Kuk Sool Won? Karate? Tae Kwon Do? Judo? Jiu-jitsu? Kung Fu?
With so many styles of Martial Arts available it can be hard to know how to choose the best one for your kid. Here is some help in choosing the best Kids Martial Arts classes.
Finding the right Dojang
Every Martial Art has a different origin, a unique style and various technique. For example, Karate has a strong focus on striking, whether with punches, kicks or knee strikes; certain styles of Tae Kwon Do have an emphasis on kicking; while Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido are grappling sports. To complicate matters, many modern dojos incorporate more than one martial art into their classes.
But far more important than which style you select is the schools philosophy and teaching style, says Graeme Temple of Kuk Sool Won Martial Arts in Kirkcaldy, Fife. He recommends asking school owners about their approach rather than focusing too much on, say, karate versus judo.
“What makes a good martial arts studio is if it’s a place where kids are happy, learn to love themselves and feel like they can come at any situation and not be fearful,”
Give it a try before you commit
Before committing to a school try sending your kid to a couple of trial classes to make sure they have fun and it’s a good fit. For example, if you have a kid with a lot of energy to burn, they probably won’t do well with an instructor who expects kids to stand still and listen to lengthy explanations. And if your child is quite sensitive, you’ll want to avoid an old-school club, where an instructor might scream and shout at the kids.
Will Martial Arts make my kid aggressive?
Many parents naturally worry that Martial Arts will promote violence, but it’s actually more about teaching the choreographies of movement than it is about violence. If you’re worried about the aggression factor, ask the instructor for their thoughts before you start.
It should be a place to burn off excess energy and have fun kicking and punching whilst learning respect, boundaries and impulse control. Kids will learn how to deflate aggression rather than promote it and learn simple basic self defence techniques and when they should be used.
Graeme recommends forgetting about style and find a school with instructors who specialise in teaching kids. Since most martial arts were never intended to be taught to children, the developmental needs of kids at different ages can be mis-interpreted or ignored by an instructor whose only focus is on teaching a specific style.
As a parent you should feel comfortable with the methods the instructor uses to convey lessons, to maintain discipline, and the way they speak to the kids. Lessons should be based on stages of development and educational best-practices.