Parents, if your little ones’ favorite pastime is doing karate kicks around the house, consider putting them in a martial arts program so they can channel their inner karate kid in a safe, structured environment. And with fall right around the corner, it’s a great indoor activity to keep the kiddos active while learning life skills that will carry them far into adulthood.
To help you pick which martial arts program is best for your child, we spoke with four instructors spanning four disciplines to get the scoop on their program and how it benefits kids.
Instructor: Kate Savoca, Director of Children’s Program & Assistant Instructor at Brooklyn Aikikai (Brooklyn, NY)
What to expect: Brooklyn Aikikai is a place where serious practice is supported by a warm community environment. Our teachers are committed to bringing out the best in each child. To that end, we hold high expectations from the moment a child steps through the door. Students line up their shoes neatly, greet the instructors and are greeted warmly in return, bow as they enter the mat area, and participate in an active class. Our instructors and senior students carefully demonstrate each move and every student’s individual needs are considered.
Benefits: In addition to strengthening core muscles and encouraging good posture, our classes emphasize focus, mutual respect, and self-control.
What kids learn: Children learn the importance of taking care of their partners and of being part of a community. We practice mindful breathing at the end of each class and encourage children to use it in their everyday lives as a way toward thoughtful action rather than carelessness. Children also develop coordination, strength, self-confidence, and consideration for others.
Instructor: Ada Vargas, Program Director at Amerikick Karate Studio (Brooklyn, NY)
Program description: Amerikick programs can best be described as “lessons for life.” Our martial arts program helps improve confidence, focus, fitness, grades, and character. We constantly work on self-discipline and self-defense. We do not allow bullying and reach out to schools and community with seminars. Parents love our philosophy, approach, and Sensei’s weekly wisdom emails.
What kids learn: Children learn the art of self-defense, acrobatics, and hyper tricks. However, they also learn that karate is not just punching and kicking; we teach character development.
How to improve: To improve their karate skills, children should stretch and practice every day. Kids receive weekly videos on what to focus and work on.
Spotlight: Martial Arts
Instructor: Chad Simon, Martial Arts Coordinator at Asphalt Green (New York, NY)
Program description: Asphalt Green provides a global martial arts experience, meaning our program allows kids to experience an array of techniques, challenges, and philosophies from several martial arts disciplines. Imagine a lite version of MMA without the traumatic activities we see at UFC events.
What children learn: We want kids to become confident and achieve success while training at our facilities. We use martial arts as a tool for our character development program called “The 12 Pillars of a Champion.” In each class, the kids learn competitive martial arts techniques in addition to self-control, perseverance, and teamwork.
How to improve: One word: work! We teach children that there is no straight path to success: They will experience challenges and tests toward their black belt. However, in order to overcome those obstacles, they will have to do the work. We urge kids to come in and train as often as they can (at least two times a week); the athletes who train more tend to be our best performers.
Instructor: Paul Lim, Taekwondo Master at West Side Taekwondo (New York, NY)
What to expect: Our kids’ taekwondo program emphasizes fitness, self-confidence, and self-control. Our classes are very cardio intensive with an emphasis on core workout. The classes are structured and kids have to learn the basics and their current belt level curriculum before they can move onto the next belt.
What children learn: Kids learn to focus and how to follow directions. Kids have to memorize their patterns and practice it so they become good at it. They also get a sense of self-worth when they learn the moves and become physically stronger.
How to improve: Kids need to work on listening to their instructor, be able to follow directions, and understand that they have to put in their best effort.
For a selective guide to martial arts in NYC, click here.