For this question to be answered we must evaluate various factors such as the kid’s health, the benefits of karate for kids, the disadvantages of karate for kids and most importantly the type of karate dojo.
Kids Health Prior To Finding A Karate Dojo
Not all kids are the same and that’s why we can not have a definite answer for this question. Before deciding to take your child to karate it is best to discuss this with your doctor. Certain conditions the child might have could potentially make karate too dangerous for the kid. Other conditions the kid might have could rarely be dangerous or triggered by a specific time or thing. If this is the case it’s important to warn the sensei of the school before hand. So that in the unfortunate event that something were to happen the sensei could stay calm and follow the instructions that you told him to do, preventing panic and serious injury.
Benefits Of Karate For Kids
Karate undoubtedly has a lot of benefits for kids, some of which are:
- Bullying – This is one of the best benefits karate can give your kid that other sports can’t. Karate is a self-defence art this means that you will be training how to defend yourself. A part of the lesson is called ‘Sparring’ this is when 2 students fight each other, this experience makes your kid comfortable when a bully approaches him/her. Being able to fight gives the kid self-confidence which normally is enough to prevent being bullied. A bully is used to seeing his victim scared seeing a person staying calm could turn him off.
- Self-Confidence – Karate has a very unique way that boosts a kids self confidence we adults might not notice. I remember breaking my first piece of wood when I was about 6 years old sure it was most probably fake and a light bump could break it but that made me feel like I could do anything. The same effect used to happen to me each time I got a new belt it makes you feel that you are becoming better, nothing can stop you.
- Discipline – A good kids karate dojo keeps a great balance of fun and discipline, having a very disciplined activity for kids will not teach them discipline, in fact they will grow to hate it. What karate dojo’s do for kids lessons is adding a lot of fun activities that kids enjoy and want to go back to, at the same time they add certain rules and etiquettes that promote discipline. As the kids start to get older and advance in more belts they will be told ‘stricter’ rules, but at that time the kids will enjoy them. This has to do a lot with child psychology, when a child is enjoying something and you add a new ‘rule’ he/she is more willingly to obey that rule as he will feel as if he is a professional, superior to his younger self that did not know this etiquette. These discipline traits kids learn from karate have a high tendency to stay with them in school and even when they grow up.
- Social Skills – Sure kids go to school which gives them the opportunity to socialize but the difference between school and karate socialization is that. In school you have a set of students all year round, which is not a bad thing but it doesn’t help you to socialise with new people and if you were in a school like mine we barely changed classmates after the year ends it was the same students from kindergarten to grade six. Now on the other hand, when you are training in a karate dojo you have a new group to socialise with. Not only that the group changes more drastically, you have new students joining while older ones dropping out this creates a dynamic environment unlike the static environment experienced at school.
- Exercise – Without a doubt karate is great exercise for kids, nowadays with rising obesity especially in children sending your kids to karate can certainly guide them to a healthier lifestyle.
Disadvantages Of Karate For Kids
Though karate has a lot of benefits for kids, we can not be blinded and not see the negatives that karate can have on kids.
- Injury – Karate is a physical sport, sometimes it is inevitable to avoid injury. A strike from another student lands to hard on your kid, the kid slips while going for a high kick and lands badly, a bad punch on the punching bag could sprain the kid’s wrist or fingers. A lot of things can happen, karate is a martial art which happens to be a collision sport, these types of sports all have the chance to cause injury.
- Pedophilia – I don’t want to cause fear mongering read this whole paragraph before panicking. Before we start on this subject the percentage of this happening to your kid is highly unlikely, and I will tell you how to drop that percentage to zero. Pedophilia can happen anywhere children are present, schools, church, parks, etc the odds are slight but it’s still a possibility. What I’m trying to say is to be aware that this can happen. The way to drop that percentage to zero is to see if the instructor lets the parents inside the dojo to watch there kids. Now don’t get me wrong if the teacher doesn’t let parents inside does not mean he/she is a pedo, but while the kid is still young I would rather find a karate dojo that lets me watch the kid so I know 100% the kid is safe.
- Overconfidence – Such as having low confidence is bad, having to much can be bad as well. While being confident might tell the bully to stop it, overconfidence might cause the kid to start fighting with the bully. This type of behaviour is not what we want from our kid it’s rare that this would happen as karate is all about self defence and avoiding a fight whenever it’s possible.
I believe that the pros of karate overweight the cons of karate, and if we were to choose the proper dojo for our kids we can almost fully get rid of the cons.
Choosing A Karate Dojo For Your Kid
This is a very important part, choosing a bad dojo for your kid will increase the cons we discussed and significantly ruin the benefits of karate. Not to mention that bad dojo’s are usually more expensive.
- Facebook Snooping – Nowadays every dojo has a facebook page or group, Most dojo’s will have a unique name you could easily find them with though if they use a generic name an easy trick to find the page/group in facebook’s search box type your country + karate lessons or karate schools or karate dojo scroll a bit till you find it. When you find the page/group.
- Facebook Groups – A group is better than a page because you can see all the members in that group. Find some kids parents from that group and ask them that you’re interested in joining but want to know more about that dojo before signing up your kid. You could potentially even find people that no longer attend the dojo and see why there kid no longer attends that karate dojo, these will probably give you the best reviews especially if they changed karate dojos not just dropped out.
- Facebook Pages – Not as good as groups because you can not see the full list of people that like that page. Though you can still contact people who are liking the posts that page is posting.
- Karate Kid Lessons – It is best to find a karate dojo that specifically caters for kid lessons. This way the lesson will be more kid friendly a class where there are teen’s, adults and kids at the same time tends to be of low quality, it’s either to strict or too watered down.
- Karate Lesson Prices – It’s important that the dojo you are sending your kid too is not out of your budget. Comparing prices from one karate dojo to the other can give a great idea. There are some dojo’s nicknamed as Mcdojo’s which I had an experience with when I was younger, these are dojo’s that try to milk out as much money from their clients as possible. Some traits these dojos have are way too much belts, I kid you not the first dojo I went to had over 30 belts before you could reach the black belt. I remember to receive the yellow belt which was the second belt in the normal shotokan karate school we had to do 3 exams each earning us a patch on our white belt. The 3 exams leading to yellow belt were practically the same and the sinister thing was we had to pay monthly for lessons. The exam would take place in one of these lessons that we already paid, in order to do the exam you had to pay more and if you did not want to do the exam you would lose that lessons money without a refund. I can go on and on about the shady things this dojo used to do to squeeze as much money out of there clients but I’d be going out of point for this article.
- The Right Instructor & Atmosphere – After finding out the prices, types of lessons and reviews of the dojo it’s time to actually see the dojo and the person in charge. Upon meeting the Instructor notice if he gives you any bad vibes, does he seem shady is he too strict, does he/she look like a person that can handle children properly. We usually can tell a lot about a person from the first impression, if he/she isn’t the type of person you like you are probably right and just end the conversation with il think about it and give you a reply. If the instructor looks like a responsible and fun person it’s time to see how he keeps the dojo.
Hygiene and organisation tells a lot about what standards the dojo has. Are there bugs lying around, does the place look clean, how are the toilets, etc after making sure everything looks okay it’s time to see how a normal lesson goes. Simply ask the sensei if you can come alone for one lesson sit with the parents and see how it goes.
Make sure to arrive a bit early to see how the kids are reacting are they happy to be there, do they respect each other, are they good kids you want your kid to be interacting with, what kind of people are the parents. After the lesson starts what activities are being done, is the sensei treating all the kids equally, is it safe, are the kids having fun, are the kids friendly with each other. If everything seems great you found yourself a great karate dojo for your kid.
I hope this article answered the question ‘Is Karate For Kids ?’ if you have any more questions feel free to ask me in the comments section down below.
All images have been taken from pixabay with a Creative Commons CC0 licence.