various places and most will let you sit in or try a class without a fee.
I think it is a great sport for confidence and discipline.
I didn't renew the contract after the year. That's the other thing. Where we live, there are lots of reputable studios and, to stay competitive, most require a contract of at least six months. It was pretty expensive and the studio wanted the kids to take at least two classes a week. It was a lot in terms of time and money.
If you can, try a small studio first that doesn't require a contract. That way, you can gauge interest level and quality of the studio without being locked into anything.
So, the Jiu Jitsu has taught him self defense, and discipline. And his confidence has soared.
I have no personal experience with Marital Arts, but seeing how Joey has changed, and blossomed with his Jiu Jitsu experience has me convinced it's a good idea.
My personal preference is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, especially since it meshes well with kids rolling around playing, but just about any form of martial arts at that age is probably going to be beneficial in regards to discipline, exercise and self esteem. It's also awesome for kids that aren't super popular or great at sports because it's an individual sport that is part of a team - as in, they are on a team but the whole team doesn't suffer and get pissed if they miss a catch in the outfield, kind of thing.
I don't think anyone is a poor candidate for martial arts.
The thing to know about Jiu Jitsu, at least BJJ, is that it does not advance in belts the way most other combat styles do; generally people stay at white belt for 2-5 years before they move to blue, and then to move from blue to purple requires teaching other students, and purple is an instructor grade. There are slightly different belt grades for children under 15 but it's just something to remember in that a lot of kids look at belt advancement and might wonder why they aren't getting a new belt grade every 3 months or something.
[This message edited by StillGoing at 10:27 AM, July 3rd (Thursday)]
DS turns 6 in October. We'll probably start him at the start of the school year.
There are three schools on our side of town. Tae kwon do, karate, and another which teaches several different types. Guess my next step is phone calls and visits and such.
Thanks again folks.
I stumbled into a Tae Kwon Do dojo that was great when I lived in CA. Sheer luck. One of the things the master there talked about was the fact that he ran as a drop-in only place because he did not respect the places that did contracts. He said he had seen way too many of them that insisted on signing for a certain belt level, and then the person would get that belt level in the amount of the time the contract stated, whether or not they should have. He felt a lot of those places were just charging for the belt, and didn't really care about what you learned.
His instructor is a gentle and polite man, a great role model for my son. I am proud of him, and he is proud of himself too (even if he does sometimes complain about going to class, he does seem to enjoy it generally)
Now he plays college Football. Go figure.