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Martial Arts for kids?

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  1. #31
    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Taking martial arts with the idea of building discipline, and character, are like OCing with a peace sign on your forehead.

    It is first and formost a war art.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.


  2. #32
    Member Array lordofwyr's Avatar
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    Having had a chance to not only take a lot of different forms over the years (through training), but also having raised four boys and a girl, I can tell you the following from experience - There is no one perfect self defense form. They all have merit as long as they train your child to take immediate, decisive and effective action of some form that is something that they can actually perform.

    American Style Karate is pretty much straight forward punches and kicks, but a Sensei once told me if he EVER saw me try a spinning anything in a real fight, he would personally kick my ass, and unless your kid is Bruce Lee's offspring, they should know that they should not try any of that fancy stuff in real life. Works great in a sparring ring (sometimes), not so much with lots of attackers, grass or concrete for footing.

    Hagana / Krav Maga is a little more realistic on keeping it to a kicks below the belt and straight line punches Bar Room Style fighting, but I never could figure out how to make the twisting/grappling hand moves to tie them up and start the knee shots to the chest, so if I tried that I would be foolish. If they can do it, fine.

    And in the end, a lot of street fights I have been in and also seen with kids end up on the ground grappling, so any form that teaches ground fighting and dominance there is a bonus.

    My motto is "Whatever works for you and whatever works for your kids". You may be able to pull off Kenpo or Tai Kwan Do, Kung Fu or Jiu Jitsu, but your children may not, so they may need a different form and you need to be aware of that.

    And in the end, if all a martial art teaches them is discipline and the ability to do SOMETHING fast, down and dirty and effectively, then they have a foot up already, even if that martial art form was Monty Python's RUN AWAY!!!!

    All five of my kids (including the daughter) all were told many times, if I find you started it, participated in starting or forcing it without a really really good cause (like saving a kid from being bullied), you will answer to me. If I find they forced it on you, then I want you to end it quickly, painfully and decisively so that they and no one else ever want to try again. They all knew that I would be right there in the principal's office backing them up if I felt that they were right in what they did.

    The main thing schools teach kids now days through their stupidity and discipline system is that, if they throw a punch, even in self defense, they were wrong. I call that B#!! *****. A child does not have to be a punching bag to make a school system feel better about itself.

    Good luck on getting the kid(s) bully proofed.
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by glockman10mm View Post
    Taking martial arts with the idea of building discipline, and character, are like OCing with a peace sign on your forehead.

    It is first and formost a war art.
    Yes, but we have transformed it to sport for kids, and that is OK so long as everyone keeps themselves consciously aware of that fact.
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  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speculator View Post
    Giving a female a black belt at 14 is a disgrace and a corruption of the whole idea of martial arts, not to mention dangerous to the child. It gives them the impression they can fight their way out of trouble. I don't know your child's situation but this is abhorrent to me. If a false belief in one's ability to self-defend helps self-control then I guess it's acceptable. But you should sit her down and let her know it is just a hobby and not a means of defending herself.
    Well then, that would depend on the kid and instructor... My oldest is almost ready to earn his black belt and none of what you say is true in our case. He is very clear where he stands in the pecking order of life at his young age, and that is because of a well run school and proper parenting. He knows and understands that TKD is a sport, and the color of his belt does not matter outside of the ring. But, I also have no doubt he can hold his own among his peers. If he chooses to continue on in TKD, if he switches to another art, or even stops all together he will always have a leg up on Joe Schmoe. To teach anything different is a disgrace... you are right about that.
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  5. #35
    Member Array Carnivoire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speculator View Post
    Giving a female a black belt at 14 is a disgrace and a corruption of the whole idea of martial arts, not to mention dangerous to the child. It gives them the impression they can fight their way out of trouble. I don't know your child's situation but this is abhorrent to me. If a false belief in one's ability to self-defend helps self-control then I guess it's acceptable. But you should sit her down and let her know it is just a hobby and not a means of defending herself.
    Hobby? Agreed alot of the content learned is for show and just plain 'Cool' content - however, I will disagree with the ability to defend.
    Training a year for the black belt level included situational awareness, self defense, holds and unarmed defense against weapons along with all the pretty stuff. I have, as her instructors have, stressed this is a suplement when avoiding a fight is not possible. Contact sparing started low in the belts and a minimum requirement set for each increased level.

    The test for her belt was 6+ hrs long, started with running a mile under 8 min....included 3 seperate sparing events wth 1-4th degree black belts - you don't hold your own... you do not pass.

    While I do agree that a teen will not be able to pull off hollywood fight scenes, I do belive that she has SA, will diffuse or can at least get away from most adult males and give as good or better than she receives until she can.
    Specifically, my daughter has avoided may situations that would have 'sucked' her in before martial arts and has stood in the way for people tryin to push others - With Out Force being required. 180º turn arround from herself at 8yrs old.
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  6. #36
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    All five of my kids (including the daughter) all were told many times, if I find you started it, participated in starting or forcing it without a really really good cause (like saving a kid from being bullied), you will answer to me. If I find they forced it on you, then I want you to end it quickly, painfully and decisively so that they and no one else ever want to try again. They all knew that I would be right there in the principal's office backing them up if I felt that they were right in what they did.
    That was exactly the message we gave ours. It is a powerful message to young'uns. It shows parental love and support, as well as discipline and caring. All needed in abundance in today's world.
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  7. #37
    Senior Member Array Lotus222's Avatar
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    Lots of good responses, here. I think Sixto has it on the money. As a student of martial arts for over 9 years, when I was young, I wholeheartedly agree.

    Children won't and don't need to take the self defense aspect of martial arts as the primary focus. The same benefits of a typical sport (structure, team building, trust, physical benefits, ect) are grouped with individuality, discipline, mental and physical perseverance, integrity, self control, ect. Plus, the kids will have fun, make friends, and learn some life lessons. The entire self defense aspect of the martial art will start to sink in, later. Eventually, kids learn that they have learned some real-world skills to defend themselves - and that the real world can be a scary place. You don't want to crush a kids innocence with military-style, real world self defense classes. Let them train like that when they get older.

    So which style to pick? I enjoyed taekwondo when I was younger. I appreciated judo as I got older, and I found some arts (like kung fu) to be a little hokey. I couldn't tell anyone which to pick. I know that I would want my kid at a place that had plenty of students around their age. Feel out the instructor, and you should get a vibe for how you feel about them, just like you would any other person. Your kid should be able to let you know whether or not they are enjoying themselves.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speculator View Post
    Giving a female a black belt at 14 is a disgrace and a corruption of the whole idea of martial arts, not to mention dangerous to the child. It gives them the impression they can fight their way out of trouble. I don't know your child's situation but this is abhorrent to me. If a false belief in one's ability to self-defend helps self-control then I guess it's acceptable. But you should sit her down and let her know it is just a hobby and not a means of defending herself.
    I'm sorry you feel this way. I don't agree with your blanket statement. Would you feel the same if Carnivoire had a 14 year old son?

    My 15 year old daughter currently holds a Second Degree Black Belt in Karate and will test for her Third Degree this year. She has studied and practiced with great dedication and honor for 10 years to reach this point. She also is a student of BJJ and has achieved the highest belt ranking she can get until she turns 16 under the Gracie System. Can she defend her self - yes in most circumstances and she has the maturity and self-confidence to avoid conflict if possible. Her training has helped her learn to carry herself and has earned the respect of the adults who know her. In a recent event, she was with several other children in a large store when a storm hit and took the power out. The other kids panicked. She remained calm, took control, pulled her Fenix and led the kids to safety. She's also a damn fine marksman with every firearm I own.

    - Lima
    As others have said, visit as many schools and trial courses as possible. Watch what goes on with multiple classes. Don't limit yourself to a single style. Look for schools that are well run, that don't focus only on being a belt mill, and that teach not only the technical skills but also the life skills to go with them. You also want the instruction to be age appropriate. If he learns self-discipline, the value of hard work and respect for others then it will be time well spent. With you as his Mom, guiding him, he will do fine.
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  9. #39
    Senior Member Array MotorCityGun's Avatar
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    Lima, as a point of reference, I have been actively involved in (Japanese/Shotokan) martial arts for the past 30+ years. That's not to say that I'm Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan rolled into one, however, over the years I have had the opportunity to witness and participate in many different "styles" of martial arts, including kid's MA programs.

    I've read all of the responses, thus far, and there are pearls of insight/experience/wisdom in the majority of them, however, the ones that emphasize the quality of the instructor(s) and how s/he interacts with the kids are, by far, the ones you should pay attention to the most.

    It's also ok to ask the owner/head instructor if this is their full time job. Running a MA school for a living as opposed to for the love/passion of the "art", are two entirely different motivations. Also, avoid schools which require you to sign a contract. Pay as you go or (multi-)month fees should be the extent of your financial commitment.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
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  10. #40
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    Whatever martial arts, it is only as good as the instructor. I took Judo as a kid, tried tae kwondo, and also took some aikido in college. Judo is much more rough and tumble and I had a great time. My instructor taught me a lot more than just the art. You also have to truly earn the belts. It is also a sport so you spend a lot of time wrestling around.

    Tae kwondo felt more like you were buying the belt and I found very impractical for self defense.

    Aikido was very defense oriented and had strikes techniques. It is more gentle and less wear and tear on the body. (think steven siegal) It also teaches you to use leverage more than strength. This is better for a disparity of force. I remember I was wrestling around with my brother who also took Judo and used some techniques on him at the beach and he wound up a number of times looking up at the sky. I would probably put my daughter in aikido.

  11. #41
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    Sixto I agree with you completely. My husband has taught TKD for 40 years. It most certainly isn't a disgrace to give a black belt to a 14 year old. That is, as long as
    they EARN it. It does depend on the organization and the instructor. We make them earn each rank even if its high white to yellow belt. Naturally, a 14 year old (or myself as a smaller female) won't be able to go toe to toe with a 250# man. But the lessons learned about life and self are invaluable. I'm prejudiced of course, being in TKD
    for 24 years but we have a huge kid enrollment and they take class along with the adults all the while learning discipline, self control and perseverence in a healthy
    and enjoyable atmosphere. Lima, are there any USTF schools near you??
    We start kids at 6 just because of the attention and focus needed. As for those mentioning striking and causing physical damage, the kids don't hit hard things for that very reason. They don't have the proper control, form and have growth plates still developing. Sparring isn't introduced until later, breaking isn't allowed until a certain age and only with the feet (and 1/2 scale boards as confidence builders). As for those spinning kicks, maybe when you're a red belt. But..the most important thing regardless of the art is for you to visit more than once and feel comfortable with the instructor and the program. Enjoy!!
    Last edited by surefire7; January 24th, 2012 at 07:49 PM. Reason: add content.
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  12. #42
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    I'm a Martial Arts Instructor (Kenpo) and a DT Instructor for my police agency. I have 25 years of experience, 19 of that teaching. In my experince, it all depends on the child. Some children have the attention span at 3, some still don't have it at 10. I tried to teach my son when he was 3, and he wasn't ready yet. When he was about 4 1/2, I bought him a Gi (karate uniform) and gave him a white belt. He dialed right in. He was able to pay attention for the whole 30 min lesson. He took to it very well.

    I am a firm believer that it is the ARTIST not the ART. If one is able to apply themself, they will suceed in any art. That being said, I do think that a striking art should be mastered before any grappling art. Every grappler that I have met tells me that every fight ends on the ground. Not true. I am proficient enough in my art that I was able to end many street situations without grappling. Sometimes you do end up there, but I prefer to stand and be able to use all of my personal weapons.

    Too bad Krav Maga is not available around your area. It is a good art. It is very basic and easy for children to retain. I recently became certified to teach Krav to my PO's b/c of its simplicity. Cops don't put the time in to train and become proficient at a complicated art. So Krav is perfect because of its basic principles.

    Whatever you choose for your son, make sure that he understands the discipline. I had to give my son a break from taking lessons b/c he used it at a sporting event. He wasn't 100% wrong, but he didn't make the "right" choice. I'm about to get him started again. I think that he learnd his lesson.

    Good luck. Martial Arts are much more than SD. Your son will excel at everything that he does b/c of his increased focus, balance and flexibility.
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  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by NY27 View Post
    I do think that a striking art should be mastered before any grappling art.
    A good point that I agree with. Rolling in the dirt with you is not the first or best approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by NY27 View Post
    Too bad Krav Maga is not available around your area. It is a good art.
    Agreed, This will likely be the next set of skills Tori has expressed an interest in learning.

    Quote Originally Posted by NY27 View Post
    Your son will excel at everything that he does b/c of his increased focus, balance and flexibility.
    I definitely think the skills she learned have contributed to her 3.95 GPA in her second year of high school (would be 4.0 but geometry gave her a hard time).
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  14. #44
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    At the ripe old age of three, I doubt the USMC will take him or school him. That's my favorite school. Other than that, what you want for your son and what he needs might be two different things at this point. You want him to learn martial arts, but is he ready? Formal schooling is good, but it's like sending a puppy to obedience class when you are not working with the dog to start with. They'll never really conform to you unless you attend the same class and learn more about your dog. Martial arts is fine. Teaches discipline, but also teaches kata. Kata was never a favorite of mine since it teaches one firm way of doing things and one approach. In the real world, one needs to think beyond one approach or dealing with the problem at hand. Don't get me wrong......instilling the combat mind needs to start somewhere.

  15. #45
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    Lots of options out there it seems and I'm sure they all have their strong points. I agree with the ones that say visit many places and see what fits best and if he is ready.

    I live and grew up a long way from any TKD or Karate type classes which I would have really enjoyed learning. The only type we had was wrestling which I will admit is not the greatest but its what we had and it had its pros. With wrestling I learned at a young age how to take people down and put holds on them they were not able to get out of. No striking aloud. I took up barnyard boxing when I grew older and any fights I got into (many of them I shouldn't have) I could easily take my opponents down and pound them until they submitted or put holds on them until the submitted. The best plus about learning wrestling when I was young was that fighting wasn't allowed at school but you could get away with wrestling. I doubt you can now but at that time you could.

    Many options out there and I hope you and your son the best of luck finding what you both feel is fun, disiplined, and has the opportunity to further his skill as he grows up.

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