There are many myths about martial arts training, and the general public accepts some as fact. In the following article, I have outlined general guidelines, and precautions, for parents who are considering enrolling their child, or children, into martial arts.
Below, I have listed some common issues and questions that parents often ask about martial arts for their children. Also, you will be much more informed about the benefits of martial arts, the structure with a martial arts school, and know what to realistically expect.
What should I be looking for in a martial arts school?
Safety comes as a first priority for parents who seek martial arts instruction for their children. Here are a number of key factors to consider:
Is safety equipment used when children are performing exercises and drills that require contact? This is especially important when children are sparring in martial arts. In many martial arts schools, sparring equipment is required, or the child cannot spar. The number of injuries resulting from sparring in Karate, Kung Fu, and Tae Kwon Do is surprisingly low in comparison to many league sports.
Never the less, I once had a father pull his son out of our martial arts school because he found a karate studio that would let his son “fight" without protective equipment. In our school, it is mandatory to wear martial arts equipment for the safety of the students. Sparring equipment has come a long way, so why not use it?
The flooring surface should match the martial art. If take downs, sweeps, and throws are required, there should be some kind of matted floor available. Many of the state-of-the-art martial arts schools have a floor surface specifically designed for martial arts. It makes no sense to have anyone throw a classmate on a hard floor, with the type of flooring available, as this can result in long-term injuries.
Can parents watch Karate classes?
Let's put it this way, if you cannot watch your child practice karate, or any other martial art, you should find another school. I can appreciate the fact that some martial arts instructors don't want to deal with interfering parents. This is the reason for rules and signs.
Remember the “hockey dad" incident? There are a few people who, through their own conduct, create rules for the rest of us. However, you are the parent and are entitled to see your child train in karate or any martial arts class.
Fire exits, fire extinguishers, and someone who monitors visitors, as they enter a karate studio full of children, should be standard features. We have three fire exits and one main entrance, in our studio, but only one door is used for an entrance. Kids understand security because they see the same precautions in elementary school.
Also, watch out for poles in the middle of the room. Adults will spot them, but an excited child in a karate class may forget and end up crashing into one. Make sure that you feel secure about the studio, surroundings, rules, and the staff before you make a decision to have your child take martial arts classes.
Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. He is a master instructor of martial arts, with multiple Black Belts, four martial arts teaching credentials, and was recently inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He teaches Yoga, martial arts, and fitness to children, adults, and seniors in the greater Providence area. Recently he wrote Yoga: The Key to Self-Mastery. His martial arts site is: http://www.kids-karate.com