Why Your Child Should Practice Tae Kwon Do
Reason #1: They (and You) Will Get More Active
This is the obvious reason kids should do martial arts in this day and age - to get active and moving. In case you haven't noticed, we have an epidemic when it comes to our nation's obesity problem. We're also increasingly unfit in addition to being overweight. The problem is particularly alarming as it relates to our kids. Youth sports and physical education programs are great, but not every kid is an athlete and many schools no longer offer PE. The martial arts offer many benefits, but when it comes to fitness, becoming a true martial artist means becoming a supremely fit person.When I was practicing boxing or muay Thai kickboxing on a daily basis, I was in the best shape of my life by a long shot. Martial arts can help your child get fit and healthy.
Reason #2: They'll Learn to Find Focus and Stillness
Of the many challenges that parents face today, one is that we are constantly plugged in. While there are a great many benefits to the Internet, there are many more benefits instillness and silence. Unfortunately stillness and silence seem to be rare to find. At some juncture in life, every one of us comes to learn that the greatest obstacle we face in this lifetime is ourselves. That battle is fought in the stillness of our hearts and the willingness to confront ourselves. As Bruce Lee pointed out, behind the punches, kicks, and knees, a true martial artist learns to sit with himself and see where his weaknesses are. In years of martial arts classes, I remember many challenges, breakthroughs, and setbacks. What I do not remember are distractions or gimmicks like you often see at your local health club. At the martial arts studios and boxing gyms where I trained, there was no loud music or flat screen TVs, just hard work and sweat equity. As a martial artist, your child will learn what it is to be still, challenged, and focused.
Reason #3: They'll Learn to Take Hits
In the martial arts, your child will learn what it is to take a hit, whether that hit is a literal blow or a disappointment like failing a test. Part of life is learning thatwe all take hits. The key is in learning how best to take that hit and get back up. Unfortunately, this lesson seems to be lost on many in our every-kid-gets-a-trophy culture. In the martial arts, your kid will learn to fail - a lot. Half of martial arts is hitting, but half is also getting hit.
When people hire me to teach them boxing, they can't wait to lace up the gloves and start hitting things. Seldom does someone mention how enjoyable it is when I tap him or her upside the head with a focus mitt for dropping their hands. The first time I got struck in the head sparring in kung fu, I immediately rushed to the mirror to see if there was a mark on my face. The students in class laughed about it for months. While I didn't find it too funny at the time, I came to learn that accepting I would get hit enabled me to relax and better protect myself. That acceptance led me to be able to better respond, maneuver, and anticipate. Ironically, learning how to take a hit is perhaps the best way for your kid to learn how to avoid it.
Choosing the right Self Defense / Martial Arts School: A Parents Guide
"Daddy, I want to learn Karate! Mommy, Jimmy on the bus hit me again today". There are many reasons why parents want to sign their children up for Self Defense or Martial Arts classes. Once you have made the decision, now you are faced with many different options and questions. What style? How much does it cost? Is my child too young? What are the time commitments? Which school matches our current family beliefs and needs?
Martial Arts and Self Defense Styles
There are as many different styles of Martial Arts as there are religions in the world. You have probably heard of Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Jujitsu, and even Aikido, but there are even more offshoots of the Major styles.
What Style is the Best?
In reality, it is in our opinion that the style of Martial Arts your child will learn is not important. What is important is the method of teaching and training that your child will undergo. With Martial Arts training your child should learn self-discipline, self-respect, and self-esteem, along with the confidence and ability to defend themselves.The Instructor(s) are the key. We suggest that all parents visit several martial arts locations with their children to observe the Instructor(s) at work. Make sure you visit a beginner's class as well as an upper level class. The beginner's class (white belt) is where your child will start and develop basic martial arts patterns. This is the critical part of development since it will create a life-long interest for great health and self defense.
Does the instructor's personality and philosophy match your morals and ideals? Do you want your child viewing this instructor as a role model? Most children will look up to their Martial Arts & Self Defense Instructors as role models and will be in awe of their skills and abilities. Make sure that this person who will be dealing with your children matches your values.
It is also important to view an upper level class. The beginner classes are usually very tame, and the teaching philosophy is tailored to a younger audience. However, the older the student is, the "real" teaching and training methods are put into effect. You may feel comfortable with how the instructor "teaches" the younger beginning students, but may not be comfortable with how they handle the older students.
The majority of Martial Arts & Self Defense Locations (or Dojo's) run their business on a membership basis. Customers must sign contracts, where they are obligated to pay for a certain time period to participate. The locations are run like a gym membership, you pay for a certain length of time and may participate as often as you desire. Bae's Martial Arts has multiple specials and flexible fee structures for single or multiple students. In Martial Arts there are numerous skill levels that are equated to a belt rank. After a certain period of time and training, the student is ready to advance to a new level or belt in their martial arts style, and a "belt test" will be performed. This belt test period almost always require the student to pay a nominal "belt-testing fee". Parents, the belt test process provides goals for individual students aiming to attain greater learning. Additionally, various martial arts schools require that you purchase a uniform with the schools logo. As the child advances in rank, protective sparring gear is required. This is mandatory for the child's protection and safety. Normal safety gear for Martial Arts consists of Foot Pads, Hand Pads, Head Gear, Mouth Piece, Groin Cup, and a Spar Vest.
Ask yourself this: What other sport can you and your child attend 6 days/week and at your time schedule that fits your family's lifestyle?
So Parents, factor in the total cost of classes, testing fees, and required equipment when making your decisions. But most importantly learn more about the reputation of the school and it's instructors from the current students and parents enrolled. No better reviews can be given.
At what age should my child begin Martial Arts or Self Defense? I have seen children as young as 3 years old participate in Martial Arts or Self Defense training. The age of which a child should start Martial Arts or Self Defense classes should be judged on an individual basis and be determined by the parents. Some key points to consider. Does the child have a good attention span? Has the child participated and flourished in other group activities? Is the child comfortable in larger group settings? At Bae's we strive to instill these behaviours to each and every new student as they grow and prosper in their martial arts training from day one. If the child is currently enrolled in grade school and has no problem adapting to those settings or conditions then they should be considered old enough to participate and benefit from Martial Arts or Self Defense instruction.
Work Hard // Train Hard // Feel Great
Reason #4: They'll Gain Self Confidence and Self Respect
As noted in talking about my friend's son Ethan, I was able to witness firsthand the confidence he gained by participating in the martial arts. Being able to advance and play with the big kids gave Ethan a tremendous amount of confidence. Of course, playing with the big kids also gives all of us a little reminder of humility - someone is always bigger and stronger. I remember Sifu gently threatening the two young boys in our kung fu class that if they ever used their kung fu training in the wrong way or to show off he would have their hide. The right martial arts school will teach your child that there are no tough guys. Every martial artist ultimately learns this sense of respectand true confidence. Your child will learn that confidence and respect for others comes from a deep sense of self-knowledge.
Reason #5: They'll Connect Their Mind and Body
What they don't teach you at your local health club is how to really listen to your body. To listen to your body is to also see your thoughts and have heightened awareness of your emotional construct. A martial artist is taught to see, feel, and listen - both internally and externally. Tapping into intuition, fear, and courage are examples of being able to put the physical together with the mental. How often have we heard the phrase "being paralyzed with fear"? Being able to combat such a thing is what you learn in the martial arts.
Reason #6: They'll Learn Conflict Resolution
People often ask me whether I have ever used my martial arts and boxing training in a fight. Indeed I have used the skill sets learned from martial arts many times to resolve conflict, but thankfully, never in a physical altercation (outside the ring, of course). One of the first lessons Sifu taught us in kung fu was that words were never grounds for a fight. That advice right there has saved me many times. In the martial arts, you learn that there is no such thing as "fighting" words. Instead, you learn to respond without reacting in the martial arts.
Reason #7: They'll Learn to Breathe
Of the many things I have learned in the martial arts and boxing, breathing is near the top. Back in my kung fu days, Sifu told me that he could tell how someone fights just by observing how he or she breathes. Indeed, nothing is more essential to the success of how we move our body then tapping into the life force of our essence - our breath. Ask a professional athlete, or an actor, dancer, or signer, and they will tell you that to succeed in any physical craft is to access your breath correctly. I am shocked at times working with adults who never learned to breathe properly when under physical exertion. This skill can literally save your life. In the martial arts your kid will learn the essence of how to breathe and even relax under pressure.
The bottom line is that almost any child in Martial Arts Karate Tae Kwon Do can and will benefit from participation in the martial arts. As to what martial art, it's honestly not very important. For a typical six or eight year old the point is to just get them moving and focused. The key in choosing a teacher or school is to do your due diligence when it comes to evaluating the integrity of the program. As a starting place, I would choose a prospective instructor or coach who talks more about the needs of your child than his or her program.