A popular after school activity is karate lessons. Where I live in New Jersey, there is practically one karate school in each town. Approximately an equal number of boys and girls are enrolled. My son’s school first starts accepting students at age 3 in their “Little Dragons” program. The school trains all ages of kids and also offers adult karate and kick boxing classes at night.
The most important factor to consider when signing up your son or daughter is to make sure that he really wants to learn karate. I was lucky because my son asked me if he could take lessons, so I knew he was truly interested. Some of his classmates were already enrolled in various karate schools and they were practicing some moves in the schoolyard (although the sensei (Japanese for “authority figure” – a common term for martial arts teachers) tells the kids not to do karate outside of the lessons).
In order for a child to love and stay with the karate program, it’s important that both the parents’ and child’s goals are the same. For example, I was thrilled that my son wanted to learn karate because it meant that if he stuck with it, he would have a lifelong skill and knowledge of something useful. It also meant that he was participating in an activity that helped increase his physical fitness abilities. He is motivated to attend the lessons and I am equally motivated to drive him there and pay for the tuition.
Another benefit of karate lessons is the acquisition of self defense techniques. Self defense is the most obvious reason to encourage martial arts lessons. There are small and somewhat skinny boys in the classes as well as shy pre-teen and teenager girls. A good karate school should communicate to the students how to resolve conflicts, maintain personal responsibility for your actions and how to avoid bullies, while teaching self defense. A good martial arts school can help bullies and the kids the bullies pick on. The bullies can learn how to respect others while the bullied kids can learn how to defuse a conflict and how to defend themselves.
One of the greatest advantages of attending karate school is the development of a life skill, as I mentioned earlier. The skills garnered through martial arts include self discipline, perseverance (the chant in most karate schools is “Our goal is Black Belt!”), patience, respect, courage and confidence. These lessons progress even farther if the parents reinforce the same values at home as the sensei does in karate school.