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 Martial Arts for Kids
Detailed information on cost, styles and lessons


What is Martial Arts?

Martial arts is a collective term for the many fighting disciplines used for self-defense. They comprise a huge range of styles and systems that come from Korea, Japan and China.  The name of each martial art has a meaning that is important to its history and objectives. 

Martial Arts training is more than just exercise, self-defense and fun.  Students are trained physically and can expect improvements in strength, coordination, stamina, balance and flexibility.  Martial Arts also trains the mind as well as the body, resulting in improved self-awareness, discipline, will power,  concentration, self-discipline, and overall self-confidence.  If your child is not into team sports, such as soccer or football, martial arts is a great activity for them.

When to Start Martial Arts?

There is no definitive age for a child to begin martial arts training.   It is something that you can start at any age and some say a child is never too young to begin a program. There are some schools that offer programs for children as young as 4  years old. These classes provide basics in coordination, motor skills and following directions. When to start lessons really depends on the personality of the child and the type of martial arts program.  Remember that each martial arts style is different and some may be better for older children.  Some martial arts styles stress sports skills and competition, others stress street combat or internal energy, and still others are traditional arts that stress perfection of technique, self discipline and etiquette.  The best style for you is the one that helps you meet the goals you have set for yourself, and that pushes you to take your skills to the next level.

As a parent you are best suited to determine whether your child is mature enough to begin martial arts training. He or she must have the interest and attention span necessary to attentively sit still for their lesson, follow instructions and then mimic actions that are shown to them.  Another good judge of their readiness is can you child stand on one foot?  If the answer is no than he or she isn't ready for classes.

A common age for parents to start their children in martial arts is between the ages of 4 to 10 years old.  Under the age of four is definitely too young.  Four to six depends on the child and the type of martial arts program.  For the majority of children, it's best to wait until they are at around 7 years old before buying them that first uniform.

Remember that starting your child at the right age is a key element to their future success.  A child that is too young could feel overwhelmed or frustrated and then want to stop training.  Waiting an extra year can sometimes make it a much more enjoyable experience.  Realize also that a five year old child can not absorb and apply skills at the same rate or proficiency as older children.  So don't rush them -- make sure that they are ready before signing them up for classes.

When is Registration?

Martial arts lessons are all year round.  In most situations classes are taught on an ongoing basis with no given "start" and "end" date so beginners can start anytime. Some classes for children do coincide with the school terms.  So you would need to ask this question when you contact your local studio. 

Note that often studios will offer a one month trial period where you can go to classes free of charge.  This gives you the opportunity to judge their program and it allows them to evaluate the readiness of your child.



Is Practice At Home Required?

As with any sport or activity practice will improve skills.  So with martial arts follow the philosophy that "practice makes perfect".  One of the major problems with children is the drudgery of practicing.   Set the same time and place, for the day's that they do not attend class, to practice.  One of the many benefits of martial arts is discipline, setting a routine for practice helps to reinforce the discipline that will help to bring about the students success.  As with any sport parent's encouragement and support is vital for your child's success.   For young children 20 or 30 minutes seems like an eternity and they spend more time watching the clock  then practicing.  Instead of setting a time frame, use repetition as your gauge.  For example have your child do each form 3  times per day.  You will find that your child does not pay attention to the amount of time they are practicing but knows that they are on the third time and almost finished.   Ideally, your child should have a place to practice without distractions and it should not disrupt the household. 

How Often Are Lessons?

Lessons are normally 2 to 3 times per week and are typically in the late afternoon and early evening.  Consistency and dedication are the key to the student's success.  It is important for beginners not to expect instant results.  Martial arts take patience and perseverance.  It takes many years to become proficient and trying to rush it by attending class everyday will result in a child getting burnt out.  Attending 2 or 3 times a week it will keep things fresh in their minds and allow their body some rest.   In addition, it will assure that your child learns the curriculum necessary to have them test for the next belt level.    

Martial arts classes are usually always made up of students with mixed ranks. Some students will be beginners and others will have trained for several years. Normally the instructor gives different drills for each level of student. So beginners will work on a simple technique, while advanced students expand their techniques.

Martial arts is a very expensive sport. You have to take into consideration that once you commit to this activity, if your child's goal is a black belt, then you will be going for lessons for a number of years.

How Much Do Lessons Cost?

Prices are determined on a monthly basis, a quarterly basis or by how often you train each week and this varies by studio.  The most common way to pay is on a monthly basis.  In some cases, discounts are offered for multiple family members or by paying in advance. Different schools will have different price structures.  Prices vary based on location.

There are instructors who charge as little as $50 a month for instruction, and those who charge as much as $130 a month or even $50 or more for a single one-hour session.  On the average you can expect to pay between $75 and $90 per month.  You may want to shop around to find the best studio for your budget.

Some schools require you to sign a year contract.  Don't let the option of a contract dissuade you from any particular school but be wary of the content of the contract.  You should be concerned if the contract guarantees a "black belt" within a given time frame or if they will not allow month to month payments.

Are There Any Additional Costs?

In addition to your training fees you may have to pay a fee for rank testing.  Again this fee will vary based on the school.  In general  earlier ranks are usually less expensive than advanced ranks.  For example, it may cost $20 for your first test and then close to $100 for your black belt test.

Although many schools provide you with your first uniform free, as your child grows you will need to buy a new uniform.  Prices for uniforms vary based on the style of martial arts, quality of uniform and student level. You may be able to purchase the uniform through your studio or your instructor should be able to direct you to where you can buy one.

For many schools you will also eventually be required to purchase sparring equipment such as gloves, shin pads, and head gear, or weapons used during practice such as staffs, swords, or knifes.  

You may also be required to register with the martial art organization that certifies the instructor.  Of course registration includes paying membership fees which could be between $20 - $50 a year.  The requirements for these organizations vary, some have dues for "black belt" rank and above only. 

Equipment required for martial arts is minimal.  You will need to purchase a uniform.  A uniform consists of a pair of white cotton trousers and a white cotton jacket.  The jacket is held together by a belt.  The color of the belt changes as your skills progress.  As a beginner you will start off with a white belt.  The uniform is loose fitting.

Many martial arts may recommend that you wear specific shoes targeted to the practice of martial arts. This can be especially true for some forms of kickboxing. But for other types of martial arts like Tae Kwon Do shoes are not recommended.

In addition you may need to purchase sparring equipment such as gloves, shin pads, and head gear, or weapons used during practice such as staffs, swords, or knifes.

Did you know...

You should always go to class well hydrated..  Since you will generally train straight without any breaks it is imports to drink plenty of water the day of your class.

It is better if you don't eat right before class.  You may feel uncomfortable or get sick from all the the exercises and jumping and twisting motions in class.

The reason for not shoes in Tae Kwon Do is that it allows you to flex your feet easier. Without shoes you can see your feet and be able to learn to control your toes and practice the fine motor control needed of the toes to be successful at this form of martial arts.

It is best if you do not wear any type of jewelry.

Teachers of martial arts are often referred to as masters or senseis.

In many martial arts, skill level is rated by a system of colored belts. White is the beginning level and Black is the expert level, and there are many levels in between.