Your child wants to learn martial arts. You’re on board, too. Your child is running around the house with excitement. They even show you a Muay Thai kick and mimic a few Kung Fu Panda moves. The only problem is that you don’t know which martial arts studio for kids they should attend. There are so many of them. So, how do you pick a studio from the many options available?
To choose a good martial art studio for kids, you must consider your child’s safety and the instructor’s years of experience teaching kids. Furthermore, examine the classes offered, the location and price, the reasons you want your kids to learn martial arts, and the structure of the martial arts classes.
Taking time to pick the perfect martial arts training for your children is worth the effort. You can rest, knowing your child will be safe. Your kids will also be able to take advantage of the benefits the best martial arts schools present, such as self-defense and self-discipline.
They’ll also meet your primary goals for introducing them to martial arts. Additionally, you’ll get value for the money you paid and have peace of mind every time your ward leaves for training.
Below, we’ll examine all the factors you should consider when choosing a martial arts studio for your children to attend. Furthermore, we’ll delve into how to assess each of these factors.
Things to consider before deciding on a martial arts studio for kids
You must back up your kids’ excitement by researching the best martial arts schools that meet their needs. Else, you risk the excitement fizzling out and your money going down the drain.
To choose a good martial arts school, these are the factors you should consider.
Martial art studio’s safety
The martial arts school you choose must be safe, and your kids must feel safe, too. Safety in this context is quite broad. It includes factors such as proper space and equipment, security systems and apparatus, and policies for serious issues like bullying and hazing.
Space and equipment
How appropriate is the space for learning martial arts? Is it safe? You don’t want a studio close to potential hazards, such as a gas station.
Is the martial art school fitted with the right equipment and proper training gear? For example, are the training mats and wall paddings suitable to cushion hard contacts?
Security system and apparatus
What does their sign-in/out procedure look like? Can they account for everyone in and out of the studio every time? A suitable sign-in/out procedure will document who dropped off and picked up the children.
Most martial arts schools will also have security cameras fitted in the right spots. This is especially true for the training area and all entry and exit locations.
Clear policies and standards
A well-run studio should have policies on bullying, hazing, parent participation, and the use of phones.
Speaking of hazing, the martial arts studio must strongly discourage older students from trying to “initiate” new members into their groups. Hazing has negative effects, such as sexual assault on new students.
The studio must also have policies regulating phone use. Students – adults or kids – must not use their phones in the bathrooms or locker rooms. Parents and caregivers must also have clarity on when they can take photos and videos.
Instructor’s years of experience
Irrespective of the impressive dojo or fancy training gear, instructors are the bedrock of any martial arts studio. The lead instructor should have considerable experience.
Furthermore, a big chunk of their experience must be with children. The instructors must have mastered different teaching techniques and know how to teach them to kids.
Martial arts instructors with many years of experience know how to handle different scenarios that may play out with kids. For instance, they know how to tailor martial arts classes and lessons to each student’s strengths while also addressing their weaknesses.
Martial art classes offered
A studio does not have to offer all the martial arts classes there are. That said, a good studio should offer a broad range of martial arts disciplines so that your children can learn diverse martial arts skills.
Some popular martial arts disciplines include karate, kung fu, jiu-jitsu, aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, and Muay Thai. If you have experience with martial arts, you can easily cross out martial arts schools that do not offer the training you want.
For many parents who do not know much about martial arts, it’s important to identify why you want your kids to learn martial arts. For example, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Taekwondo are exceptional for building fitness.
Martial art classes structure
The way a studio structures its martial arts training can have an outsized impact on how much your child learns.
Especially with kids, the training should be structured in a way the kids have fun and are regularly rewarded for their growth. There should be an adequate level of positive reinforcement for the kids.
There should also be a clear idea of how each class would look for each age group. This includes warm-ups, drilling, games, and sparring. Learning should also be fun, particularly for the age group.
Location and price
No matter how good a martial arts studio is, there’s no point in signing up if getting your kids to classes would be difficult. What should you do if there aren’t any good studios around you?
You can choose a martial arts school far from you. However, the location and timing must work for your existing schedule. You also want to factor in how much the long distance will increase your total monthly cost.
Speaking of costs, many factors contribute to the cost of martial arts classes for kids. Prices may be cheaper in one location than the other, but is the area safe? Your priority should be getting the best value after considering all the other major factors.
Reason for choosing martial arts and personal goals
The goals you want to achieve by enrolling your kids in martial arts go a long way in determining your choice of martial arts studio.
The studio you choose must highlight how their martial arts training meets your personal goals. Let’s examine some of these reasons.
Martial arts for personal growth
There’s a sense of pride you feel as a parent when your kids overcome challenges. It is crucial to create avenues for your kids to challenge themselves.
Martial arts, by nature, pose many challenges for your kids. They have to solve challenges during sparring to overcome their opponents. Moving from one belt helps them internalize how to work hard at a goal and reap the rewards later.
The more they overcome these challenges, the more they grow in different areas. Each win also enhances their confidence in their ability to overcome challenges. They won’t shrink in the face of any obstacle but see it as an opportunity for personal growth.
Martial arts for physical fitness
Another reason parents choose martial arts is to help their kids improve their physical fitness. Martial arts provide a fun and consistent way for kids to be involved in physical activity.
Whether you want to improve your kids’ baseline conditioning or you want to help them lose weight, martial arts can help you meet both goals.
When helping overweight kids, martial art is a viable long-term option in helping them to lose weight. The nature of the training does not feel as arduous as typical exercise routines.
As they grow accustomed to expressing themselves through physical activity, they begin to love physical activity. This love is important if their health progress is to endure the test of time.
Martial arts for competition
The end goal for some parents and even kids is to compete at the highest level. Competitions provide a different level of challenge for kids. Your children get to test themselves against other kids they’ve likely never fought before.
When your kids win, they learn it’s the reward for focus and practice. If they lose, your kids will learn many lessons, including an accurate assessment of their skills. Either way, your child improves.
Martial arts for cultural enrichment
Whether you want to expose your kids to the tangibles or the intangibles of Asian culture, martial arts is appropriate.
With intangibles, they learn respect, discipline, and collectivism. In terms of tangibles, they learn greetings, sitting posture, fight rituals, dances, and music.
Martial arts and all its disciplines are steeped in Asian culture and tradition. Over the years, some disciplines have also evolved with inputs from different countries. For example, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a variant of Japanese Jiu Jitsu.
So, you’re not only exposing them to Asian culture but a blend of many cultures. If this is your goal, you must ensure the martial arts studio you choose is a traditional school that promotes other cultures.
Martial arts for self-defense
Self-defense is a life-saving skill you should help your kids master.
Irrespective of the many times your kids walk away from fights, there are times they are unavoidable. They need to be able to fend for themselves in such situations.
You won’t always be there to protect your kids. Self-defense is another valid reason to enroll your kids in a martial arts class.
During martial arts classes for kids, they work with other kids. This partnership can be for sparring or for completing a task. Through many interactions like this, they learn how to communicate and relate with other kids.
Kids can also build confidence by performing in front of their peers. Gradually, they let their guard down and make new friends. This is a better experience than being at home watching TV or playing video games.
When should children start martial arts class?
The age at which a child should start martial arts depends on the child’s maturity and the age at which the parents are comfortable enrolling them in martial arts classes.
You can define a child’s maturity by how they tell right from wrong, their ability to take instructions, and their ability to practice.
Sometimes, even if you think your child is ready, some martial arts schools have age limits. You may want to confirm that during your search, too.
Ultimately, when your kids start martial arts is up to you. You want to consider the following questions.
- How well can they tell right from wrong?
- Can they be attentive for the duration of even the best martial arts class?
- Do your kids have the correct manners for their age?
- Do your kids know their actions can affect others?
- Can your kids reliably practice earlier lessons?
If you answered yes to all these questions, then your kid is ready to start martial art classes.
Steps to choosing the best martial arts school for your kids
You’ve learned all the factors you should consider when choosing a martial arts school for your kids. The next step is tying all these factors together and answering the questions below.
To choose the best martial arts studio for your kids, you must perform internet research, visit the studio, and participate in a class. You should also confirm the classes the studio offers, understand their belt system, learn their pricing, and finally make a decision.
We advise that you keep a journal to start documenting facts about each studio. You can even create a scoring rubric that rewards the factors more important to you.
For example, the maximum overall score you can give a studio on security is 10, while it can be 5 for pricing.
Do your research on the internet
The internet should be the first place to start your search. You can use Google to pool a list of potential martial arts schools that meet your location and distance criteria. Pay attention to the reviews posted on places like Google and Yelp.
The next step is to visit each studio’s website to read about their classes and the age limit for kids. Use this to gather as much information as you can. With this information, prepare questions before you visit.
Then visit the martial arts schools’ social media pages. Watch videos, and check out their posts and comments. What are people saying? What’s the ambiance like?
You should also search for the studio on social media outside of the studio’s handles. Are people saying negative things about the studio? That’s a potential red flag there.
After this step, you should have reduced the number of studios to maybe 3-5.
Make an appointment and visit the location
Schedule a visit to each studio via their preferred method. When you visit, pay attention to things like:
- Is the area the studio is located safe?
- Did you observe security cameras?
- Do people sign in and out of the studio?
- Does the studio incorporate Asian culture into its curriculum?
- Did the studio pay particular attention to the safety of everyone?
- Is the studio child-friendly?
- Are the protective gear and equipment fit for use or worn out?
- Do the kids have privacy in their locker rooms?
Participate in one of the classes
You now have a strong feel for what the studio offers. The next step is to participate in one of the classes. Your goal here is to assess the instructor(s) and the structure of the class.
For the instructor(s), you want to evaluate:
- How they use simple kid-friendly examples to drive home their point.
- How they incorporate life lessons into their training.
- If the kids are having fun or the class is a snooze fest.
- How patient they are with kids and if they pay attention to individual kids.
For the class structure, you want to determine if children are grouped by rank so that they are challenged based on their level.
Check what classes they offer and for what age groups
Ask the instructors what classes they offer at the studio and for what age groups.
If the training and age limit the studio offers do not align with your needs, you can strike them off your list. It’s imperative to keep your goals in mind throughout this process.
Learn their ranking/belt system
Do they have a ranking or belt system? If they do, how does it work? Teaching techniques for children are different from the same for adults. Kids love incremental rewards.
Rewards give the kids an idea that they’re growing and improving. They don’t know enough about mechanics or the like and need to be told they’re making progress.
It is systems like the ranking or belt system that help children appreciate their growth.
Inquire about instruction fees
The last detail you need is how much it will cost you. You want to ask the studio what the cost covers. Can the children attend an unlimited number of classes per month? Is there a registration fee?
Are you entitled to any discount if you’re enrolling more than one child? Be sure there are no hidden costs.
Make a decision
This last step is the crowning moment for all your hard work so far. Throughout the process, you’ve been giving scores to the studios on your list. It’s time to tally the scores. The studio with the highest score should get the nod.
You should trust and back yourself that you’ve been as objective as you can be throughout the process. After all, your kids’ welfare is the priority.
What do you do if two studios have equal scores? You can choose the studio requiring the least logistics to take your children. Or you can choose based on your child’s favorite colors.
Takeaway: All kids martial art schools are not created the same
All martial arts studios are not the same. That’s why it is necessary to put in the time to properly assess multiple martial art school for kids before making a choice.
The factors you should consider include how safe the studio is, the instructor’s experience, location and price, the type and structure of the classes, and the reasons you want your children to learn martial arts.
If you’re in Bergen County, NJ, or any of the neighboring areas, you can check out Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA for kids martial arts. We take pride in partnering with parents to bring life transformation to kids through martial arts.
We are open to discussing how our martial arts program fits into your plans and goals for your kids’ growth. Learn how to get started today.