Which is the Best Martial Art for a 10-year-old Girl?
A Mountain Experience
Many Korean martial arts trace their origins to exercise in the mountainous regions of the country. Even walking up and down the mountains is good.
Do You Want Exercise, Focus, or to get out of a Wheelchair?
How About Girls?
Thanks for asking about martial arts study among 10-year-old girls, SunSeven.I can't address all the points here, but will highlight some important apects.
After studying and teaching martial arts for over 25 years, I cannot point to any single martial art and say with certainty that it is better than any other for a 10-year-old girl, or for anyone. At this point, as the US Representative to the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa Zone -3, I have a hand in advising many martial arts, including Japanese Styles, Korean Styles, boxing, and even women's wrestling. Fourth Dan (degree) Black Belt Master Alberta Kekuna is one of my advisees and is not only the head of the women's wrestling team endeavors in Cameroon, but also of the group of women studying our expanding Jidokwan Taekwondo.
I currently have held 9th dan black belt grandmaster ranks in Jidokwan Taekwondo, Hapkido, Yudo, Jujutsu, and Unarmed Combat Defense since 2000-2001. All of this took concentrated effort and hard work, with practices inside and outdoors in all weather and geographic conditions. Further, it requried a lot of writing, music, and fine arts, as well as volutneer service beyond the martial arts school lessons 2-4 times per week 1-3 hours at a shot (20 hrs/week). It was also expensive. I use martial arts to help people rise from wheelchairs permanently and avoid surgeries, and to ease students' conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, migraines, chronic pain and many others. The additional benefits are too many to mention here.
My own training began for health reasons as a result of an injured back and a few other physical concerns from overwork (all cured withtin 9 months of first training). I enrolled in a traditional class of JIdokwan Taekwondo and was trained from that foundation with additions of Yudo (Korean Judo), Hapkido, Jujutsu, and Combat Self Defense. My weaponry has included the Korean straight sword, long staff, double middle staffs, short staffs, nunchuku, Korean dart, Asian fan, knives, sharpened throwing stars, traditional scart techniques, kama (similar to hatchets and machetes), whips, practical everyday objects, and others. It is important to find out the curriculum of a class and school before joining. Most schools do not have such an experience instructor as I was fortunate enough to find.
How involved does a child what to become in martial arts? For instance, my 3rd Dan Black Belt examination was performed outdoors in the winter in a state park - 3 days in January and 3 days in February that year, around 30 degrees F. We spent 2-3 hours a ta time outside, 6AM, 10AM, Noon, 3PM. Snow, ice, slush, mud. At one point, for a few hours, I was up to mid-calf in a freezing stream performing technqiues and defense drills, and then was required to fight my way up a steep hill covered with ice and some mud, using minimal hand hand holds. The hard training developed my stamina and I did not become ill.
My 7th Dan Black Belt test was done similarly in the heat of New Orleans - over 100 degrees F. Thus, some styles of martial arts help you to acclimatize to all weather conditions. Others do not. What does the family and child prefer?
Some classes never practice outside at all. One class in California has no building -- all of their classes are outdoors.
There are many things to consider and much variety. A family may need to try several schools in order to find one that is good for their child. It depends upon the quality of the instructor and the curriculum. If a school has a very long-term contract, then perhaps they should be avoided.
An acquaintance signed his son to a contract year of classes at $2400.00 (10 years ago - think of the price jump now!) and the child attended three times and quit (no refunds). Classes at the local recreation center usually are much less expensive.
My class training began with a weekly class of three hours in length with a two-minute break. Many classes today are only 45 minutes or even 30 minutes long. In my opinion, mine were too long and the modern classes are too short. Currently, I teach hour long classes offered 4 times per week. 2-3 hours a week is a good length of time to practice.
Does the child need exercise or self defense? Some classes teach self defense that works and others teach exercise drills with martial arts foundations, but less practical knowledge. It is important to find out which is which.
Martial Arts Weaponry
Eclectic Martial Arts
Eclectic Martial Arts that combine elements of many styles is big in business in America today. It depends on the quality of the instructor as to how much the child will learn in these, and any martial arts classes. Some classes are very good and some are run by people that have never had a lesson in their lives - they went to the martial arts supply store or online and bought a uniform and a belt. Martial Arts is not regulated in America. However, it is supported by the government in West Africa and is growing by leaps and bounds, so to speak.
I can say with certainty, however, that traditional Muy Thai in which broken and ground-up glass is stuck onto one's arm wrappings for sparring is not the martial art to choose for a 10-year-old-girl, and not for many adults.
Hundreds Of Styles, Thousands Of Federations
There are hundreds of martial arts around the world and in some countries, each family line has its own style that is passed from generation to generation. Many of these styles come under the umbrella of any of thousands of martial arts federation/organization or a government ministry. Not all of them do so.
In truth, each country has had its own initiation into the martial arts with primitive hand-to-hand combat when the human race was young and developing onward from there. Often, there has been the influence of one culture upon another in martial arts, just as there has been in language and culture.
We have found that on the innermost walls of certain of the Egyptian pyramids, are painted drill patterns for martial arts styles as done by the Pharaoh's military people over 5,000 - 6,000 years ago.
A millennia-old, truly ancient, martial art practiced in the Siberian regions specializes in neck breaking (Sambo) (That would not do for a 10-year-old, I think.) This is the same region in which, in the 1990s, a soviet psychiatrist began to study the shamanistic background in her culture and discovered certain medical procedures and customs in Siberia that she could not explain. Siberia is certainly a different world.
This brings me to another point - influence from and upon religions related to martial arts. Some martial arts incorporate philosophies and a more religious sort of belief(s) into their practice and others do not. It would be important to the 10-year-old's family and to herself that this be examined before joining any such school in order to ensure that the teachings overall do not contradict the family's and child's upbringing beliefs and values in a negative way.
The stance on tournament participation should also be examined. Some schools (dojo, dojang, kwoon or other) encourage tournament partcipation - some require it and it can be very expensive - others do not participate in this at all. What is the preference of the family and the child? That is important.
Why Taejoon Lee Boycotted Karate Kid Remake
Why Taejoon Lee Boycotted Karate Kid Remake
- The Karate Kid Re-make Banking on Americas Ignorance |
The new re-make of 'The Karate Kid' is an insult to Asian culture, profits by perpetuating ignorance and disrespecting our sacred cultural identities.
Considerations For Your Child In Martial Practice
There are many things to consider when choosing a martial arts class for a child, but if an instructor is well trained and a person of integrity, then it matters less what style he is teaching because he/she has so much useful to share.
In some parts of Korea in the mid-to-late 20th century, one needed to be 35 years old, have practiced for at least 15 years, and have attained the rank of 4th Dan Black Belt (there are 10 levels in my tradition) to teach independently. Those rules in Korea have gone away and America has no such rulings at all, so families need to research the instructor and the school in which they are interested. Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints and ask the school for references. Don't be impressed by a window that is full of trophies - you can buy them online for less than $5.00 each.
In my tradition, one must attain the rank of 4th Dan Black Belt and be certified in CPR and First Aid in order to teach independently or run a martial arts school. Our instructors also have college degrees that range from Associates Degrees to the PhD. Our 4th and 5th Dan rank of Black Belt themselves are equivalent to a Masters Degree and above. Above that is equivalent to the PhD.
There are dozens and dozens of martial arts federations around,sme good, some bad, some existing only on paper, so membership of the instructor in some of them is not a gaurantee of success for one's child in the martial arts as well. Parents must spend some substantial time in checking out the possibilities.
I will say this for our training - we have been able to help some people leave their wheelchairs permanently. We saved one young man from spedning tens of thousands of dollars in leg surgery and he went on to play football, graduate from college and have a healthy life. These are just two of many similar cases. Any well trained martial artist with integrity from a respected style of martial arts can achieve good things.
The Little Gym Is A Great Place to Start
The Little Gym - ages 4 thu 12
One corporation that specializes in providing trained professionals in the field of early childhood development and movement arts/therapy/training is a well respected firm known as The Little Gym, a child developmental gymnasium that has locations around the world.
In many of their locations, specialized martial arts classes are taught for children anywhere from 4 years old to age 12. The instructors are certified in movement areas such as phsyisiology and they can be trusted with children in all ways to teach them and prevent them from becoming injured or traumatized. See their website for futher details: The Little Gym
More Martial Arts For Girls
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They Can Do It - What About Me?
- 9th Dan Black Belt in Jidokwan Taekwondo, Yudo, Jujutsu, Hapkido, and Unarmed Martial Combat;
- Patron of the Diaspora Global Actions for Sports and Culture (DGASC) in Africa and
- USA Representative to the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa Zone-3. All Rights Reserved.
© 2007 Patty Inglish