At East Valley Martial Arts, our Kids Karate Program for ages six through twelve is our most popular program. Parents appreciate that our instructors reinforce traditional values for children. I cannot speak to what other schools do, as my specialty is teaching here. However, with a little research, parents from other areas can determine if other traditional kids’ karate programs are appropriate for their children.
1) SELF DEFENSE IN KIDS KARATE
When it comes to self defense, I focus on what we do here. (Parents whose children earned black belts in sport karate have told me that their children were unfortunately not able to protect themselves in physical incidents.) Karate was first developed as a life protection art. And as a traditional school, we uphold and preserve that tradition. Everything we do, even in our kids’ karate program, comes from a base of life protection. We build on the skills of defending ourselves, and with time that branches out into protecting others.
2) RESPECT IN MARTIAL ARTS
While practicing those physical self defense skills, respect is required in kids karate. We expect, use, and uphold respect in every class. For example, kids bow to their partners and constantly work on helping their partner train and improve. If they are bigger or higher in rank, they are responsible for not taking advantage of their size or rank. We promote mutual respect among everyone at the dojo. We also discuss Dojo Kun number four and respect frequently. With plenty of practice and reinforcement at home, respect becomes second-nature to the young martial artist.
One way karate builds self confidence is through that self defense. If you have faced off with multiple partners and survived and thrived, you go into the world with more confidence. Therefore, arming kids with the skills to protect themselves allows them to let go of fear and to feel more confident.
3) CONFIDENCE THROUGH KIDS KARATE
Kids karate promotes confidence in many other ways. One thing it provides is a positive, supportive group of peers and role models. Another bridge to confidence is the building of their strength, stamina, agility, balance and fitness through the exercise provided in regular classes. Those physical improvements build self-belief. Last, kids have a chance to earn tickets, stripes and belts. We do not give these things away here. Students earn them. And that builds confidence. Students use the self-confidence built through childhood karate throughout their lives.
I have seen the magic of karate work in the lives of countless students who have gone through our Kids Program. It has been proven time and again. In conclusion, I agree wholeheartedly with this quote from Chuck Norris, “Karate is the best thing you can do for your child.”
By Jenifer Tull-Gauger