I thought it would be a good idea this morning to reflect on my own martial arts journey and discuss why for years we have always ran family classes.
It seems to be a common trend post-lockdown, as instructors are coping with the increased demand for classes, to offer 45 minute sessions instead of a traditional 1 hour class.
At Sandwell Tae Kwon Do we are sticking to our hard working ethos and belief that a child age 5 plus can concentrate for a full hour and train to a good standard. It never did me any harm!
We get alot of enquiries these days for children age 3-4 (my own daughter is 3 and has just joined our classes) After much deliberation, as I think 3 is a little bit early to start for many children, but if the child really wants to do something then I would encourage them to achieve their full potential.
With children this age we allow them to train for half of the class though, as pre-schoolers often do not have the same attention span as 5 year olds.
That being said I have taught a couple of 3 year olds who have joined with mom or dad over the years and these children continue to amaze me!
The first 3 year old I have taught is now only 3 belts away from black belt and has trained continuously for 5 years now! What a fabulous achievement.
So why should your child start training in tae kwon do?
Well, tae kwon do has so many benefits to your child that if I tried to write them all down I think you would be reading a book rather than a blog post.
The number 1 reason for anyone to train with us is that they will develop in their confidence.
We teach life skills, so the fundamental principles of respect and discipline are instilled within our children.
Fitness and self defence training are so important for children and we ensure that our 5-12 year olds are also taught anti-bullying tactics and how to cope if a friend is being bullied or they experience bullying.
Our children also have the opportunity to compete regionally and nationally in events hosted by the international tae kwon do council.
This is great for them as they get to meet people from up and down the UK and make friends.
I started training just before I started secondary school. My dad had trained in lau gar kung fu so at a young age I started doing some pad work and watched him exercising at home and working the punchbags.
After doing his research dad decided to take me along to our local tae kwon do club run by Vince Farquharson who spent years coping with me! I was always asking questions, I wanted to learn everything I could and I found every time I was taught something new there was always something else to learn.
I joined with a friend (always a good tip!) and I remember instantly feeling great about training. We would go two times a week and we made a lot of friends at class. It really helped keep me focused when I had exams.
Looking back, the club was a good mix of adult black belts, coloured belts and white belts.
We trained hard but we always had fun and we were a big family.
This is why now at Sandwell Tae Kwon Do we have the family ethos because it is what I grew up with and what I believe makes the difference between a high quality martial arts school and a commercial gym setting.
I didn't appreciate at the time all of the skills I was learning but looking back I can honestly say I am so glad my dad conviced me to try tae kwon do (I was naturally a bit hesitant at first as most children are).
I still have lifelong friends who I know I could call at 3am and they would turn up at my door! All through training at my local club.
The main benefit of starting tae kwon do as a child is that you can then progress through to black belt and as a teenager if you then continue training their are so many opportunities to progress into a martial arts career.
You can take a coaching course, become an umpire, then a referee.
Perhaps you might want to go on to teach and you could take an assistant instructor qualification then qualify as an instructor yourself!
Tae kwon do has always had a nich'e compared with other martial arts in that we encourage families to train together.
Why? Because mom and dad you are your child's hero so if you have a go your son or daughter is training at the same time as you and they can learn with you.
It is a great way to bond with your children and while you are learning they are learning too.
We split off into smaller groups to ensure everyone has a chance to work closely on grade syllabus work.
Children in a children's only class is a bit like school. We are not a school!
We are a martial arts family.
Now, I am training for my fourth dan black belt grading and I am still learning. I train with my dads kung fu instructor Ken Hoult locally and as an adult my reasons for training have changed.
I want to get fitter and stronger after having two children, I want to enhance my sparring techniques,
and as an instructor learn different styles of training to be able to pass on my knowledge to the next generation.
Tae kwon do is for everyone and as Ken says 'It is not what you learn, it is how you learn it.'
Claire Southall (3rd dan TKD) Mom Blogger.