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Karate for Kids
Karate Kid – The Movie
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Karate Kids Performing
Karate Kids Performing
Karate Kids Performing
WHAT IS KARATE?
Karate is a form of martial arts that comes from Okinawa, Japan. Karate is probably the most widely practiced form of martial arts in the world. In Japanese the word Karate means open or empty hand; kara means open or empty and te means hand. Karate is about physical condition and mental focus, building strong bodies and clear minds. Karate can be used for fitness, self-defense as well as character development. In Karate technique is important; when it comes to kicks, punches, throws, blocks and deflections it is all about follow through and whole body involvement and using your body as a weapon (although weapons are used) instead of guns and knives. Karate encompasses the physical, spiritual and mental development rather than simply competition and concentrates on defensive moves.
My kids have been taking Karate for a few years now. It all started before Kindergarten when my boy had just turned 4 years old. He was a bit rambunctious but not unlike other little boys. He had so much energy I thought I needed to get him into something to expend that energy. I had found a ballet class that my girls wanted to do at a local community center but my boy did not know what he wanted. We looked through the community center catalogue and nothing jumped out at him until he saw the Karate class. My mother had actually mentioned it to me before but I thought that he was too young for it and was not sure that I wanted him to learn those types of skills and have him use them against his sisters. I had visions of horrible consequences of him being in Karate and the skills he would bring home. But against my better judgment I enrolled him in the month long class. I was pleasantly surprised. My son took to it immediately especially the gi (Karate uniform); because he was so young he was considered a “little dragon”.
After signing him up for a second session the instructor at the community center suggested that my son actually come over to the dojo (Karate school) because he had gotten the hang of it rather quickly. The dojo was an interesting transition, instead of just going once a week it was twice a week but my boy was completely into it and looked forward to going each and every Karate day. After awhile my girls’ dance class changed times and they could no longer go because it was too late and then my husband was coaching basketball so I had to take the girls with me to the Karate class. At first they played quietly on the side not paying any attention to their brother but after a few months they had the moves down and were doing them right along with the class as they watched. The Sensei (Karate instructor) started noticing them and called me in. He suggested since they could do all the moves that they join too. I didn’t think that my girls were interested but when I asked they were so excited about it that they jumped right in.
I actually put my kids into Karate blind to what they could learn and what would happen to them. I am truly amazed as to what Karate has done for my children and I did not realize that there are so many benefits to Karate.
For my children: Karate has benefitted my children in several ways that are different for each child. For my son he has mellowed out and the signs of discipline are showing he is still a little rambunctious boy but he understands more the importance of being respectful and other key words he has learned in Karate. For my oldest daughter the drama queen, she is still dramatic but she too has toned it down a bit and has actually taken strongly to Karate she truly loves going and learning new forms. For my baby girl I have seen the biggest benefit. She was born with very tense muscle tone and so her motor skills were a little off making it difficult to do certain things. Karate for her has helped her to strengthen her motor skills both fine and gross. The Karate exercises and forms has helped with her muscle memory and now her balance and other skills are more refined this is something that might not have been possible in other sports but has given her the capability of being able to perform better at other sports.
For me, the parent: Karate has even given me tools to work with. The children have a goal to become a black belt. So when they do something wrong I can ask them if what they did was “black belt behavior”. I can also control a noisy room quickly using a saying that is said in Karate “Eyes on who?” and immediately my children stop what they are doing and look at me. There are other little tidbits that I have learned from Karate that has helped me with my children, not to mention going over their various forms with them means that I have to learn a little bit of Karate myself.
For others: Karate can be an alternative to team sports, some student do not enjoy or prosper in team sports. Martial arts are a great way to learn the physical skills of athletics with the added bonus of mental skills that are necessary in daily life. Karate is also a great confidence builder because it gives kids the tools necessary to feel more confident, overcome shyness and even help with providing children with better manners by teaching respect and other skills. Karate is also a great way for kids to work out their aggressions in class while discouraging aggressive behavior outside of the class. There are truly many benefits to Karate and martial arts.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Before putting your child in any type of marital arts class it is important to do some research.
Type of martial art: There are many different types of martial arts, its important to understand the types and which one is best suited for your child. Think about what you want your child to get from the experience and whether or not that particular martial art will provide that for your child.
Type of school: Each school is different, they each have their own style of instruction and not every school fits with every child. For me the school that I have my children enrolled in is a perfect fit. The instructor works well with children and has a great reputation in addition the school offers monthly powerful words homework that teaches children things like respect and other key concepts. The dojo works in conjunction with the parents as well as with the teachers at their school. All of these factors are important to me; just as important as learning the Karate forms.
Price/Cost of School: The price is crucial because you do not want to invest a lot of money into something that your child is not going to like. Try a community center or see if you can try a couple of classes before you commit to anything long term. Make sure that this truly the path you and your child would like to take.
Credentials of School: As with anything check the credentials of the school and the instructor so that you are sure you are getting the best that you can for your child.
Effectiveness of School: Look at the effectiveness of the school is its creed something that you can agree with? Does the school have success stories? Take a visit and look around some schools offer buddy days where you can bring a friend. Get a feel for the school. Again with the Karate school my kids go to there is a sense of family there everyone knows everyone else and they truly care it is a great community of people.
Skill Level of your child: Make sure that your child is old enough and has the skills enough to start out. Children progress at different ages, so what is good for some 4 year olds is not good for others. Understand what your child can do and their limits and go from there, again it would be good to give it a try maybe with trial sessions or through a community center.
Ask around: Ask friends, neighbors, family members and others to see what is going on in the community. You might find that there are children that your child already knows who are taking martial arts. So ask around and find out.
Taking these few steps can help you decide if this is the direction you want to go in and can help you from wasting time and money.
Currently my children are still in Karate with the understanding that if they want to stop taking it they can. Sometimes it makes our schedule hectic especially since they like to do other sports such as soccer, swimming and baseball but as long as my kids are happy with going to Karate and what Karate offers them then I am more than happy to take them.