From Okinawa to Korea

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Michele123, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    I would agree as far as the skill is concerned. That is why there are so many incremental tests for that age group. My son was essentially testing for a level of white belt. And he is quite proficient in bike riding (no training wheels) thank you. He can write his first name and has completed a year of preschool (he is in his second year).

    Several of or better black belts started TKD at 4. Yes they aren’t going to be very skilled at that age, but learning the general movements and working on them over the course of many years makes a big difference in the type of BB, at least from what I’ve seen in our association. They just seem to have a deeper understanding and comfort level with the techniques.

    Until they are 7, they are not allowed to progress beyond 7th gup anyway. Though I have yet to see someone under 7 actually get to 7th gup. My daughter (6.5) is the first in our school that I’ve seen actually get to 8th gup. All the other under-7’s I’ve seen only get a few of the incremental white belt ranks before they get to the 7 & up class.

    With my daughter in the class, my son spent 8 months watching the class from the sidelines, anxious to turn four so he could join the class. When he did, the instructor expressed amazement at his ability and level of technique for his age. Apparently he picked up some things just watching. I believe allowing him to start now is good for him. While he has the interest and desire (and natural aggression) we are letting him take TKD. The benefits may look slightly different than in older children but they are still there.

    Finally, the ability to loose graciously, at any age but especially 4, is invaluable.


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  2. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    My daughter started just before she was 4 (like a month before ;)) in the same sort of thing.

    Usually, kids aren't allowed to join the junior classes until they're 7, but having done the 2 years and got her baby black (and white) belt she joined the junior class around her 6th birthday.

    It definitely helped - while she's still not exactly skilled she's technically better than 7-9 year olds that have just started.

    The next restriction is she can't go past 6th kup until she's at least 9.
     
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  3. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master Black Belt

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    Ideally, I think, a martial arts class for kids that age will teach them those preparatory skills. Developing basic motor skills, teaching them how to stand in line and follow directions etc, should be a big part of the program for that age group. It should be just as much of a focus as any actual TKD techniques. Or perhaps more properly, the TKD techniques can be a fun vehicle for them to learn those skills.

    I've been teaching a 4-5 year olds class for about 4 or 5 years now, and probably about half the kids end up moving up to the older kids' class in time. They don't start out with great skills, but by the time they move up, they're ahead of their same-age peers who started at 6 or 7. And they have fun, get exercise, learn something, make friends... I think that's the important part.
     
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  4. mrt2

    mrt2 Blue Belt

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    You have been encouraging of my efforts at age 53 to take up MA, so in I say this with respect. On this issue we disagree.

    Frankly, unless your son is some kind of prodigy, there is no such thing as good TKD technique for a 4 year old. If you have good technique, it is good whatever age you are. And if you have bad technique, then you should not make excuses. (and fwiw, I am completely aware that the same issue comes up with old age. I cannot kick as high as a 16 year old, and probably never will.)

    I have seen my school's little ninja's program, and it is mostly TKD themed games. It is a valuable source of revenue for my TKD teacher, and as WaterGal said, a way to ease kids into the regular TKD program, which starts around age 7, which in my mind is still pretty young. From what I see, the threshold where you really see crisp technique is around age 10. And, like at your school, there is a small cohort, maybe 5 or 6 teenage black belts who started as little kids who are now 2nd Dans that have really impressive technique.

    That said, I still don't see much advantage to starting kids really early. After starting TKD in March, a woman I work with started her 12 year old in TKD about 3 months ago. The kid is kind of straddling the older kids and adults class, and has shown some real dedication. He just made yellow belt. (8th gup in our system) And, I say this with no malice or bias. His kicks are already better than a lot of 8 to 10 year olds who are supposedly much more advanced. He did free sparring against a brown belt and held his own. He doesn't yet know all the forms, but he will learn those quickly and will pass up a lot of kids just 1 or 2 years younger than him who have been doing this for 4 years or more. Now, for sure, he still has some work to do on his punches, blocks, stances, but if he sticks with it, he will be a black belt by the time he is 15, and you won't be able to tell the difference between him, and some 15 year old who started at age 4.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
  5. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    I think a lot of that depends on the individual rather than the age they started or how long they've been practicing.

    I know I made a comparison with my daughter, but generally I don't like comparisons because it's "about the individual journey" ;)

    That said, she's pretty much the only one in her age group that can do a turning kick with anything close to correct posture (the others do some sort of vertical sweep). A little of that is the time she's spent, a little is that I show her too (and other parents really don't) but mostly it's her wanting to do it right.

    There are teenagers in my school who have been practicing 5 years who are well above others of the same age that started at 4-7, and the opposite is also true.

    There's also me, at 41 with 2 1/2 years experience who can run rings in every measurable way around early-mid 20s with 15 years experience. I guess I put my hobby at a higher priority than they do...

    Then there's a few early 20s who can absolutely toy with me if they so desire :D They've been practicing since their early years and the level of experience really shows.

    So really, some will get a lot out of starting young, some won't. Some will start later and quickly equal or overtake some who started young, some won't. Some (like me, and from what I've seen, you) will start much later and put a lot into it from personal desire, some will just keep turning up and going through the motions from some form of strange feeling that they should...
     
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  6. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    I think the difference is that you are looking for adult techniques from kids. There is a progression in technique. A white belt being graded is not expected to have the form and power of a black belt.

    A 4-year old white belt testing for another level of white belt is expected to have the basic motions down. What surprised our instructor is that my son, on his first try, got the basics of a roundhouse down, I.e. turning his hip over as he came around to kick. The instructor hadn’t demonstrated it for him yet. My son knew what it was and how to turn his hip over simply from watching.

    The first couple ranks, both for child and adult, are mostly about learning the basic motions. That’s what the young kids learn. It gives them a good foundation for later. Our little kid class isn’t just a bunch of games (though occasionally there are games during warmups). They certainly won’t achieve black belt at this age (nor much beyond white) but they learn the basic motions, kicks, etc. they learn the structure of a class, etc. it’s not to say the little kid class is necessary by any means. But I don’t think it is anywhere near harmful and I do think it can be helpful.

    I’m more bothered by “junior black belts” than little kid classes.


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  7. dvcochran

    dvcochran 2nd Black Belt

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    I would take children as young a three years old after a one on one screening. Yes it was somewhat subjective but it was based on experience. You just cannot expect every child that young to progress the same. I was very adamant with the parents that they would not nor be expected to progress at a "set" standard. I take advantage of each child's learning ability and maturity. My youngest Junior AAU gold medalist was Mikey Hickerson who was five at the time. He could set down and have a conversation better than many adults in class. His ability to absorb and retain information is mind boggling. Mikey is about 38 years old now and graduated with honors from Brown University and is a nuclear engineer. Not surprising.
    But I digress, my point is a knowledgeable instructor will interface with the parents regularly and let them know how their child is doing, making sure not to draw comparisons from another child. It is a process and should not be left up to the results of several minutes during a testing at that age. For me, it doesn't really matter how well they do at that age until they get to green belt, where the comparison with other students can really surface. If a kid is struggling, that is the time when an instructor really earns their keep, assuming they choose to teach children.
     
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  8. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    @Michele123

    I started my son at 4 years old 9 years ago....and its has been great watching him develop over the years. We started letting him compete locally at 5 and went from there.

    I wouldn't trade the last 9 years for anything...lot of money spent but well worth it. Enjoy it while youcan....when they turn 13 most days you want to choke them to death....lol.

    I might be biased and wrong....but I really believe starting them early helps. It just makes the techniques more natural for them.
     
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  9. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    I practiced with my son today a bit. He actually does know his pattern. I was surprised. There was turn he hesitates on and second guesses himself but otherwise he knew it. I guess he had just gotten nervous last night. Tonight he worked on it in class then when class was over he got to retest. He did great! He earned his first stripe on his white belt (horizontal stripe so a whole new belt).

    He was beaming. I love that’s he learning to deal with disappointment, loosing, and perseverance.


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  10. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

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    Amazing! Well done little kickin' dude! For sure, what a beautiful lesson he's learned :) (and good on you for being so encouraging and giving him the opportunity to learn that)
     
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  11. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

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    Hahaha..

    This fella's gettin around!

    Not really relevant to the thread, but points for tryin!
     
  12. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    Some exciting (to me) things. So now that I’m at 4th gup, I’m eligible for a bit more participation.

    First, I’m allowed to help out in the little kids’ class (basically just holding pads and stuff but still cool). I’m excited about this one because I’m there anyway since my older two kids are in the class and I think holding pads will be helpful in my own learning as I’ll have to learn the drills from the other side.

    Second, Demo team tryouts are coming up and for the first time I’m eligible to try out. (Minimum tank of 4th gup). It looks like a lot of fun plus some extra practice since practices are outside of normal class time. Tryouts are in a couple weeks so we will see if I make it. The Demo team is mostly for marketing but I think it’ll be a lot of fun, plus I’ll get to meet students from other schools.

    Class-wise I’m currently working on my new pattern and on a new chuck pattern. Now that it’s getting cold out, I don’t really have a place at home I can easily practice my chucks with them in hand, so I practice the moves without actual chucks in hand. That helps me memorize the sequence of movements but it just isn’t the same. Does anyone have any tips for practicing chucks at home, inside, when the rooms are too small?


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  13. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

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    That's awesome! You'll love helping out in the kids class, I know I was stoked at 4th Kyu when my instructor asked if I wanted to help out, its alot of fun :).

    Being part of a demo team would be great fun, and good experience too, go for it!
     
  14. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    So today I got to help the little kids class for the first time. I worked with two brothers who are no-belts. Things have changed so much since the 1990’s! When I used to help with the kids class in my old dojo you were allowed to physically position the kids how they were to be and move their arms/legs for them so they could feel how it should. After a few reps they figured out to do it themselves (usually). In today’s society I figured it’s probably a no-no. I was to hold pads and help them work on 5 kicks, starting with a front kick (just the basic movement, they didn’t have to have toes pulled back). I spent most of my time with them on front kick. I kept having to remind them to get in fighting stance when it was their turn and talk them through hands up, right leg back. But even that wasn’t enough to get them in the right position. Even pointing at their right leg or doing it myself yielded no results. When they finally caught on to that I had them kick forward and Land forward. Nope. Couldn’t do that. Kicked crooked and landed with legs twisted. Then asked them to get back in fighting stance to try again and they’d forgotten how! Now start the whole crazy thing over.

    My kids were tired after class so we didn’t stick around but I plan to ask my instructor for tips tomorrow night and if we are allowed to physically position kids. Tonight was frustrating. I’ve never had such trouble teaching little kids before. I have even more respect for my instructor and how he is able to actually teach these kids techniques.


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  15. dvcochran

    dvcochran 2nd Black Belt

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    Great news. It is exciting to hear about your progress and hopeful introduction to the demo team!
     
  16. dvcochran

    dvcochran 2nd Black Belt

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    Teaching is a process just like learning a new technique is. Do you have mirrors in your dojo/dojang? I am certain they are the best learning tool in a room. Being able to adjust is helpful but when you tell a person to watch and they have to visualize the move it greatly helps the learning process. Break the technique into small pieces and have them watch you then themselves do the small piece. Learning any MA is much about repetition so don't be surprised when someone doesn't get a move the 1st, 2nd... 10th time. It is just part of it.
     
  17. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    Depends.

    On signing up to the school we attend part of the disclaimer specifically mentions that physical contact is to be expected.
     
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  18. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

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    Ahhhh yep, I know that feeling XD. It is tricky, but it is a matter of finding out the best the way that particular child learns and processes things. Some children it's really helped to reposition their hand/arm/fist physically, other times through me standing directly in front of them and demonstrating the technique like a mirror to them helped. Others understand more verbally. It's a fine art hehe. But you'll get the hang of it.

    And remember, they are young kids ;). We can't expect them to absolutely perfectly nail a technique, so I simply make sure that they have moved in a slight direction of better technique and really praise that, while letting them know what to focus or work on. Some kid's have great power and spirit, so I really praise that whilst getting them focusing on their technique. Others have great technique which I let them know about, but then try to push them further to add power and 'oompfh'.
     
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  19. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master Black Belt

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    Our general rule for TKD is that positioning a person is okay, as long as you 1) tell them before you touch them, and 2) touch at the elbow/knee or below (so, moving a knee or foot is okay, but don't touch a child's thigh or hip).

    With totally inexperienced kids, this kind of thing isn't uncommon.

    I find it helpful to teach using different modalities; so when I'm first teaching a technique I'll explain what we're doing in simple terms (verbal instruction), while demonstrating it (visual instruction), and then have them do it (kinesthetic instruction) while I also do it with them standing in front of them. If they still can't get it at all, or sometimes if they need a bit of a stance correction, I'll try positioning them.

    If they're making a bunch of different mistakes, don't give them every possible correction - that's too much info for one day, and maybe too much info for their rank level. Focus on one or two things they need to work on, and let the rest go for now. If they stick around, there will be plenty more classes for them to work on the other things. The goal for today isn't perfection, it's improvement.

    Praise anything and everything they do well, even if it's "wow, that was a loud yell!" or "that was good focus that time!". Offer more praise than correction, try for at least a 2-to-1 ratio. That will encourage them to continue with the things they are doing well, and help keep them from getting discouraged.

    Lots of repetition. Sometimes, they just need to do the kick badly a bunch of times before they can get better at it. That's okay.
     
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  20. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    I got to help out with the little kids class again. This time I got the kids with the one stripe on their white belt (meaning they are 1/3 of the way through the material to the next full rank). It was night and day difference. It was soooooo much easier working with these kids that had the fundamentals down. We practiced some drills and I showed them one new one. It was amazing to me what a difference there was between the two groups. These kids were able to do the kicks (basically, obviously not adult BB level or anything but they definitely knew what they were doing and would be good for white belt level). They were able to stand in their stances and walk through the drills. When reviewing their drills they already learned, they actually knew them. It was definitely more fun to work with this group. They seemed more focused too, even if they were still little kids that would spin circles when not their turn, when it was their turn they focused and did their drills and techniques. I didn’t feel like I was beating my head against a wall this time! Lol.

    I have a newer, deeper respect for my instructor now. Seeing how he can take those unfocused, unmotivated, clumsy kids, and on a few months get them to where they can do the basic movements. Wow. I always knew he had a gift working with kids from watching the class, but I’m even more amazed at his gift now.


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