18 answers

Karate for 5 Year Old

My daughter is five and a half and has been asking to take karate lessons. I was wondering if anyone knows of any good karate schools in the Crystal Lake area (or even bad ones that I should avoid.) Any help is appreciated.

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I don't know of any in Crystal Lake, but there is a great one in Wauconda. It's Gangi's mixed martial arts on Rt 176.

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My son has been at AKF Martial Arts Academy for the last 11 years-he started when he was 6. I cannot say enough about the good that has come from this experience. This is not your typical 'black belt factory'(it took him six years to earn his black belt and he is now a second degree black belt in kyu kido). AKF Martial Arts Academy is a place where children can learn not only martial arts, but also respect, focus, and positive self esteem. The atmosphere is relaxed and non-threatening with an emphasis on doing your best and helping others to do their best. The Academy is near the intersection of 31 and Rakow Rd in Crystal Lake(actuall on Pingree just north of Rakow.) I'm sure you and your daughter will love it there.

You should definitely check out AKF Martial Arts for several reasons...they are really concerned with your child's development as a person; the Master teaches the little ones as well as the big ones and he's really great with the kids, it's a new space and very clean in there. I hate walking into a gym-type place and smelling the sweaty mats (yuck).
I got a real kick out of noticing that Master Cantin is actually pictured in the Academy's Instruction Manual for one of the belts! My daughter started there when she was 6 but she was a very "young" 6. A very distracted little girl. But to see her now going in there and owning her progress is just so great to witness. Husband and wife owned, both of them black belts...very very cool place. Also, you can bring her for free the first time to check the place out and meet the instructor. Anyway, just a super place. Good luck deciding!!!

I just started my son in karate. I looked into a few in our area. The majority seemed to be very commercial. I signed up with AKF. The instructors seem to be more concerned with teaching and respect. The enviroment is very clean and orderly. My 4 year old son loves it. Just what I was looking for. Good Luck!

I don't know of any in Crystal Lake, but there is a great one in Wauconda. It's Gangi's mixed martial arts on Rt 176.

My son is 9 years old and he's going to AKF Martial Arts (American Kyuki-do Federation) on Pingree and McArdle in Crystal Lake. We started him in the classes a little over a year ago, and he loves it. Such a difference in his self esteem and fine motor skills. The teachers there are great. Master John Cantin and his wife run the school, and they are the nicest people and so easy to talk with. All the kids just adore Master Cantin, he seems to have an act with the kids and they just click with him, which is important because you want your child to have that relationship with the teacher otherwise they won't take it serious. We tried the YMCA for about 3 months, and it's just not the same as being in the real Karate School. There was a tremendous difference in my kid the moment we walked thru the school doors versus the YMCA doors, like he was in la la land. He got more enthusiastic and curious with the school.

Hi! I would like to recommend a martial arts studio in Crystal Lake that we've patronized for 10 years. It is called "AKF Martial Arts Academy" and it is located in a nice new facility on McArdle Rd., just off the intersection of Rakow and Pingree roads. It was previously located near Andy's Restaurant for many years prior. My son, who is now 15, first took instruction there between the ages of just turning 5 to six and a half. He picked up soccer at that age & did not have time for both. At 13, he wanted to go back and we were quick to choose AKF again. The instructors are a married couple with 2 daughters of their own, ages approx. 12 and 10. Very nice people and more important, excellent instruction in a positive atmosphere. Young children all seem to be comfortable with the style of teaching and the staff they employ. I would definitely recommend you try them, and I know you can go in and have a few "trial" lessons before committing. Their phone number is ###-###-####.

I would recommend the American Kyuki-do- Federation Martial Arts Academy in Crystal Lake. It is just off Pingree between Rakow and Northwest Highway. It enrolls children beginning at age three. In addition, it is possible to get a month of free lessons to see how your daughter might like martial arts. You can call Master John Cantin at ###-###-#### to talk about what the school has to offer.

I also suggest AKF in Crystal Lake. My four sons attend and the instructors are excellent. Patient and firm regarding how to behave and how to excel. The facility is outstanding. Check them out.


I have a great martial art for a 5 yr old it is called Kyuki-do (cookie-dough) it is a korean blended martial art, my son has been going since 1/08 he was just 7...he is testing for his green belt (5th belt) this weekend. They have classes for pre-schoolers as well.
We go to AKF Martial Arts in Crystal Lake it is on Pinegree just north of Rakow.
Master Cantin and his family live in the area he is a 5th degree black belt and great with the kids...his wife is also a black belt and teaches there as well.
Both are great with the kids (of all ages) LOL. Focus is on respect of self, others, elders, higher ranks, all students help each other. Great atmosphere, my son has made major improvements in concentration, balance and self-control/patience since starting there. plus when he is ready he can work in various forms like Judo or Hapkido.Plus the kids are learning some Korean.

hope this helps

their number is ###-###-####

My twelve year old daughter has been involved with AKF Martial Arts Academy in Crystal Lake for over five years. I highly recommend this facility. Feel free to contact me at ____@____.com with any questions.


Hi K.,

We go to the School of Classical TaeKwon-Do on the north side of Crystal Lake (it's near the corner of Route 31 and Route 176), and we love it there! The teachers are very patient and kind, while at the same time, there is focus on respect and discipline as well. There is a "Little Dragons" class tailored to the 4 to 6 year old children, and classes for older children, too. If you call up the school, they will let you try a class for free, so you can see how she likes it. Great program and wonderful instructors!! Good luck in your search for a martial arts school!


You have to check out Young Masters in Woodstock. They have a fantastic program! For 3-6 year olds they have Little Ningas classes. After that the classes include 6 year olds to adults, male and female, beginners to black belts. You can come and watch one any time and I think they may be running a special where the first class is free. My son has been going for the last couple years and LOVES it! The masters have over 100 years combined experience and they are great with kids. Check out their website which includes videos of the classes. www.youngmastersmartialarts.com

p.s We tried going through the City of Woodstock's rec center, but it was WELL worth spending a little more to go through a private program.

We have taken at 2 places in Crystal Lake.

For 15 months my daughter took karate at Illinois Shotokan Karate (thru the Park District). It seemed an inexpensive option, but after all the other testing and tournament fees, it wasn't cheaper than a private studio. The progress seemed slow and my daughter grew frustrated at the lack of opportunity to advance her belt color. I grew frustrated at the costs and how few new things were being taught. She is older (started at 12) so maybe this place would be OK for a younger child. The instructors are very nice and competent.

Just recently we moved over to Focus Martial Arts. I agree with everything the previous mom said about them. Good choice. Family business, but very successful. Their website is focusma.com.

There are lots of other Martial Arts places around town, they just teach things other than karate. Any way you go, it's a wonderful thing for your kids to do.

I know the owners of Focus on 31- they are awesome as well as their employees. my children are in Lees martial arts in cary- I like it as well- I am able to run to jewel or hallmark while they are in class. My boys have been doing it over 4 years now- there are a lot of girls in class. Its great for self esteem

Crystal Lake park district offers karate, and it is excellent. Classes are held at Main Beach. Not only are instructors very good and not too strict, but it is also priced very reasonably and there are no contracts to sign. Both my kids are in it and love it. Good luck!

Oh-- just read the mom who was unhappy with the park district. I can tell you that my kids were in several places, and we liked this one the best. They get out of it what they put in. If they practice at home, they move up faster. Again, good luck!

I would recommend FOCUS Martial Arts in Lake in the Hills (Rte 31 & Virginia Rd). I have a daughter who is 6 and gone thru their Little Ninja class and since moved up to the PeeWee class. She just loves it. The owners are a married couple with five of their own children and are just amazing with the kids. They are hands on and very involved with the teaching. It's a very family oriented program. I have not come across any instructor that I haven't liked. My 10 year old son takes karate there and has been with FOCUS since he was 5. Early on he wanted to quit and it was because of some very good advice from an instructor that he has stuck with it and really loves it and is looking forward to getting his blackbelt. Please let me know how you turn out. Would love to see you join our group.


I'd suggest a YMCA program because we had a similar experience. My 4 yr old wanted to try it - so we did Tae Kwon Do at the YMCA. It wasn't what she expected and she only lasted on session. Now again at 5 1/2 she's asking to try again.

For us, going through the Y was cheaper than going directly through the "store front" school since we're already members. It's a great way for the kids to "try" new things in a familiar, family environment, and know that it's OK to not feel pressure to stick with it. My kids "try" different things all the time. I see they are stronger and more confident than some other little girls because they aren't afraid to try new things. They remember the classes they've taken and after about a year or so ask me to go again. I think exposure to different experiences is key to healthy child development...especially for girls and in our sedentary society where so many of their friends (at 5 and 4) talk about playing Wii, other video games or watching movies.

Best of luck - let me know what happens!


Hi! I would also recommend Focus in LITH. I also just heard positive reviews from another parent on Master Chung's Martial Arts in Crystal Lake.

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