What Parents Need To Know

Parents today face the daunting task of juggling work and entertainment with their children's activities. When a child comes home and asks to take martial arts lessons, parents have to fit them into an already busy schedule filled with little league, soccer, basketball, volleyball, hockey, drama class, music lessons, gymnastics, and dance lessons. And because parents generally develop their perception of martial arts from the action movies like Karate Kid and Bourne Identity, video games and television series such as Ninja Turtles, they might be reluctant to enroll their child in such a violent activity.

More than any other extracurricular, however, martial arts focuses on the character development of a child in a positive and uplifting manner. Unfortunately, today s television shows that show martial art fighting action do not illustrate the positive impact that martial arts can have in the life of a child. While training in martial arts teaches children to fight better, to hit, punch and kick well, there is much more to martial arts. The following are some FAQs in order to better help parents understand the benefits of training in martial arts.

Traditional training includes learning the time honored lessons, using the ancient order of learning each activity, and understanding and obeying the martial arts school's hierarchy.

In traditional training, the focus is on each individual improving and growing from within. Parents quickly will see in their child obvious improvements from traditional training such as increased confidence, self-control and respect.

In sport training, much of the same information is learned, but students are taught to spar earlier in class. There is less emphasis on forms, stances and self-defense practice and the win/lose mentality is emphasized. The focus in sport training is to become a better fighter.

Is it wrong to consider the location when selecting a school for my child?

Certainly not! It is probably the most popular reason a parent will choose a school. A big advantage for choosing a location close to home is that it is the easiest for you and your child to attend. If your child needs a ride to class then the closer the better! The fewer the obstacles a parent has to get to class, the more often your child will attend, and the longer your child will remain.

Another way to choose a school is to get a recommendation from a friend. It is also very important for a parent to go to class with the child and observe one or two classes. If you are comfortable with what you see and hear, your child will probably be comfortable too. A parent should weigh the benefits of a close location versus a martial arts school at a greater distance but with a superior instructor. Each is important in making you child s experience in martial arts a positive one. Children often behave differently when being watched by their parents, so please know that even if they may seem easily frustrated when you are watching, after you leave, they will be comfortable.

Are all schools the same?

Absolutely not! There are many martial arts schools, and it is important to choose one that you and your child like and is easy to attend. In class, your child will be working hard to remember everything and to do things never before imagined. Children are exposed to far more than just self-defense in martial arts: children's minds become stronger through their instructors rigorous exercises and proper techniques. Consequently, children become smarter by being placed in situations that require lightning quick responses and become stronger by increasing their strength through regular exercise. They also reduce injuries in all their physical activities by increasing their flexibility through a regular stretching program. Martial arts also improves a child s knowledge of the world through an exposure to Korean culture. The longer you child attends, the more your child will know.

Are tournaments good for a child? How do I know if I should take my child to tournaments?

Simple, if your son or daughter wants to attend a tournament, then take your child! Tournaments offer many new and exciting experiences for a child. A child will see other children performing patterns, sparring, and breaking techniques. It can be a real learning experience, along with some pretty exciting moments while you child is waiting to compete. It s like six months of lessons and learning in a single day.

Tournaments offer an opportunity for a child to observe many other children that are also in martial arts. Some children will be more advanced and others will be less advanced. Sometimes a long-term friendship can be made with someone your child will meet at a tournament. It can also be a real bonding experience for your child with other students from your child s own school.

Why select a traditional Martial Arts school?

In traditional martial arts, children compete only with themselves. Traditional martial arts stresses learning about inner peace, being calm, quiet and self-confident. Competitive school cultivate the win/lose mentality of children activities. If a parent wants their child to be competitive in martial arts, as well as football, baseball, soccer and other Western sports, martial arts tournaments are available to students in traditional schools and the competition schools. However, if a child is attending a martial arts school that requires participating in officiated tournaments, then it will no longer be a choice. There is always an unofficial competition in any traditional school between a student and himself or herself because the focus of traditional training is introspective and is on self-improvement.

How can I keep my child interested in lessons long enough for them to be of value?

It is important to know about the difficulty many children might experience when they begin martial arts training. If you have ever taken lessons yourself, you may not be aware of just how demanding martial arts can be for children and adults. martial arts requires high energy, concentration and commitment.

After your child has been attending a few months, expect to notice improvements in self-control, self-discipline, and increased attention span and ability to concentrate, and an increase in focus and commitment. Many parents also notice improvements in their child s patience, understanding, self-confidence and respect for others.

Almost everyone, adults as well as children, feel frustration, anger and disappointment during the first several sessions in martial arts. Children may think there is something wrong with them and that they are the only one having difficulty. Students are not very open about what they feel in class and supportive parents can help their children by talking about what they are feeling in class. It is important for children to learn that almost everyone, including adults that begin martial arts, feel frustrated, overwhelmed and disappointed at first. Many people do not break a board on their first try.

Being a supportive parent and talking with your child about class experiences will be fun for you and will let your child know that you are interested. A supportive parent removes all obstacles in the child s path to getting to lessons. Obstacles include a long trip to class, leaving for lessons hungry and putting conditions on attending class. If you use lessons as leverage to motivate your child to do chores or unpleasant tasks, your child quickly will stop going to lessons. Never use martial arts as leverage or bargaining with your child about attending class. Remove obstacles from them arriving at class.

What do you do when your child wants to quit after only a few weeks of lessons?

If your child watches movies and television shows with exciting martial art action scenes, when they probably are very thrilled with the opportunity to learn martial arts. It sure looks easy in the movies, television and video games! The excitement of attending a real martial arts school diminishes quickly when faced with the demanding mental and physical exercises the instructor will have them do. If a child begins class with an unrealistic fascination with martial arts, after a few classes, the child may need to find a new reason for going to martial arts. Speak to the instructor on how to motivate your child in a more appropriate manner.

For those that train for many months, the successes and achievements during each class will replace the novelty and excitement of emulating the action heroes and video game characters. Over several months of attending

the school regularly, your child will be able to accomplish many of the things that once seemed impossible to do at the beginning.

The objective for every parent is to help his or her child have the most rewarding experience in martial arts possible. Understanding why you child wants to study martial arts is crucial to keeping your child in the program. Help make your child s experience in martial arts a positive one that will allow your child to succeed as never before!


  • Examine several schools - Check out several schools, rather than just going to the closest martial arts school. The teaching style of schools can vary significantly - from very regimented to overly loose.
  • Visit different classes - After you have found a good school, visit different classes (versus just the basic introductory class). Visit the black belt classes, sparring classes and even belt tests. See if the school's attitude changes as the children advance. You don't want to find a school that changes in a negative way (i.e. becomes too relaxed) as your child progresses to higher belts. 
  • Ask questions - Talk to other parents & children at the school to find out their likes and dislikes about the school and instructors.
  • Focus on safety - Is there enough stretching? What happens if a child is hurt? What level of supervision is given during sparring classes?
  • Always get an introductory trial - See if your child enjoys Martial Arts. Ask if the school has a short introductory trial offer that covers a few classes and use that time to see if your child enjoys Martial Arts and is mature enough to handle the instruction.
  • What is the "real" cost? - Make sure to find out the real cost of the class. Beyond the monthly/annual fee, what additional costs will you pay? Be aware that you are likely to pay for items such as uniforms, sparring gear and belt tests.
  • Practice with them - You need to help them train. In the evenings, help them prepare for their belt tests. Have them show you the forms, kicks and other things that they have learned. 
  • Make your child stretch - Since kids are so flexible, you might think they don't need to stretch. However, they can get hurt without adequate stretching. 
  • Try to go several times per week - Going once a week is not enough time to master the appropriate techniques. Your children won't enjoy the classes if they are not at least "average students". Who wants to be the worst in the class? Those kids that go at least several times per week are usually the best in the class!
  • Encourage them - "Wow, that was a great kick! Can you show me some more?" Remember, your kids are looking for your approval & love.
  • Confidence & coordination - Your child will learn confidence and coordination that will help them excel at other sports.
  • Self-defense -  Remember that Martial Arts is fun for your child but they will also be learning self-defense. The aim is not to hurt anyone. However, all children should know some self-defense moves in order to deflect school yard bullies or the growing problem of wackos on the street. However, reinforce that they are not superheros and that the first move should be to yell for a teacher, policeman, Mom, etc. The instructors at our Martial Arts school teach basic self-defense moves such as what to do if someone grabs you.
  • Instructor/Class - See if the class is more of a family instead of a "money maker". You want your child to earn their belts instead of the school using your child to make a profit. If the Instructor is giving out black belts (there are junior black belts so be careful) to anyone under 17 years of age its probably an Instructor that cares more about your monthly dues than what your child is learning. Ask if the Instructors gets his primary income from the school? If you find a school where they don't and teach for the love of it then you have probably found a school that puts your child's needs first.