Whether you’re determined that your child will be the next Bruce Lee, or want him or her challenged by a new workout program that increases grace and agility as well as increases muscle tone and stamina, or are just sick at heart of hearing about your kid getting hassled by the punks on the schoolyard, martial arts are the answer parents in your position have been turning to for hundreds of years.
Why Martial Arts Classes For Your 6-12 Year-Old?
Kids at the elementary school age are perfect candidates for martial arts for a variety of reasons. At the early end of the age range is the challenge of going to school for the first time, where every kid who isn’t in your class is a ‘big kid,’ which can be downright intimidating. It’s also where many children experience their first unwelcome peer-to-peer contact—or as it used to be called, bullying. And at the other end of the age range, hormones have begun kicking in and behavioral issues may begin to come to the forefront on the home front.
All of these are issues that martial arts programs for kids from 6-12 years of age are specifically designed to address. The first thing every new martial artist learns is the importance of respect. Lack of respect is not tolerated at the academy, and is heavily discouraged in the student’s conduct away from school, too. Rewards are given for courteous behavior, and discourtesy is called out and addressed on the spot.
Given equal importance, as respect for others is instruction in self-respect. If a child experiences his or her own self-worth and places value upon it, they are much more likely to place value on the worth of others as well. The self-confidence that follows adherence to, and advancement in, the martial arts can become the North Star that will guide your child down a path of unselfconscious righteousness as they journey toward adulthood.
Physical fitnessand self-defense for kid instruction are also ramped-up at this stage of a young martial artist’s development. Martial arts will help your child keep up with the needs of his or her growing body, and do it in a safe, supportive, carefully supervised environment. Students are taught to use their martial arts skills only as a last result in the event of an off-site confrontation, and then to do so responsibly. Some schools even specialize in a strictly non-contact curriculum.
Special Martial Arts Programs For 6-12 Year-Olds
Many academies offer special programs for children who are no longer beginners, but are either still too new or too young to advance to the higher-rank programs. Different schools and disciplines have different names for them, but what they have in common is that most of these programs tend to groom youngsters to be the kind of martial artist and community leader who the school owners would consider hiring when the student reaches the appropriate age and experience level. It is very common for an academy’s top instructors to be and/or have started out as students themselves, back in the day.
As a more seasoned parent was overheard telling a newer parent, “You can send your kid to play soccer, or T-Ball, or almost any kind of ball besides golf, and the experience may well teach them how to operate well as a member of a team. But if your kid succeeds at martial arts, he or she will learn the skills and gain the confidence they need to lead the team, not just play on it.”
Some Age-Appropriate Martial Arts For Parents of 6-12 Year-Olds
Many of the most popular forms of martial arts for this age group, 6-12 years old—Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Taekwondo, Aikido—are considered ‘gentler’ forms of the arts because of their general emphasis on weapons-free training. Most modern versions of most disciplines offer some weapons work, but these are usually ‘show’ weapons at this age—cool-looking, but soft-edged and/or padded for maximum safety.
Among the martial arts most popular for the 6-12 age range, are:
• Jiu Jitsu: A Japanese discipline with an emphasis on self-defense against a more powerful adversary, through grappling and redirection of force.
• Judo: A more recent art of Japanese origin, its emphasis is also more on subduing an attacker than causing them serious injury.
• Taekwondo:A Korean discipline mixing a focus on self-discipline with various combat and self-defense movements.
• Aikido: Another ‘soft’ Japanese art with a self-defense focus, it also uses a more powerful enemy’s advantages against through joint locks and trapping.
Important Questions to Consider Regarding Martial Arts School For 6-12 Year-Olds
Trial Memberships: Most academies are so confident in their discipline and programs that they offer free, or reduced-rate, trial memberships to get new students in the door. How do the trial offers stack up against each other in your area, or in the various studios specializing in the discipline you have chosen? Do you get to keep the uniform if you decide not to proceed with the program at the end of the introductory period?
Multiple Student/Family Discounts: If you have a child from 6-12, chances are, he or she has at least one older or younger sibling. Many schools take this into account, as well as how difficult it can be scheduling various extracurricular activities around multiple children, and offer generous discounts for siblings or family members who sign up at the same time.
Expenses Beyond Membership: At this age, most martial arts begin to incorporate some sort of ‘combat’ instruction, which requires regulation safety gear for the student’s protection at an additional charge. Weapons work, too, is often introduced at this age-range, which also requires purchase of safety-approved sparring weapons.
Schedule: Make sure the schools you are considering offer classes for your children at the times you or someone you designate is available to take them to, and bring them home from classes. Schools try to offer enough class options a week to get every student at every level in as many times as they can make it.
Instructor-to-Student Ratios:At this age, individual attention from instructors becomes an imperative, especially as sparring and weapons-work is introduced. Do the schools you are looking at usually have a ready supply of instructors they can pull off other mats in case absolutely everybody in your 6-12 year-old’s class shows up for the same session?
These are just a few of the considerations when selecting your 6-12 year-old’s martial arts school. Let us help find the right martial arts academy. We’ll do all the legwork for you; just take a few moments to answer some straightforward questions, and based on your responses, you will be presented with a selection of martial arts schools in your area, all of which already meet your search criteria, all at absolutely no cost to you.