I published this a while ago. It’s good advice for those who want to put their kids in the martial arts.
I’ve developed and taught youth programs for 30 years. They can be a great idea for kids but many studios are built on bullshit, marketing, and lies. Please consider the following :
- Style and lineage doesn’t matter, good teaching does.
- Most teachers have no training with children. They’ve never been in a classroom or worked with teachers or schools. You might not hire them as a babysitter. Get a CV or resume.
- Most studios don’t do background checks on their teachers, something that every school volunteer must do. Think about that, and then ask.
- Many kids programs are franchises, kind of like buying a McDonalds. They’re designed to maximize income and are about as healthy as McNuggets.
- Too many studios are profit focused. There is no reason to demand a contract. Most of the fees are bullshit. Also trophies, patches and a lot of the equipment are just a profit centers and won’t help your child. A good school just charges monthly tuition of around $80-100 a month, period.
- Watch for buzzwords like ‘self esteem’ or ‘discipline’ or ‘bullying prevention’. They’re mostly baloney. Your child might develop these qualities but no more than a good soccer or baseball program. If they’re being stressed you know the teacher is full of crap.
- Sparring is fighting and learning to fight won’t stop bullying, it’ll just starts fights. Board breaking is just stupid. Confidence comes from support and success, not beating the crap out of another kid or a piece of wood.
- Mystic martial arts bullshit is very deep. Enough tigers or dragons already. This isn’t the movies or ancient Asia. Avoid teachers who don’t seem to know that or demand too much ‘respect’.
- A good school should stress the following things: Impulse control, conflict dynamics, balance, patience, centering, correct technique, and self protection. Class size matters just like regular school.
- The real value of martial arts is the ability to function under the stress of attack and the confidence that goes with that. It can also give kids skills to help with transitions. Find a studio that knows this and can teach it.
I really hope this helps. Martial Arts are great for kids if you ask a few questions and make a good choice. You know, just like you do with the other things in your child’s life.