Kickin’ it Up a Notch: How to Maximize the Value of the Martial Arts Advantage for your Child

Martial Arts may be synonymous with words like kicking and punching, but it’s also so much more. Good schools also teach discipline, focus, self-confidence and respect.  As a result, more and more parents are enrolling their children into local karate, jiu jitsu, and taekwondo programs hoping it will help give them the education and edge they need for the new school year.  But, whether it is aikido, wing chun, MMA or any of the other art forms that seem to be cropping up across the country, how do you know if the program you picked is working for you?  Let’s look at some helpful hints and fundamental factors needed for you to choose the right school!
Visit the school in person
If you are looking for a local martial arts school, you won’t have to go far.  Dozens of dojos are popping up almost daily so it will take but a moment while you are in the area running and errand to stop in. A quick visit can tell you almost everything you need to know:
Are they opened? Many schools do not even open their doors until after 3 pm.  Ask why.  Most often it is because the owner/Instructor of the school has another job.  This can mean two things; this was simply a part time opportunity for a black belt in martial arts to make a few extra bucks and your child will receive part time attention.  Think about it; if you had two jobs, could you put 100% into both of them?  Or does one get more ‘attention’ than the other?  If the other is at the end of the day; how tired are you going to be?
“Part time schools = part time attention”
Is it clean?  Cleanliness is more important than you realize.  When school begins, so does the germ fest. Let’s face it, there is going to be a lot of bacteria here from a lot of kids sweating and sneezing and laying or sitting on the ground, barefoot.  A Rocky like warehouse is not the healthiest place for your child.  And it shows that the Instructors there do not put the time and effort into keeping it clean.  Big red flag!
What to Ask
A lot of parents ask the same question; what is your schedule and how much?  But asking more details about the Instructor and the program will let you know if you truly get what you pay for.  If you want to simply drop off your kids for a fun activity, then it does not matter.  If you want your child to receive all the benefits martial arts has to offer, then here are a few!
“Cheap = Cheap. You do get what you pay for”
Where did the Martial Arts Instructor receive his/her training? What studio/system did they receive their black belt from?  How long did it take for them to earn it?  Do they still receive training on a regular basis from a reputable and higher ranking Instructor? Many times, individuals get their black belts, open a school and no longer train with anyone else.  If they are responsible to educate your children with all the latest and greatest martial arts has to offer. Who is educating them?
Where did they learn to teach children?  This may be one of THE most important questions you ask.  Just because you learned math in school, does that qualify you to get a job at the local elementary school?  It is easier to train to earn a black belt than it is to teach another to earn it. Would you send your child to your neighbor who got straight A’s in history in High school to learn it? NO! Yet, if you send your child to a Karate Instructor who just decided to open a school because he/she got their black belt, then you are.
“Just because someone knows a lot about a subject does not make them qualified to teach it”
What kind of Character Development Program does the school have? Once again, if you just want a fun activity, this is not important. But, if you have read this far, it must be so make sure you know what is being taught.  Just because it’s “Martial Arts” does not mean that your child will attend class and magically become a disciplined, focused individual. Some things have to be taught.  And, more importantly, translated from the dojo to the rest of the world.  Young