Martial arts are a great way for children to keep fit , learn to defend themselves, build confidence, improve focus (and grades!) and develop perseverance. However, the truth is not all martial arts programs are equal so you need to choose the right one if you want to set your children up for success. So to help parents who may not know much about martial arts choose the right class for their children, we have compiled the Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Martial Arts Program for Your Child.
1. Age appropriate class: Choose a class based on your child’s age and development. Many parents naturally value convenience and would like both or all of their children in the same class even when they are different ages. All of the same reasons that a 6-year old and a 9-year old are in different classes at school apply to martial arts classes. Put them in the same class and one will get the right instruction for them and the other will not. Children learn best in age-appropriate classes so by choosing the right class for your child’s age over convenience will give your child the best chance of succeeding.
2. DEDICATED children’s program: Many aspects of adult martial arts programs are not suitable for kids. Joint locks, for example, are an integral part of many martial arts yet they can be damaging to kids’ growing joints. Likewise, techniques such as chokes are not suitable for children. Such things should be removed from a children’s syllabus and replaced with relevant material such as anti-bullying techniques and techniques for managing your emotions. Parents should always ASK about what makes children’s classes different from adult classes because considerable thought should have gone into this. Building a good children’s program is a lot of work but it’s all too easy for unscrupulous schools to teach kids the same thing as adults and call it a kids program. Or to have a kids program for very young kids that is nothing more than a playgroup with no real martial arts instruction.
3. Not paying for grades: Ranks should be earned and not for sale. This is a matter of integrity. If a rank can only be earned and not paid for, then it has real value. And if the martial arts school does not make any money of awarding belts, then it can maintain the highest standards because it is free from commercial interests. Kids work hard for many months and a new rank should be given for that work and achievement and not for an exchange of cash.
4. Non-repetitive training method: It is no secret that young kids get bored quickly and that many martial arts rely of repetition as an important training tool. A good school will have a variety of ways to teach the same things and to hide the repetition so that kids remain engaged.
5. Values-based training: Martial arts are associated with many positive traits such as discipline, focus, respect and perseverance yet few schools can tell you exactly HOW learning to punch and kick can instill these traits. Time and time again we see kids moving children to our classes from other martial arts schools because the training was making the kids’ too aggressive. A good children’s program should have a dedicated character development program and values should lie at at the centre of the syllabus.