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Martial Arts.... which is right for me?

 
Brian Legg
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Within the next 6 months I am planning to sign me and my son up for some type of martial arts.

Some of the key factors that I am concerned about is:
My son is only 2.5 years old right now so it needs to be something that a 3 yr old can handle.
I'd like it to be in a class setting (no one-on-one training) which I can also participate in.
I don't want it to be quick and expensive. I hate these places that crank out black belts in 6 months, give me a break. I'd like to find a place or type of martial arts that is more involved. Something where my son will not only learn self-defense but respect and get some exercise at the same time. Ideally I'd like us to be able to go together for years while working towards goals. I think these places that promote you as fast as possible are just out for the $$.

So, having said all that, what do you guys recommend? What have you tried and what were your experiences? I took Tae Kwon Do at the age of 5 but I was quickly asked to leave... kind of a bad kid... so I don't have much experience with this at all.

ps: no weapons training please (for now)
 
Joe Ess
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My oldest is 4 and just started with a Karate class:

To be honest, there wasn't much thought involved. My wife saw an ad for an open house and took the boy. They liked what they saw and signed him up. He's only been to class once, so I can't really say if it is good or not. The instructor seems to be good with kids for what it's worth.
I don't think the martial art dictates how the art is taught. Your best bet is probably to call around or visit on class nights and see what is available.
 
W. Joe Smith
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I've studied a few martial arts (black belt in Tae Kwon Do, few years in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and dabbled in judo) and i think your best bet at this point is Tae Kwon Do. I'm not saying that because I am a black belt or anything, but more from a standpoint of your son. There are a LOT of places that won't start training kids until they reach a certain age (my club was 5 years and up) and some martial arts places won't train until even later. I've seen clubs that teach BJJ that require the student be at least 14.

The best recommendation I can make is to call some local clubs and talk to the instructors. Find out what the age ranges are, what a typical practice consists of, promotion requirements and other things like that. Even better would be getting a chance to go and observe a couple practices and possibly belt testing. This would be the best way to get a feel for how the club is, what kind of style they take, and how "hard" they actually work. I've seen everything from 13 year old black belts that shouldn't even be allowed to wear a uniform to purple belts (5th-ish of 10 belts to black for that club) that could run circles around me when I was preparing for my black belt test.

Another thought, if you could find one in your area, I would also recommend checking out a Capoeira club. It is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that is half dance, half butt-kicking awesomeness. It would be a lot of work and I don't know how young they would take students but it is also an option.
 
Brian Legg
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Thanks for the suggestions, and cute kid Joe Ess

I think I'll go out this weekend to a couple places near my house and see if I can just walk in and observe
 
Joe Ess
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Brian Legg wrote:Thanks for the suggestions, and cute kid Joe Ess


He gets that from his mom

 
Brian Legg
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I don't know if martial art schools have age restrictions in place due to legal reasons or if it's just a preferance but my son is extremely well behaved for his age and is the size of most 4 year olds. I still plan to wait 6 months because I question how much information he can absorb at this age but other than that I think he could fit in now.
 
George Harris
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I would suggest you try to avoid the Cobra Kai.

Perhaps some creepy old gardener can train your son.
 
W. Joe Smith
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Usually it is a preference. Some argue that kidns below a certain age don't get enough (if anything) out of starting that young. Some kids are fine, others are little monsters. It really depends on the kid.

It can also depend on which martial art is being taught. I wouldn't teach anyone that is under 14 Arnis (stick fighting) no matter how mature or well behaved they are. At the same time, I would be fine with teaching 4-5 year olds Tae Kwon Do because there are portions of TKD that can be taught and understood without needing a higher level of thinking.

One tip I have to give: Don't get kicked in the face. I would say it hurt, but I don't remember it......although the faceplant I did afterward was apparently really cool to watch.
 
Brian Legg
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Been kicked in the face a couple times myself... don't plan to relive that
 
W. Joe Smith
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George Harris wrote:I would suggest you try to avoid the Cobra Kai.

Perhaps some creepy old gardener can train your son.


I'd also suggest avoiding the Foot Clan. If you can find a giant talking karate rat, go with him. Just remember to bring pizza, and don't irritate the one with the red headband.
 
marc weber
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Brian Legg wrote:...I think I'll go out this weekend to a couple places near my house and see if I can just walk in and observe

That's the best approach. See what the atmosphere is like at these schools.

I trained for about 15 years, and I really think it's more about the personality of the instructors than the martial arts style -- especially when you're talking about young students.
 
Marco Reuel Perez
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With all due respect to martial arts, I can't stop laughing when I see this (especially the name of the move)

Cool Move.

I took karate classes when I was 5-6 yrs old. But that was very basic stuff. Then they stopped teaching it. Its pretty amazing to see kids go to the highest levels in martial arts at such young ages. The sort of commitment and discipline they develop in my opinion is highly appreciable. Self discipline apart from self defense is the best part for kids to learn from martial arts. I highly recommend it.

Good luck.
 
John Kimball
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If you can find a good judo club in you area (I never could), you're pretty much set and they're generally free or very inexpensive to boot.

For young-uns, Judo probably is focused on falling practice, rolling around, and generally having fun. As you get older, you start learning throws, chokes, etc. All extremely usable and very practical. Also, as a judoka you have options from controlling somebody to hurting them.

I'll leave you with a bit of news that I remember from a few years back (63 year old judoka vs. asiatic bear; search for "bear"): http://judoinfo.com/announce.htm

PS I'm not a judoka. Just somebody who wishes he could've found a judo club when he was much, much younger.
 
Brian Legg
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Thanks for the suggestions all and Marco, that's hillarious

I went to 3 places this weekend and none were open, go figure. I'll call around and set up some appointments for this week. I'll let you all know what I find out incase any of you are attempting the same type of thing.
 
Amit Ghorpade
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marc weber wrote:
I trained for about 15 years, and I really think it's more about the personality of the instructors than the martial arts style -- especially when you're talking about young students.

Totally agree with marc here. You need more of a good instructor than a "show off" martial arts school.
In my personal opinion 2.5 is too early to start with martial arts, the place I learned took 6+. Kids at these ages will easily do a full split and kick above their heads.
 
Martijn Verburg
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In Thailand they teach Muay Thai from an early age, so if there are any traditional instructors in your area then that's one you could look up. Mind you many people feel that Muay Thai is more focused on the Martial than the Art, but your mileage may vary.
 
Brian Legg
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Well, I took my son with me last night and checked out 2 of the local schools.

The first was Kicking Dragons Tae Kwon Do. It looked nice, but the youngest kids they accept are 5.

Next we went over to San-Mai which teaches Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, and Escrima. Luckly they have a begginers class called "Little Dragons" for kids 3-6 which is mostly just jumping over sticks, punching hoops, and learning balance/coordination. It looked really nice, the owner showed us around, and it's won the "best martial arts school" award for my area the last 3 years in a row!

I plan to check out 1 more place just to be thourogh (sp) but we're most likely going to sign up at San-Mai, both for Tae Kwon Do. The class times are pretty convienent for both of us too (not in the same class obviously). Looks like we'll just have to wait another 6 months first.

Thanks for the advice all. I will also look into the Muay Tai Martijn, thanks.
 
Frank Silbermann
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For age 3, I would probably not consider ken do.
 
W. Joe Smith
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On a related note, I found a jiu jitsu club near me (finally). Went last night, and my legs and hips hurt so bad today the thought of walking to get a cup of coffee makes me want to cry.

Good times. Good times.
 
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