Training is based on attending at least two sessions per week although these do not have to be at the same place – you can mix and match between any of the three clubs , and your child can do more than the minimum two nights – up to all six! This can be useful if your child has missed a few sessions and wants to catch up, or there’s a grading coming up and they want extra training to prepare.
As a parent of three children myself, I fully understand the need for children to have an outlet for physical expression, to be involved in some regular exercise – keeping their hearts and bodies healthy and developing strength and flexibility, to develop their balance and co-ordination, to reinforce discipline and build their self confidence.
These days, children do not have the opportunity to get as much exercise as they used to, there’s not as much P.E. in schools, and due to the culture of TV and computer games much of children’s play is less physical than it used to be. Part of our mission is to replace this missing exercise.
Why is TaeKwon-Do Good for Children?
Children take up Tae Kwon-Do for different reasons – maybe they know someone who already does it and it sounds ‘cool’! Often parents are looking for the solution to their child’s lack of confidence or self esteem, or they are looking to increase their fitness, or find some kind of ‘structured activity’ to keep them busy, get them more active and stop them from just hanging around with their mates! For teenagers, it can get them off the streets two nights a week – doing something positive!
We have often helped children who have had problems with bullying – we don’t encourage them to physically ‘fight back’ (though we do tell them that sometimes that’s just what you have to do, after all, you wouldn’t want them to just stand there and be hit would you?), although having the knowledge and confidence that they can do so if needed can often mean that a child’s whole demeanour can change from that of a victim to a more confident person who is less likely to be bullied in the first place.
Tae Kwon-Do can be the answer to any of the above problems – the results don’t happen overnight, as with taking up any new activity, your child will need to stick at it to start reaping the benefits.
What Do They Do in the Classes?
The TaeKwon-Do syllabus for children is identical to that of the adults, however we inject much more fun into their sessions. Due to their (generally) shorter concentration spans than that of an adult, their sessions need to be broken down into smaller chunks of instruction, mixed in with games aimed not only at having fun, but also improving the children’s fitness, flexibility, strength, co-ordination etc. Examples of these games may be ‘hoppy racing’ – using space hoppers (remember them!) which help to improve leg strength in particular, as well as being generally good exercise (you should try it!), also games such as ‘ninja touch’ and other popular games in the classes. The children love to punch and kick pads so we often use small punching/kicking pads for fast pad-work sessions to improve technique and power, and in learning to put together combinations of moves which are useful for sparring.
The children will be sparring – this is our ‘touch contact’ fighting, where the opponents are only attempting to make contact with their techniques, not to hurt or draw blood in any way! The sparring sessions are always very closely monitored by a qualified instructor – anyone going too hard will be stopped. In order for a child to participate in sparring they need to wear protective gear (foam head guards, hand and foot protectors, shin guards, gum shields and for the boys groin guards). This equipment is only available through us – please ask for an order form with the prices. Children are usually ready to start sparring after the first three months training.
What Does it Cost?
The children’s classes cost the same as the adults – £40 per month by standing order (or £5 extra if paying by cash or cheque). The second person (child or adult) from the same family costs £40, the third £15, fourth £10 and the fifth is FREE!
What Age Can My Child Start?
We take children in our kids classes from the age of five once they have completed their first term in reception class at school (so from the January). Once children reach the age of around 12/13 we start to think about moving them up to the adults classes – both due to their physical size and maturity level.
Do You Stop for the Holidays?
No, we keep training through all the school holidays – we even train for a lot of the bank holidays. We stop training for Christmas, although there will generally be one session between Christmas and New Year. Any class cancellations will be shown on our calendar.
How Will My Child Progress?
As with the adults, there are ten different coloured belts for the children. To move through the different coloured belts the children need to take exams, known as gradings. These are available in Bristol every three months, although I advise parents to expect their children to grade at half the adult speed – so every six months initially. Each grading costs £27 and once your child has passed they will receive a certificate and their new belt. Tying on the next colour of belt can be a huge confidence boost, they can look back at the other newer beginners to see just how much they have learnt and improved. They can also of course look forwards to the higher belt colours, and hopefully try to emulate some of our more senior (in grade, not necessarily age!) children.
To date I have taken around 30 children to black belt (this is an adult level black belt, not a ‘children’s black belt’ which has to be re-taken at 16), but in that time I have taught literally hundreds! It is my belief that literally any person, adult or child, can make it to black belt, the one thing they have to do is not give up!
Will My Child Be Safe?
At Bristol North & Bristol South TaeKwon-Do we take the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults very seriously. All our instructors have had safeguarding training. Should you have any concerns you can speak to any of our instructors in confidence.
We are very proud to have been awarded the ‘Safeguarding in Martial Arts Mark’: The Safeguarding Code in Martial Arts recognises clubs and providers in England who have have demonstrated that they have reached and maintained good safeguarding standards.
Who Are the Instructors?
All of our instructors including myself are fully qualified (our qualifications are recognised by the British Sports Council), insured and regularly DBS (CRB) checked. This qualification also includes first aid training which has been tailored to the specific needs of a TaeKwon-Do class.
We also benefit from the extra help of senior grade adults from our adults classes during the children’s sessions. These assistant instructors are never left unsupervised or unobserved during a class, they do however contribute greatly, allowing children to have a degree of individual attention – helping them with particular areas of difficulty.
We operate a child-safe policy; parents are always welcome to stay and watch at any of the classes – in fact there are always some parents in observance at every lesson. Please feel free to come and watch any of the classes and chat to other parents to find out their views on our lessons!
Can Children Enter Competitions?
Yes, all of the ITC national and local competitions are open to both adults and children, and we can also enter you into any open competitions that you may be interested in. There are also international competitions available through our ITC membership – we have our own UK squad which regularly attends international competitions. I have in the past had an 11 year old from one of my clubs become World Champion!
I always encourage children to have a go – they will only ever be competing against children the same grade and height as them (you won’t ever have a huge 14 year old fighting a tiny 7 year old!). Competing can be a great experience for young and old alike, it can be a very good learning opportunity, and of course, winning or being placed will be a huge boost to anyone’s confidence. My students often bring home medals and trophies from both local and national tournaments. See our competitions page for more information.
How Does My Child Start?
Once your child is ready to start, you can just bring them along – there’s no need to book. Please ensure they are wearing loose comfortable clothing such as jogging bottoms and a t-shirt. Please also make sure that their trousers do not come down past their ankles where they could fall underneath their feet – this can cause them to slip over. Please remove any jewellery, and bring along a drink of water! It is also not a good idea to stuff them full of chocolate just before training – halfway through the class they will suddenly run out of energy! It is much better to give them a snack such as flapjack after school, which should give them a sustained energy release to last through the lesson. For more advice on nutrition for children, I recommend you visit the British Heart Foundation’s website where they have an excellent section on children’s nutrition.