Posts Tagged ‘selecting a martial arts school for children’

Choosing A Martial Arts School For Children in Phoenix Arizona

May 31, 2011

Choosing A School

Taekwondo for Children - Karate for Kids

” The children’s program at USA Martial Arts Phoenix is outstanding and provides an environment for children to develop as individuals and leaders with strong character and values.”

– Michael W., Phoenix AZ

Things to consider when choosing a Martial Arts School

A martial arts school is a unique thing within our community – more than a place for fitness and social activity, it is a place designed to promote personal growth and to enhance character development. When looking for the right martial arts school for yourself or your child, we believe you consider the following factors:

Traditional System Foundation
Look for a school that teaches has one traditional or classical art as their foundation- karate, judo, aikido, taekwondo, kung-fu, etc., not several. An old martial arts proverb says that the hunter who shoots at two rabbits misses both. As a beginner, you want to focus on one thing and learn it well, perhaps before moving on to another art. It is unwise and ill advised to be a, “Jack of all trades and Master of none.” Also be leery of schools that claim to teach their “own style”. Every legitimate school from Karate, Taekwondo, or Kung Fu creates a unique curriculum but it should be based on proven methods and decades of experience. Think of it much as you would a university.

Martial Arts Style
Style srefers to a way of teaching a specific art – not to a differentiation between arts. Karate, taekwondo, and kung-fu are different martial arts, not different styles. In the same way, the Japanese/Okinawan arts of judo, jujitsu, aikido, sumo, kendo, iado, yudo, etc. are different martial arts, not different styles of karate (although this has become a common way of describing it to the uninformed). The major styles of karate are Shotokan, Shorin Ryu, Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu, Wado Ryu, Isshin Ryu, and Uechi Ryu. The major traditional styles of Taekwondo are Moo Duk Kwan (Tang Soo Do), Chung Do Kwan, Song Moo Kwan, Ji Do Kwan. Today Taekwondo is commonly referred to by its political affiliations namely, WTF (Olympic or World Taekwondo), ITF, and ATA. Wushu is the generalized inclusive modern name for Chinese Martial Arts (commonly referred to as Kung Fu). Some common Kung Fu (Wushu) styles are Hsing-I, Wing Chun, Hungar, 5 Animal, and Shoalin Kempo- but there are hundreds.

Martial Arts Rank System
Most martial arts today utilize a ranking system for its practitioners. In the Japanese martial arts (karate, judo, etc.) the ranking system usually consists of black belt and a variety of colored belts leading up to black belt. These pre-black belt ranks usually start with white belt and end, just below black belt, with brown belt. The ranks in between are signified by several other colors that may vary from school to school. Our pre-black belt (or class/grade) ranks are as follows: Gold, Orange, Green, Purple, Blue, Brown, and Red. Black Belt ranks range from 1st degree through 10th degree black belt. Various titles are assigned according to leadership responsibility, much like Military Rank. Tenth level Black Belt is generally reserved for the founder of the system, the one person at the top of an organization of an art, or a life long practitioner of the art. Legitimate systems usually require a minimum age of 35 with 25 plus years of intense practice for the rank of “Master”. There are only a handful of true 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Degree Black Belts in each martial art through out the entire world. And all known legitimate martial artists at this level are above 50 years of age.

Martial Arts National or International Organizations
Does the school belong to a recognized national or international organization? Most good schools are part of such organizations. This is one indication but not necessarily a guarantee.

Instructor Credentials in Martial Arts
All legitimate martial arts instructors have credentials to verify their rank and/or any titles they hold (Master, Grandmaster, etc). Some questions you might ask include: Where did they get their rank? Did they promote themselves? Or were they promoted by people within their own organization who are beneath them in rank? A person can’t give himself a BA, MA, or Ph.D degree, nor can they be promoted to such a degree by someone who only holds a BA degree themselves. In the same way, a person can’t promote themselves to any degree of black belt. And they can’t be promoted by people who aren’t qualified to make such a promotion. Unfortunately, self-promotion and promotion by an unqualified “board” are very common within the martial arts. To be considered legitimate, a person must be promoted through their black belt ranks by someone who is at least two black belt levels above them (In our system, only a Master can promote an individual in any rank). Ask if the instructor belongs to the same organization that issued their rank? (They should. Many move upwards in rank by switching from organization to organization.) Do their credentials seem to make sense? Ones that may not are a 25-year-old instructor claiming a high black belt rank (above 4th degree) or rank in several different arts. Does the instructor have any teaching certification beyond their rank certification? A black belt doesn’t suddenly make someone qualified to teach. They must complete an additional program to learn this skill.

Instructor Personality for Teaching Martial Arts
You should take special notice of the instructor as he teaches. The instructor may not be the person who greets you or even who gives you your first lesson or two – often called introductory classes. You want to make sure the personality of the instructor suits you and/or your children.

Sport vs. Self Defense Martial Arts
Do they offer, recommend, or require competition? To be useful, students must be paired up for dual practice. Do they utilize adequate safety gear for these sessions? How much control is utilized? We do not, but some schools require full or semi-full contact during paired sessions, which we consider dangerous, especially to children.

Martial Arts Weapons
If you are interested in weapons training, be sure to ask if the school teaches them. Not all schools do. The traditional Japanese/Okinawan weapons are not actually designed as weapons. They were originally farm and fishing tools used by Japanese and Okinawan people in their daily jobs. And, since real weapons were banned, they were forced to use these tools when attacked by those with real weapons. Other Martial Arts weapons have a history all their own including military traditions. At USA Martial Arts Phoenix, we offer training in these ancient and contemporary practical weapons to those in a Black Belt training program. Mastery of each of these requires different physical and mental skills. As such, they round a student out, provide great motivation for practice and develop unique attributes and extraordinary control and timing. Some require greater concentration, others greater strength, etc, making them a great training tool for children, who become quickly bored.

Watch or participate in a class
Can you watch a class before you or your children join? Many schools discourage observation. We encourage it. We also offer an introductory class for a nominal fee to allow potential students to get a feel for our school before committing to a program.

Program length
It takes time to acquire skill at self defense and develop the life changing qualities a good martial arts school seeks to instill in its students – making them healthier, happier, and more accomplished. (These qualities include self control, self discipline, self confidence, and self esteem.) Something acquired quickly is usually forgotten just as quickly. As a result, most schools require a year commitment. However, there may be other options.

Inquire at the school.
Final Thoughts Keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It takes hard work, dedication, time, and willingness to grow to achieve a black belt in any art or system. And it takes the right instructor, art or style, setting, and the support of ones fellow students to reach that point. In some schools, students have a (negative) competitive attitude towards each other, especially newcomers. Avoid these. Some schools also spend most of their time entertaining students, playing games, or teaching bogus techniques that don’t work in real situations. You want a school that will help you or your child reach their goals in life, not hamper them.

Make sure you feel comfortable with the school (including the instructors and fellow students) before taking the first step and making that commitment.

Frequently Addressed Questions
Karate will be one of the best things you can do for your Child

The self-image, self-confidence, self-discipline, and self-control your child develops today will determine the level of happiness and success he or she will be allowed to experience as an adult. Science has proven that authentic traditional martial arts can aid your child develop all of the above qualities, and more, leading to a healthier, happier, and more successful life. USA Martial Arts Phoenix training also gives children and teenagers something gravely needed in today’s world – the strength not only to say “NO” to negative, potentially harmful peer pressure but to also back up their words with deeds. Our young students become the leaders of their peer groups, not the compliant followers who must do whatever is necessary to appease the group, to fit in, to be accepted. USA Martial Arts Phoenix offers your child benefits which are critically needed in today’s world. Learning a disciplined art like this will help your child with:

Improved grades
Respect for others
Leadership skills
Increased concentration
Coordination and dexterity
Goal-setting and achievement

Can Adults enroll at USA Martial Arts Phoenix?

Absolutely Yes. Martial Arts for Men and Women is fun yet challenging and capable of honing you gradually into the best shape of your life. You will lose weight; gain greater energy and stamina; develop a strong, toned, healthy body; and fight premature aging, resulting in a longer, healthier life. And, it is the perfect life-long activity. It can be practiced at any age, does not require exceptional flexibility or natural talent, and requires no special equipment, facilities, or other people to practice. Plus, it gives you the ultimate in self defense. the physical side of Traditional Martial Arts – its awesome, legendary fighting skills and total body mastery – is only the beginning. It also offers a wide range of mental and spiritual qualities as well. These include self-control and discipline to achieve success, mental calmness in emergencies, stress management, confidence to enjoy more of life, and leadership skills. It is also a great place to meet wholesome, new friends. People who want a positive, healthy lifestyle for themselves and their families can find it at USA Martial Arts Phoenix.

A Black Belt in Karate can help your Child’s admission to a top College

USA Martial Arts students are currently attending, or have attended, some of the most prestigious universities and high schools in the world. Admissions decision-makers at top universities and high schools are swamped with highly qualified applicants. All have top grades and high SATs. How do they decide who they will allow entrance? Well, they look for other accomplishments that set some applicants apart from most of the others. A black belt in Martial Arts, especially from a world-renowned school like USA Martial Arts (Phoenix respected and most award-winning martial arts school), makes an applicant unique. It offers independent proof that the applicant is an extraordinary person – someone who has achieved what few within our society can claim – a black belt in traditional legendary martial arts.