So your kid is showing an interest in martial arts. That’s great — but with so many martial arts schools competing for business these days, it can be confusing for parents; you might have trouble determining what school, teacher and program will suit your child best. While no one martial art is inherently superior to another, there’s likely one that will be best suited for your child. The martial arts in general can have benefits for any child, but here are seven tips for getting more specific and making an informed decision:
1. Learn About the Different Martial Arts
Educate yourself about mainstream martial arts such as karate, judo, taekwondo and kickboxing; get a sense of which might be right for your child. Surf the web, read a few books or even sit through a local class or two. Try and match the sport to your child; if your child tends to be aggressive and active, kickboxing might be a good fit. Taekwondo is one of the most popular martial arts, increasing the likelihood your child will meet friends through the sport. Judo involves moves where participants are pinned on the ground, so if your child has an aversion to this type of contact, judo might not be a fit.
2. Talk to Your Kids
Once you know the basics of mainstream martial arts, talk to your kids about them. Find out what they already know and get a feel for their interests and preferences. History and tradition in martial arts is practiced and emphasized in some schools — will they be interested in learning about that? Many schools also emphasize respect and self-discipline alongside physical training. Prepare your child for all of these aspects of training.
3. Research Schools
Make a list of the martial arts schools in your area and determine which ones have a formal education program for their teachers. See that there are teaching ranks required in addition to the achievement of belts or degrees. Teaching ranks indicate that the instructor has been educated in how to best manage a classroom and teach crucial skills to students.
4. Weigh Costs and Benefits
Consider the costs you will incur for private martial arts instruction for your kids. If it’s going to tax your budget, bear in mind that there are also excellent not-for-profit schools available as well. Some non-profits may require you and your child to volunteer as part of compensation, but this could be another excellent exercise in character-building. Also look into the cost of equipment, which can be pricey if you purchase it from the school. Some schools offer one month free with the purchase of gloves or a gi. You may be able to find the equipment for a much more reasonable price online. For MMA gear and equipment I would recommend www.knucklesdown.net, it is a comparison shopping site for martial arts gear and equipment.
5. Ask Around for Feedback
Find out what sort of reputation the martial arts schools have in your community. Ask around among other parents whose kids have taken classes. Look for positive word of mouth as well as evidence that the school and its teachers truly care about the students and the community they are serving.
6. Meet Potential Instructors
Visit the schools you are interested in and talk to the instructors. Sit in on a couple of classes at the school. See if the instructors control classes well and keep students’ attention. Notice if the students seem engaged and whether or not they are truly enjoying the experience.
7. Screen the Facility
Take a good look around the potential school your child will be training in. See that it is organized, safe and clean. Ideally, the students will clean up the hall before and after each lesson. (This is not forced menial labor; it is about instilling discipline, responsibility and respect.) Make sure that the school has adequate liability insurance and find out their procedure(s) should your child require medical attention.