Facts about Martial Arts for Kids
by Paul M. Jerard Jr.

How do I find the right martial arts teacher for my kids?
You will know when you have a face-to-face meeting and observe him or her teach a martial arts class. The chemistry between a prospective martial arts teacher and you should be good. After all, your child is supposed to learn courtesy, respect, self-discipline, goal setting, and many more life skills from his or her martial arts instructor. If the martial arts teacher you are considering displays none of the above-mentioned qualities, please continue to shop around.

It makes no difference if your child is learning Karate, Jujitsu, Aikido, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, or Kung Fu, when the teacher is not a good role model. You don't need to expose your children to hazards or questionable characters in order for them to learn martial arts. The martial arts school philosophy, and the instructors, should meet your standard - never settle for less. Are you looking for discipline, academic improvement, life skills, tournament competition, self-defense, or a positive activity? Martial arts studios are not created equally. A life skills school may not meet the needs of a competitive parent or child. A "tournament school" that teaches Sport Karate, Sport Jujitsu, or enters many competitions, may be lacking in life skills and so forth.

This is not meant to take away the value of any aspect in martial arts training, but to make you, as a parent, aware that the emphasis will be different from one type of school to another. Also, the self-defense aspect will be taught differently within each martial arts school. Some martial arts schools teach more of one technique such as: punching, kicking, joint locks, sweeps, and throws.

At our wellness center in North Providence, Rhode Island, we teach all of those aspects, and we also teach self-defense through communication. For example: Wouldn't it be better to prevent a physical conflict by talking it out? If a child is fully capable of defending himself or herself, why should he or she pursue a physical fight?

As adults, we know that the diplomatic approach to a physical conflict will not always work, but it is worth a try. Our children need to look at social skills, awareness, and courtesy as survival tools. Whether they are walking down a street, or entering the workplace, these skills are extremely important.

Know your goals and your child's needs. Please make sure your reasons for enrolling your son or daughter in martial arts classes are sound. Martial arts for your child, is his or her personal endeavor. You can share in the feeling of accomplishment by being supportive and watch them grow to be successful. Success is one of the most important gifts we can give to our children.

The ideal martial arts instructor should have knowledge of sports medicine and CPR training. This may be one of the reasons why serious injuries are rare. Make sure that the safety of each child is a priority with the martial arts school you choose.

Some parents may feel I play it too safe within a karate class, but they have not seen a child knocked unconscious, a broken nose, or loss of blood, in my school. When I was a Sport Karate coach, referee, and judge, I saw all of those things in tournaments, and children were all wearing protective equipment.

Therefore, safety precautions are a very important factor, when deciding which martial arts school you should choose for your child.