There are several methods of having children in martial arts classes. They range from babysitting to character building to physical skills. Which one is best? Yes. It depends upon what you want your child to learn…and how old they are. It is also very dependent upon the skills, knowledge, talents, and personalities of the teachers. Since I do not have the personality to work with the real young ones (ages 4-6), I refer them to other schools that have quality teachers and programs. They aren’t my competition. Schools have students that fit the personality of that school. This brings us to why this post has been made.

Now, I admit to being a creation of the methods that I was taught during my early years of training. Doing a community education class with the restriction of two nights per week with two hours of class time made development and teaching a challenge. The first hour was complete beginners with no previous experience. The second hour was everyone else. This meant that all ages were in each class plus all ranks being in the second class. As the martial arts industry has evolved, so has the class scheduling and the lesson plans.

As I mentioned earlier, there are benefits to all of the variations of children’s training. I lean toward the one that I came through, all ages train together, from the results that I’ve seen. Many children have developed farther than their peers in understanding and comprehension. These are the ones to benefit most from training with other ages. I don’t have many ckildren in class. The average age of my school is 25 years old. That is very different from the majority of martial arts school. This means that if a child is in my classes, they are quick to learn, willing to work, follow directions and support the other students.

If you ask anyone in the school, “Are there children in class?” The answer that you’ll get is “No, thare are students.” This understanding is what allows the children to keep up and develop in class. They know that they are expected to do all the same work as those who are older. This is not only true for rank promotions but also for helping in class. At any time during class, you can see senior students helping junior students. This happens even when the senior student is younger.

The older senior students understand that they are part of building the tribe (school) and support younger students. This happens often and usually as a challenge. The photo here illustrates this. The student (9 year old First Gup) leading basic cuts for a group of Yudansha (black belts) ranging from 2nd Dan to 4th Dan. They give her some lattitude on the commands and counting but only what they are told. This gives the opportunity for the student to learn how to lead drills. Other opportunities include teaching techniques and drills. 

These chances to lead part of class quickly shows which students are willing to learn and grow. The adults who aren’t truly interested in learning and/or have preconceived ideas about what they should be doing can have a difficult time listening to a child. The tribe supports members to help them develop and grow. Children that learn this early will succeed in everything they attempt. They will also help others become better.

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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