L.E. asks from Pittsburgh, PA on February 02, 2011
Choosing a Martial Arts School - Help!
Hello Mamas -- my son is six years old and is interested in learning some kind of martial arts. Not sure where to start - karate, jujitsu, tae kwon do, judo??? What's the difference, and how do you know if the training is of good quality? I studied ballet for years and could tell immediately if a school was any good. This has me lost, and there are dozens and dozens of martial arts school in our area. Any advice would be much appreciated.
1 mom found this helpful
So What Happened?™
Thank you everyone for your comments. I'm going to see which studios allow me to observe so that I can get a feel for things, based on what you've shared. You all were really helpful!
S.W. answers from Minneapolis on February 02, 2011
My daughter (now 8) and I have been training in Karate for three years. I previously trained in Tae Kwon Do for five years. Each martial art has a slightly different approach but most include self-defense, forms (kata), sparring, and basics. Some use more kick/punch techniques and some use their opponents weight and movement against them and are more defensive.
I am a proponent of all martial arts training for children and taught a children's class for two years (but am partial to TaeKwonDo/Karate as you can tell). I would recommend choosing a few schools that are conveniently located, with class schedules that would work for your family, and visit during a class that includes six year-olds. All reputable schools should encourage this. I would observe, and talk with parents who are there about their experience. A good school will emphasize that these techniques are for use in class and for self-defense and no other times. Good teachers should expect respect and consistent attention from their students, but should also be encouraging and able to have occasional fun in their classes for kids. There should be some flexibility in their program as far as required/encouraged attendance, and belt level promotions should depend on skill level and not just attendance.
I would recommend getting all the details about pricing - what is included and not included - some charge extra for uniforms, belt exams, tournaments (typically extra and optional). Ask if there is a trial period (my school offers a two week trial period) and/or an introductory lesson so your son can try it without no or a small financial commitment.
1 mom found this helpful
A.C. answers from Cincinnati on February 02, 2011
My step-dad is going for his 2nd degree black (this spring) belt & my sister just got her first degree black belt (past fall) in tae kwon do. It is also a traditional style of Korean martial arts with emphasis on kicking. Most all local martial arts schools are part of a state organization. I would maybe discuss with the board which schools are best for your son depending on what you are wanting to get out of it. All the local schools should have contact information for the board. Or, go around to the schools and interview them. See how many black belts they have... how many students they have... how many instructors... Cost... What percentage of students go on to be black belts (and also how many persue higher levels of black belt). All good questions to ask. Use your Mama gut on it too. If the school seems a little shadey (which obviously, can happen) then move on to the next. In our school, students that work hard will usually achieve their black belt in about 2 years.
Good luck! I think it's wonderful you want to put your son in martial arts. My DD is 3 now but as soon as she's 4, she'll start the kid program at our local school! :)
M.R. answers from Phoenix on February 03, 2011
We have been to many martial arts schools, not because we're picky or weird, but because we have moved a lot.
So I have sat through and watched many schools.
All forms have something valuable to teach.
Most studios offer a free or very low introductory rate for a week or month of classes. Which I don't recommend, because once you start attending somewhere, it's kind of hard to up and go somewhere else.
I will go and observe, just like you do with your ballet eyes....once you sit and watch the instructors and kids following along, you'll be able to pick up on the quality of teaching and professional conduct instilled during the class.
I would recommend staying away from gyms that have too many kiddie programs or advanced leadership training program for huge extra fees. Those usually tell me the owner is way too into the business aspect and milking the parents and not truly focused on teaching.
My son currently attends a Tae Kwon Do, Korean style studio. I went to at least 4 or 5 studios before choosing this one. The owner is actively involved with each class. He has other instructors, but he is in and out during class time.
One studio we viewed was so popular and recommended by so many moms, but when I sat and watched the kids, it was almost comical how they danced around the gym pretending to do karate. And of course there was a lovely sales agent to meet and greet us with the whole investment plan. We about ran away from that place.
S.H. answers from Honolulu on February 02, 2011
It really is a personal choice.
However, each martial art, starts children at different ages.
Some as early as 5 years old. Some only if a child is older. It depends.
My Daughter takes Karate. We looked at many different schools/types of martial arts. But she liked, Karate. And ENJOYS it... thus, she loves going to class. Versus some of the other kids are 'made' to take Karate, and don't like going to class.
So, the main thing, is that the child enjoys it.
No matter what martial art, it may be.
Each Sensei or teacher or 'school', has different ways of teaching. Some are more traditional. Some are not.
My Daughter's school, it is more traditional in teaching. The kids are not babied or hand-held. But the Teachers are good, kind, and love the kids. They have been teaching for years and years. The SAME teachers. And the students have been attending, for years as well. Some are now adults.
At some schools, the kids are promoted to higher 'belt' colors very easily. And even if they are not competent in everything. Some, promote the student to a higher belt color, only if it is earned and there is competency.
There is no such thing, at my daughter's school for example, that a Black Belt will be attained in only 2-3 years. And, within each belt color... there are 'degrees' of that same color belt, too.
So, it also really depends, on the type of Martial Art, AND the 'school' at which it is taught. Each school has different styles. Not all Karate schools for example, are the same nor taught the same nor have the same 'style' of their Kata's for example.
Bottom line is, that the child enjoy it... and is willing... to work hard and love it. And learn. Despite, it not being a cake walk.
all the best,
J.B. answers from Houston on February 02, 2011
My husband just became a black belt in Kuk Sool Won, which is a traditional Korean martial art. You can look it up online to learn more, but what I like about it is the forms are really cool, but everything in then has a purpose, like my husband can tell me what every move would really do in a battle situation, so it is not just flowery nice movement, it is very purposeful. Like any martial art it will help with focus, discipline etc. Our son will be starting next year and his so excited. A first degree black belt can typically be attained after four years of study. My husband has a blog: http://blackninja1.blogspot.com/ which you can check out. He has some posts and videos that he put up a while back but the info is great. Good luck deciding, we plan to put both of our sons in martial arts :D
V.W. answers from Jacksonville on February 03, 2011
Just wanted to weigh in myself. Sue W. Gave great information.
My kids do TangSooDo. It is Korean also. They do forms, sparring, weapons, (when they are older- get a few belts of rank), ground fighting, etc. Mostly it is a self defense focused art, as I think most of them probably are. They do much more kicking, than punching (because your legs are longer than your arms and you can defend yourself from farther away and get away faster, and they are more powerful than your arms also).
Judo, I believe is more about throwing your opponent. Using their body weight against, them, yes... but throwing. My husband was interested and checking into it, and that is what the instructor who teaches it told him.