When the original Karate Kid movie came out in the 1980s, martial arts became a wildly popular activity for kids, teens, and adults alike. It’s no wonder. This unique art form helps teach valuable life skills such as discipline, respect, and perseverance, not to mention physical fitness and self-defense.
Though martial arts has plenty to offer, it can feel a bit overwhelming trying to choose the right Dojo for your child. You want their first experience with martial arts to be positive, so it makes sense to do your homework before making your decision. Here are a few key elements to look for when it comes to selecting the right Dojo for your child.
1. Look for a Dojo that offers Child-friendly Classes
Though it should go without saying, it’s important to pick a Dojo with classes that are specifically geared toward children. Child-friendly martial arts instructors usually have experience teaching kids of various ages. They understand the physical, emotional, and mental limitations which each age group faces. These child-savvy instructors will set reasonable, achievable goals for their students. They’ll know how to offer students encouragement and understanding without allowing the class to become an undisciplined free-for-all.
If you want to find out which Dojos in your area are kid-friendly, go on local online martial arts forums. Read reviews posted on various Dojo’s websites. Talk to parents who currently have their children enrolled in martial arts classes. The reputations of Senseis that work well with kids often precedes them.
2. Look for a Dojo Whose Sensei has Recognizable Credentials
Not all martial arts instructors are comparable when it comes to their knowledge or skill. If you yourself aren’t trained in martial arts, you may not be able to tell the difference between a genuine master and a self-promoted phony. That’s why it’s a good idea to find a school whose Senseis have recognizable credentials earned in reputable martial arts organizations.
Martial arts often take many years to truly master. To earn a high ranking black belt in even one martial art is impressive. If a Sensei claims to be a high ranking black belt in multiple martial arts, that may be a red flag. Find out where the Sensei received their training. Talk to the leadership of local martial arts organizations to discover more about the Sensei’s expertise and reputation before signing your child up for a class.
3. Look for a Dojo that Offers Consistent Results for Measurable Progress
There are many dedicated martial arts instructors who are passionate about teaching their students the necessary skills to advance. Sadly, there are also some who are more interested in making money than providing genuine instruction. The latter group is more likely to offer multiple belt promotions to students who haven’t truly mastered their skills – just as long as the parents will keep paying expensive belt test fees.
Before signing your child up for classes at a certain Dojo, ask about belt test requirements. See if you are allowed to watch a belt test. If the Sensei can describe a concrete skill set that students must master to achieve advancement, and you’re able to observe them sticking to that skill set when testing students, chances are you’ve found a reputable school.
Not all martial arts schools are equal in the quality of instruction which they provide their students. Thankfully, there are plenty of great schools out there to choose from. Take your time to investigate before deciding which Dojo is right for your child.