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Bowley Kenpo Karate » School Information » Doing karate with kids

Doing karate with kids

If you’ve never been in a family style martial arts class, it’s an experience to be tried and appreciated. Family style means kids and adults work in class together. Classes such as these allow parents and children to share their martial arts journey together even if their particular curriculum is different. This is how we run classes at our school, and it’s special for a variety of reasons.

In martial arts, kids and adults work well in the same class.

In martial arts, kids and adults work well in the same class.

Change of Pace – In an adult class we often tend to focus on a single point or technique for the majority of class. With kids though, their attention doesn’t like to hold that long. So we change the pace quite a bit moving from topic or drill to new exercise. Everyone usually enjoys the faster pace because of the varieties of information and time seems to pass quickly. While many topics need to be repeated frequently to ensure understanding, the upside is worth it.

The Questions Kids Ask –Imagine your perspective of the world as a kid (for some of us, that’s a long time ago). Now imagine learning the basics of the principles of motion or techniques for the first time. The view is completely different minus 15 years (or more) and 2 feet. That’s what it’s like teaching kids. The questions they ask and the connections they make are refreshing and sometimes hilarious. The levity makes learning inherently more fun.

Non Lethal Strikes – Often Kenpo teaches to strike with crippling or lethal power to targets. Teaching self-defense to kids doesn’t necessarily mean teaching them to strike the same targets or with the same power as adults. In most cases, kids haven’t developed the thought process to see the ramifications of striking targets with crippling force. Rightly so. So we teach them alternative targets to correctly match their version for Whatever the Attitude, so the Response. Adults in family class appreciate the difference in teaching styles as it teaches responsibility in a way kids can understand and use.

Has to be Fun – In addition to the change of pace, we also add a lot of encouragement and fun. Let’s face it, Kenpo asks kids to move in a way most of their bodies aren’t developed enough yet to easily accomplish. It can be frustrating. So we positively reinforce when a maneuver goes right even if it’s just a baby step better. And we play games. The last 10 to 15 minutes of class is devoted to playing a game drawing upon a Kenpo concept. Favorites include Sword and Shield, Kenpo dodgeball, and the obstacle course. We make sure the last memory each child has of karate class is a fun one. The adults usually play in the games and always smile just as big as the kids.

When they get It – Every parent or teacher knows the look on a child’s face when all the pieces fall into place, and they understand what you’re explaining. They light up. It’s no different in martial arts. As my instructor says, “It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up!” In a class of kids and adults, they can feed off of each other and the excitement spreads like dominoes falling.

Many teachers see kids as the future of their or any martial art. But for many, it’s just a fun activity which can be shared with parents and kids. Those adults participating with their kids get all the benefits of martial arts (exercise, confidence, self-defense) but also get to grow side-by-side with the child in a special journey making memories along the way.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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