So how young should you enrol your child in martial arts classes? Well, that depends… it depends on what you want to get out of it, what the developmental stage of your child is, is there an instructor or a school that is a good fit for your child’s age (and specifically, your child). You see, there are a lot of variables.
We now see classes aimed at kids aged between 18-36 months. Is that too young? Well again, that depends. It depends on all of the variables above. It is my opinion that these classes are not ‘martial’ at all – that is to say they are very far removed from the original intentions of the fighting arts, staying alive on the battle field or self defence as a civilian or law enforcement officer. They are more like a combat sports/martial arts themed activity to teach kids a good solid foundation of physical and social skills. It prepares them for life in an age appropriate manner. Once you get the difference there should be very little angst.
Here’s a short explanation of how martial arts can teach valuable life skills:
- Confidence: By learning how to protect themself, your childwill develop confidence in their ability to handle life’s challenges. In turn, their improved confidence will give them the courage to say “no” to negative influences.
- Focus: Kids increase their focus by giving them clear goals and showing them how to reach those goals through hard work and being consistent.
- Self-control: Kids learn self-control in the martial arts in a number of ways. They learn how important it is to have respect, both for themselves and for others. Martial arts training teaches that in order to get respect, you first have to give it. Once your child learns this important lesson, their self-control will naturally increase.
- Self-discipline: As a child progresses through the ranks of martial arts the technical and fitness requirements increase (in age specific stages). We work with children to safely explore their physical boundaries and learn some of life’s tough lessons in a caring and supportive environment.
- Resilience: Martial arts and combat sports give kids a place to test their boundaries and take calculated risks in a risk managed environment. They learn consequences of actions and that failure is not the end of the world.
Martial Arts is ideal for children who do not do well in team sports. The combined physical and mental practices enable them to flourish in this activity. Many do not realise this, but it is a fact that martial arts training is safer than most other sports.
Children with special needs, such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), learning difficulties and hyperactivity are often recommended to participate in martial arts for kids because of the clear benefits in its structured training techniques.
As you can see, our Kidz Karate programs teach so much more than “just kicks and punches.” We help children develop life-skills that will take them far beyond the walls of our martial art school – benefits that will last them a lifetime.
Understanding how to wait their turn, not throwing objects in frustration, learning how to follow directions, being excited to exercise and learn new things and having the confidence to tackle new challenges are all lessons that a child must learn.
There are many factors that will affect a child’s development and behaviors, but there are few places to turn that can do so in a fun, positive and enthusiastically educational way. Our Kidz Karate Little Dragons program addresses these issues and more.
What do we mean by “preliminary” martial arts training?
When we refer to preliminary martial arts training, we are referring to fundamental skill development necessary to efficiently and effectively participate in the martial arts. Children ages 8 and under are not ready for intense martial arts training – they need to have a solid foundation in fundamental martial arts preparation. Premature exposure to intense martial arts training will limit a child’s ability and slow their development. This will lead to a lack of ongoing motivation and ultimately restrict their capabilities.
We will target their stages of development and maximize the results by providing our students with age-specific programs. A foundation must be laid before a child begins martial arts training in fundamental skill development. Because 5 & 6 year olds already have a clear understanding of following directions and interacting positively with others, they can enter a martial arts training program without having to lay a foundation. Three & four year olds, however, need to spend time learning how to lay the foundation in a manner that is consistent with their stages of development.
The Little Dragons Program will also prepare your child for our Junior Dragons Program. In the Little Dragon classes, your child will be exposed to positive social interaction. They will learn how to work with others and follow directions from their instructors. Our Little Dragon instructors are good role models who are trained specifically to work with children of this age.
So how young is too young? Do your homework. work out what your goals are for your child and try to ensure they fit with what the child wants too. Check out the schools, the classes and the instructors. Simple right?