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Old 02-26-2013, 11:17 AM
 
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Has anyone had experience at the Martial Arts World location in Ashburn? We're interested in signing up my 3 yr old son for classes there but would like some honest feedback before we go that route.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:28 AM
 
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I don't know anything about this particular school but 3 yr old is too young for any kind of martial arts training. Any martial art school that accepts such age group would be just a belt factory (lots of them offer after-school care program which is the selling point).

Don't know why you want your son to learn martial arts at such young age (for discipline??) - would a little gym/kid gym be more appropriate for this age?
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:59 AM
 
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I agree completely - 3 is way too young. They are just taking your money. A decent dojo won't even do 5 years old, unless that child can be attentive for at least one hour. They will let them attend for a session and evaluate, ours turns kids away all the time, tells them to come back in a year or two. There are lots of daycare dojo's out there, but beware the quality of true martial arts training. Belt factorys will bleed you dry, testing fees, sparring gear fees, oh look he has outgrown his uniform $$$!

I'm a firm believer in martial arts for kids - my daughter started at 6 and now actually trains 7 days a week - (her obsession, not mine) but she did it for almost 2.5 years before she really got it.
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:59 PM
 
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Let's not make absolute statements like "3 is way too young." It depends entirely on the specific parents and children.

I've practiced martial arts practically my whole life. I started to teach the basic mechanics of Judo (the human being as a two-legged chair) when my eldest boy was two. Obviously I made it a game. By three, he was doing simple leg trips and single leg pickups and I began to teach him how to hand-fight to clear a corridor to launch a reverse straight punch to the body. By four he was doing double-leg pickups and Thai roundhouse shin kicks. His siblings were eager, because they wanted to do what he did.

Children in general love to tumble around and basic mechanics of most martial arts, especially grappling arts, are a great fit for those natural monkey-like movements of children. With kids, there is also a social element to the training with other children -- naturally social and outgoing kids tend to like joining in an activity with other little ones.

At this age, there is very little right and wrong in terms of finding the right style or school. I would simply pose some basic questions such as 1) is the instructor experienced and good with children (calm-assertive) and is a good role model, 2) is he always safety conscious and 3) does he run a professional and respectful operation? Of course, you should keep in mind that martial arts instructors have to make a living too. It IS a business after all. But there are schools and instructors who are obviously in martial arts to more than make a living -- martial arts are a passion to them. You can find out by talking to the instructors and observing classes.

For example, look at these guys (I do not know them and I am relying on what's on the website only -- always check them out in person):

Fairfax Jiu Jitsu Instructors Brazilian Jiu Jitsu | Mixed Martial Arts - MMA - Grappling - Muay Thai | Capoeira in Northern Virginia - Fairfax County - Herndon - Chantilly - Ashburn

I understand from the MA world grapevine that the top instructor there has a day job as a lawyer. Obviously he isn't teaching martial arts just for money. The second guy on that page, who heads the kids program, is an attendance officer LCPS.

Dig around and you will be able to find schools like this.
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:40 AM
 
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I agree with you IDL, but note that you taught your young child in a home environment, and perhaps not in a full on class where there are multiple ages and attention spans. One on one training is a completely different approach, and I don't think anyone is too young to learn anything. Have you been to class with 3 year olds? Did you spend hard earned money sending your child to class, where you might have expected something?

Perhaps I should have said something like a 3 year old is too young to truly learn in a structured environment, it can be too time consuming to spend quality time and give good instruction with a group of kids that are barely potty trained. That goes for any activity - just go to any ballet class of 3-4 year olds. They spend more time picking their leotards out of their butts than actually performing the dance moves. Cute as it may be. They do pick it up eventually if they stick with it but the kid that starts at 3 won't necessarily be more talented than the kid that starts at 6 or even later. Either you got it or you don't.

And as a parent that toured multiple dojo's looking for the right place, the quality that I saw in the places that specialized in the younger kids was horrible. My next door neighbor sends her child (5) to one, and he did a form after making his purple belt - and my daughter told me, not him or his mother - that he shouldn't even have a yellow belt. Martial arts (mostly TKD) studios have become like soccer leagues where everybody wins a trophy and nobody loses. As a Martial artist I think would be horrified if you went to some of these places.

I also like the idea of the younger kids being trained by older jr/sr black belts as well as seeing adults training, not sparring with them of course, but watching the training. I saw a lack of that at the dojo's I toured, other than the paid instructors you rarely seen anyone over the age of 16 - those that are serious martial artists have moved to real training facilities - like the ones you mentioned. - which if you looked start kids at age 6.
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Old 02-27-2013, 01:31 PM
 
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Yes, individualized instruction helps a great deal, but again, much depends on the parents and children in question. I started my eldest with swimming lessons before he was 1 1/2. And that was in a group setting. Most children there were screaming and crying wildly. My son found it hilarious to be dunked in water (he's very social and outgoing and loves new experiences). My second child panicked a little more (and probably would have scremed and cried wildly if she were the first child in my family), but she saw how her brother was and was more courageous than her natural personality would dictate.

While that particular school may have a strict age limit, other good places may evaluate a child on an individual basis. Certainly I have seen kids ready to train in Judo at age 3 and have seen those who shouldn't at age 6. A lot also depends on the parents, obviously. Some parents simply aren't ready with very little kids and can be neurotic. Others seem a little too blase. Since personality and maturation rates are highly variable with kids (and parents! ), the useful thing to do is identify the kind of places I mentioned above and then talk to the instructors.

I wouldn't ever send my kids to a "McDojo" but I am pretty serious about fighting arts. Another person may not be and may be perfectly content with social, disciplinary and physicial benefits a well-run McDojo provides.
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:26 AM
 
1,326 posts, read 2,688,230 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiaLimaDelta View Post
I wouldn't ever send my kids to a "McDojo" but I am pretty serious about fighting arts. Another person may not be and may be perfectly content with social, disciplinary and physicial benefits a well-run McDojo provides.
On that I agree completely! Love "McDojo"! Will have to tell my daughter's Master that one. My girl is very serious as well - even at the age of 10. She is currently adding BJJ - having already done well in TKD, Goju, Hap Ki do - as well as kobudo and self defense techniques.

The DC metro area has multiple options for all types of training, and I applaude the OP on deciding to have her child try it, I just think she needs to be aware of what is out there.
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Old 02-28-2013, 02:46 PM
 
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I know I'm not in the area anymore but wanted to add my 2 cents. We signed our 5 year old son up for Tae Kwon Do a couple of weeks ago. His first class he was a little distracted (there was another group behind him and this was the first time he had ever been) and his second class he did great. Much less distracted and picked the moves right up. So far we haven't had to pay much ($25) for 4 classes to see if he would be interested. We got a free uniform. The older kids that have black belts help the owner's son instruct the younger ones. We wanted to sign our daughter up but we were told that she wasn't old enough and we needed to wait at least 9 more months. We don't have to commit to any long term commitment either. It's month to month and you have to attend at least 2-3 days a week.
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Old 02-28-2013, 05:05 PM
 
1,326 posts, read 2,688,230 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riley09swb View Post
I know I'm not in the area anymore but wanted to add my 2 cents. We signed our 5 year old son up for Tae Kwon Do a couple of weeks ago. His first class he was a little distracted (there was another group behind him and this was the first time he had ever been) and his second class he did great. Much less distracted and picked the moves right up. So far we haven't had to pay much ($25) for 4 classes to see if he would be interested. We got a free uniform. The older kids that have black belts help the owner's son instruct the younger ones. We wanted to sign our daughter up but we were told that she wasn't old enough and we needed to wait at least 9 more months. We don't have to commit to any long term commitment either. It's month to month and you have to attend at least 2-3 days a week.
Month to months are great. There are many complaints about 1 year + contracts that you can't get out of if your kid doesn't like it. They make you sign up with an agency that collects the payments and take it to a collection agency if you change your mind. I hope he continues to enjoy it.
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