How to Choose a Martial Arts School
Your kid has decided to take up martial arts and become the next Power Ranger or Chuck Norris. Does your child really need to learn karate? Do you really know what karate is and isn't? Doesn't that stuff just make you more aggressive and want to fight? Isn't learning the martial arts unnecessary and even dangerous? Do you really know what to look for when choosing a school? These and other questions are probably swirling about your head. Relax. In the following paragraphs you will find some useful tips to help you decide if karate is right for your child and how to find a good school. However, if you still have questions, e-mail me. I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have.
While the martial arts you see in the movies looks aggressive, what's taught in a good martial arts school is not. An estimated 4 million people, up to 60% of them boys and girls aged 4 to 12, are enrolled in martial arts classes in the U.S. today. The difficulty lies in finding a good and appropriate school.
What are these young people learning? The martial arts can offer children several benefits. Health benefits: your child can develop stamina, coordination, power, speed, flexibility, and a stronger cardiovascular system. Obesity in our children is nearing epidemic proportions in the United States. A good martial arts class can instill good health habits that can last a lifetime. Other benefits: Martial arts teach focus, self-discipline, self-confidence, self-control, courtesy, patience, perseverance, and respect. It has been proven that children involved in a good martial arts class tend to get better grades and are typically less likely to get into trouble.
Once you have decided to enroll your child into a martial arts class you need to find a good school. Here are some tips on choosing a martial arts school. Consider your child's readiness and level of interest. Instruction can begin as early as age 4, as long as the school has a class suited to that age group. Ask to see if the school has age specific classes that fit the age of your child. Visit several schools. Don't simply pick the school closest to your home. Convenience doesn't equal quality. Sit in on a class. Are the kid's enjoying themselves? Do they show respect for one another and the instructor? (Scratch any school that doesn't allow you to watch a class.) Ask how and what students are taught and how safety is maintained. Be sure the school instills the discipline needed to use the art responsibly. Your child will learn skills that could be used to injure someone. Observe how the instructor handles students. Be on the alert for those who teach from a negative standpoint. A good instructor should always be encouraging even when making corrections. Talk to the instructor. Ask about his/her experience; not only training experience but teaching experience as well. Instructors should have a bare minimum of seven to ten years of training experience with a quality school. Not someone who has trained a little here and there or worse, watched a few video tapes. Also, keep in mind that having a black belt doesn't mean you are a master or that you can teach. [See: The Significance of a Black Belt] When you reach the black belt level you have only learned the basics. Would you want to learn math from someone who just took a few years worth of classes or someone who learned the material and then also spent a few years learning how to teach. Talk to other parents about the school. They’re a great source. Don't be impressed by trophies. Winning a trophy in a tournament is different than defending yourself on the street, and they can be bought at hobby shops. Also consider this; some schools focus mainly on tournament competition, others do not. Make sure you are getting what you want out of the class that you take your kids to. Define clearly what you and your child hopes he or she will gain. Keep these goals in mind when you check out the martial art schools in your area. While the martial arts are fun, mastering them is a serious endeavor. Trust your instincts. The school you choose should be well kept, with a positive atmosphere and lots of smiles from all concerned. You should feel confident that the staff is dedicated to providing the best possible instruction.
The reward for your care in choosing the best martial arts school will be a healthy, happy child with self-confidence and discipline that will serve them well throughout life.
[See the article: Parent's Guide to the Martial Arts for a detailed look at finding the appropriate school for you and your children.]