Should Your Child Study Karate ?

Karate is the kid sport of today. Attendance in schools across the country has doubled in the past five years driven primarily by the enrollment of 5-10 year olds. This sudden interest has, no doubt been fueled by the many television series and movies featuring martial artists such as Chuck Norris, Claude van Damme and the Power Rangers. While kids become enamored with learning martial arts as a result of these action heroes, what they can't appreciate is how the study of the martial arts can be a life shaping experience.

Self Defense

Certainly, learning a martial for the purpose of self defense is reason enough to enroll in a school. We all know of friends and relations who have found themselves confronted with situations they were ill prepared to handle. The skill and knowledge of a martial artist provides a capability that is truly unique. A child or adult studying a martial art is going to be better prepared to handle a difficult confrontation.

Maturity, Confidence and Self Esteem

The study of a martial art like Hapkido, however, is not just about learning self defense. While this is certainly an objective, young martial artists quickly learn the importance of self control, discipline, and respect. Young students develop maturity, sense of self confidence and self esteem well in advance of their years. Psychologists observing this behavior, attribute this directly to the students enhanced confidence in their ability to deal with life's situations.

Self Control

One of the first things a new student learns in the martial arts is the importance of the rules and traditions that must be followed. Many of the techniques being learned can be harmful to others and self control is extremely important. As students practice with each other they develop control and respect for their new found capabilities. As a result many martial artists learn to avoid physical confrontations despite provocation by others. This ability to walk away from situations with the confidence of knowing that they could have won is quite powerful.

Respect for Others

In addition to learning self-control, respect for others is another important lesson. The tradition of a martial arts school requiring bowing to the Master, fellow students and the Korean and American flag teaches an appreciation of respect. At Master Kwon's school, students are frequently reminded of the importance of respecting parents, teachers, brothers, sisters and others.

Karate as a Life Shaping Experience

While young martial artists may believe that they are learning to kick and punch like their favorite TV hero, there is actually something much more life shaping occurring. As a parent you should be comfortable knowing that your support of your children in the marital arts will serve to contribute to their development in a number of important ways.

How do you Know if your Child is Ready to Study Hapkido ?

For some parents this is an easy question to answer particularly when their child asks them constantly about karate. Kids are very good at pointing out what their friends are allowed to do. For other children the decision needs to be more carefully considered. Children who are indifferent may in fact be shy or afraid. These kids can can grow tremendously in Hapkido, but they need to be introduced to it gently.

Master Kwon has found that with these students observing one or two classes allows them to become much more comfortable and interested in the study of Hapkido. One or two private lessons can also be arranged to prepare less confident kids for class.   In general, Master Kwon prefers to start training children when they are four and a half to five years or older.