What is the lowest age you except for your adult classes and why?

skribs

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I think a lot of this boils down to three questions:
  1. What kind of adults are in your adult class?
  2. What kind of martial art do you do?
  3. How many assistant instructors do you have?
To answer the question asked, I've been to three different martial arts schools, one of which taught two different arts, and I did wrestling as a kid. I'll exclude wrestling, as it was strictly a middle school class.

In my Taekwondo school as a kid, we were in a family class. Ages 8+ could join. I got an exception to start at 7. I think this works very well, because it was mostly families or family-oriented folks in the classes, and being a point-based martial art with strict rules on where and how hard you can kick (until black belt, when the rules lessen slightly), it was fairly safe to spar with adults.

In my Taekwondo school as an adult, the cutoff point was that kids 12-and-under went to a kids class, and teens and adults went to the adult class. For white and yellow belts, kids were further split into 4-7 and 8-12. However, there were many exceptions:
  • Families often tried to stick together as much as possible. If you have kids that are 5, 9, and 14, then it's hard to make it to 3 different classes. So they may all go to the 8-12 class, or they may all go to the adult class. Having extra instructors helped.
  • Sometimes kids were physically or mentally a better fit for a different class. A 9-year-old that is a slow grower or is mentally a 6-year-old may fit better in the 6-year-old class. An 11-year-old that hit their growth spurts already may be a better fit for the teen and adult class, especially if they have trouble controlling their power.
  • Sometimes the schedule just works out that way. Parents work until after the kids' classes, and the adult class is the only one they can go to. These are the kids that really needed the extra help from instructors.
Hapkido at that second TKD school was a little bit different. You had to be either 16+ or you had to be a black belt in the TKD program to join. I personally disagreed with this, as you have kids taking BJJ, but that was the rule my Master had set.

In my BJJ class, there have only been two minors that have shown up to the teen-and-adult class. One was 13, it was his first ever day, and he switched to the kids class and has been there ever since. There's a few kids that are bigger than all the other kids (the 12 year olds compared to the 8 year olds), but are much smaller than the adults. The only other is a girl that I think is around 12 years old, who is already a gray-and-black belt, compared to the majority of the kids that are white belts. (My school is fairly new). She's stayed after the kid's class for the adult class a few times, usually once a month or so.

I posited three questions up above. Let's go into those:
  1. The kind of adults you have makes a huge difference. If the adults are the type that it might be uncomfortable for kids (because they swear, are inappropriate, or don't know what level of intensity to go), then kids should not be in that class. If the adults are respectful of kids, then its fine.
  2. If the art tends to lean on the athleticism of a fighter (such as a combat sport), I think it's less appropriate to mix. If an art is point-based and includes lots of forms, or if the training is more about the conceptual application of martial arts, then I feel it is more okay. There's a difference between putting a kid against an adult in boxing or wrestling, than having a kid practice TKD forms with an adult or work on aikido throws with each other.
  3. In my experience teaching Taekwondo, kids need more structure than adults. For example, teaching a group of kids a form, you go through the form, and then everyone practices it together while the instructor counts each step. Teaching a group of adults, you show them the form, tell them to go practice, and then help whoever needs it. With kids, you need an extra instructor or two to help out with micromanaging the kids.
 

Gerry Seymour

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For me, it was 16 yrs old (though my instructor allowed younger students into his).

I wanted something closer to size parity, so people could work more realistically. I also just don't enjoy much working with kids.
 

GojuTommy

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18 because no one below 18 is remotely an adult.
Tbh though my gf and I refer to 18-24 as independent children.
 
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Yamabushii

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I appreciate all your responses. I've been rethinking upping the age for my adult classes. Right now it's 14+, but at 14 I always do an evaluation to see if they'd be a good fit. My youngest student right now is 18, but was 17 when he began. He's a big kid so it's even better.
 

skribs

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I appreciate all your responses. I've been rethinking upping the age for my adult classes. Right now it's 14+, but at 14 I always do an evaluation to see if they'd be a good fit. My youngest student right now is 18, but was 17 when he began. He's a big kid so it's even better.
If you are open to specific feedback from us, I recommend giving us a bit more detail to work with. Things like:
  • What martial art do you teach?
  • What are the current classes people can take?
  • Why is it that you feel you want to change who can go to which class?
 

GojuTommy

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18 because no one below 18 is remotely an adult.
Tbh though my gf and I refer to 18-24 as independent children
I appreciate all your responses. I've been rethinking upping the age for my adult classes. Right now it's 14+, but at 14 I always do an evaluation to see if they'd be a good fit. My youngest student right now is 18, but was 17 when he began. He's a big kid so it's even better.
i dont believe theres ever any excuse to have obvious children in classes with adults. Even if theyre adult sized their brains and the way they absorb and understand things isnt the same, and I just find it irresponsible and inappropriate to have such large gaps in age.

Can I be convinced to let a 17 yr old in? Maybe. Can I be convinced to let a 15 or 16 yr old in? Hell no.
 

Buka

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For us, it's always been on a strict case by case scenario. With the input of their parent(s) when applicable.

It was easy for us because we had a large student body with a lot of black belts. Everyone in the adult class took all white belts and any newbie youngster under their very experienced wings. Sometimes three or four black belts took someone under their wings. There were no exceptions to this and it was just part of the curriculum. Up to, and including, sparring.

I remember how it started, too. Originally, nobody under the age of eleven could join the kids class, I didn't take anyone younger. As time went on people had kids. And those kids aged. So, all of a sudden, a hard working, dedicated, respectful, long time black belt wanted his seven year old to come to the dojo. So we allowed it, with dad/mom present with all initial training.

In thirty years we never had any problem, it worked out great.

Well, except for one related problem..........

One of our green belts, hardworking, respectful guy came to me and told me about his son. Said his son was ten, but was very small for his age and getting picked on all the time. Said his son was very shy, very quiet, had a few developmental problems, but could we please make an exception?

So, we did. The boy was pretty much as dad described, but he was doing well. Until one day when in a stance in class, he peed. I mean an enormous pee all over the place. The poor kid. So we took him off the floor, got him some dry pants, called his mom who came right down.

And, man, was she ticked off. Big time. Not at us, but at her husband. Turns out the husband lied through his teeth. The kid was actually five, but enormous for his age. The boy wasn't shy and quiet, he was five. He didn't have developmental problems, he was five.

The mom was very nice. I asked her if she wanted to come down to watch her husband get the living bejesus beat out of him. She did. And he did. Then I threw him out of the dojo.

But other than that, any kid that suddenly went into the adult class was just fine. As for sparring with much larger people, so what? It's one of the ways you teach smaller people and kids to deal with that. Nobody got hurt, other than the occasional bloody nose and rare black eye. That happens sometimes in contact sparring.
 

J. Pickard

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i dont believe theres ever any excuse to have obvious children in classes with adults. Even if theyre adult sized their brains and the way they absorb and understand things isnt the same, and I just find it irresponsible and inappropriate to have such large gaps in age.
I think this entirely depends on the content of the class. For example, in a beginner's class there is no difference in rank requirements for a yellow belt regardless of age and the techniques aren't so complicated that a kid can't understand them. If you are just doing floor drills and basic pad work the instruction for a 13 year old is the same as it would be for a 35 year old and in my experience the 13 year olds tend to catch on quicker and do better than those in their 30s and up. Additionally, a lot of people want to train as a family so having less intense and less fight focused classes that are safe for all ages opens up a whole new avenue for potential students that would otherwise never consider training in a martial art.

If it's a sparring/grappling class, then that's another story and classes should be separated by age because of size.
I would recommend doing some reading on stages of development in teens though, there is virtually no difference in cognitive ability of a 16 year old and say a 21 year old, so saying 18+ for any reason other than legal is purely arbitrary. Neuroscientist Dr. Sandra Aamodt has done some good work in this field as well as Neurologist Dr. Francis Jensen.
 

JowGaWolf

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18 for student to be recognized as an adult student. 15 is the lowest as I would go for a child to be in an adult class.

I like to use students to help mold other students. This is done indirectly through training with each others. I think it's important to for teens to see how adults train. Adults usually improve their training when training with someone younger.
 

JowGaWolf

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18 for student to be recognized as an adult student. 15 is the lowest as I would go for a child to be in an adult class.

I like to use students to help mold other students. This is done indirectly through training with each others. I think it's important to for teens to see how adults train. Adults usually improve their training when training with someone younger.
My martial arts partner is almost 25 years younger than me. He helps me to not be slack and I push myself more when I train with him.
 

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As a student, rather than an MA instructor, this is a tricky question for me. As a general rule, my experience has taught me that if the "adults" class starts at age 13+ there's a good chance that the school doesn't attract, nor cater to, adult students who want to really learn a martial art and there's a good chance that the (probably few) actual adults in the class have their reasons for training divided something like: 50% of their motivation is bonding with their kids, 45% getting fit someplace they have to be to pick up their kids anyway, and 5% a desire to learn the MA (mostly because it's more fun than a treadmill).

That's great, I think it's wonderful if parents want to do something like karate or BJJ to bond with their kids and I think fitness is important for everyone, so if they've found a way to do both at one time that they enjoy, more power to them. Since I'm in my 50's and don't have kids and am a MA geek who prioritizes learning the MA as 70+% of my reason for training, I often find that these kinds of schools are a poor fit for me.

Now, I've heard @Buka describe his school before and talk about how I'm missing out on good schools if I dismiss every MA studio that is structured like this, and he's right. The way he describes his school, if I could train with him in that environment, I'd definitely give it a try. Before I started with my current MA I checked out a karate school nearby that had a mix of 16+ years olds and adults in their adult class that seemed pretty good. So, thanks to Buka, I don't reject this sort of place by default anymore, but I do still prioritize schools that have actually adult, adult classes in deciding which schools to visit first when looking for a new place to train.
 

Buka

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As a student, rather than an MA instructor, this is a tricky question for me. As a general rule, my experience has taught me that if the "adults" class starts at age 13+ there's a good chance that the school doesn't attract, nor cater to, adult students who want to really learn a martial art and there's a good chance that the (probably few) actual adults in the class have their reasons for training divided something like: 50% of their motivation is bonding with their kids, 45% getting fit someplace they have to be to pick up their kids anyway, and 5% a desire to learn the MA (mostly because it's more fun than a treadmill).

That's great, I think it's wonderful if parents want to do something like karate or BJJ to bond with their kids and I think fitness is important for everyone, so if they've found a way to do both at one time that they enjoy, more power to them. Since I'm in my 50's and don't have kids and am a MA geek who prioritizes learning the MA as 70+% of my reason for training, I often find that these kinds of schools are a poor fit for me.

Now, I've heard @Buka describe his school before and talk about how I'm missing out on good schools if I dismiss every MA studio that is structured like this, and he's right. The way he describes his school, if I could train with him in that environment, I'd definitely give it a try. Before I started with my current MA I checked out a karate school nearby that had a mix of 16+ years olds and adults in their adult class that seemed pretty good. So, thanks to Buka, I don't reject this sort of place by default anymore, but I do still prioritize schools that have actually adult, adult classes in deciding which schools to visit first when looking for a new place to train.
MetalBoar, one of the things I did was - every four months or so, all the kids from the kids class trained with the adult class. What the students of the adult class did was help all the kids. And taught them to help other new kids.

Worked like a charm.
 

JowGaWolf

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As a student, rather than an MA instructor, this is a tricky question for me. As a general rule, my experience has taught me that if the "adults" class starts at age 13+ there's a good chance that the school doesn't attract, nor cater to, adult students who want to really learn a martial art and there's a good chance that the (probably few) actual adults in the class have their reasons for training divided something like: 50% of their motivation is bonding with their kids, 45% getting fit someplace they have to be to pick up their kids anyway, and 5% a desire to learn the MA (mostly because it's more fun than a treadmill).

That's great, I think it's wonderful if parents want to do something like karate or BJJ to bond with their kids and I think fitness is important for everyone, so if they've found a way to do both at one time that they enjoy, more power to them. Since I'm in my 50's and don't have kids and am a MA geek who prioritizes learning the MA as 70+% of my reason for training, I often find that these kinds of schools are a poor fit for me.

Now, I've heard @Buka describe his school before and talk about how I'm missing out on good schools if I dismiss every MA studio that is structured like this, and he's right. The way he describes his school, if I could train with him in that environment, I'd definitely give it a try. Before I started with my current MA I checked out a karate school nearby that had a mix of 16+ years olds and adults in their adult class that seemed pretty good. So, thanks to Buka, I don't reject this sort of place by default anymore, but I do still prioritize schools that have actually adult, adult classes in deciding which schools to visit first when looking for a new place to train.
That 15 to 16 age group is good for getting teens into a more mature perspective about their training. Teens and adults often have misconceptions about each other. This helps to break those barriers.

Young people often don't like doing things with Old folks. I've found that martial arts is often the exception.
 

skribs

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As a student, rather than an MA instructor, this is a tricky question for me. As a general rule, my experience has taught me that if the "adults" class starts at age 13+ there's a good chance that the school doesn't attract, nor cater to, adult students who want to really learn a martial art and there's a good chance that the (probably few) actual adults in the class have their reasons for training divided something like: 50% of their motivation is bonding with their kids, 45% getting fit someplace they have to be to pick up their kids anyway, and 5% a desire to learn the MA (mostly because it's more fun than a treadmill).

That's great, I think it's wonderful if parents want to do something like karate or BJJ to bond with their kids and I think fitness is important for everyone, so if they've found a way to do both at one time that they enjoy, more power to them. Since I'm in my 50's and don't have kids and am a MA geek who prioritizes learning the MA as 70+% of my reason for training, I often find that these kinds of schools are a poor fit for me.

Now, I've heard @Buka describe his school before and talk about how I'm missing out on good schools if I dismiss every MA studio that is structured like this, and he's right. The way he describes his school, if I could train with him in that environment, I'd definitely give it a try. Before I started with my current MA I checked out a karate school nearby that had a mix of 16+ years olds and adults in their adult class that seemed pretty good. So, thanks to Buka, I don't reject this sort of place by default anymore, but I do still prioritize schools that have actually adult, adult classes in deciding which schools to visit first when looking for a new place to train.
I've had this happen in both TKD schools and my BJJ school that there is no separation between teens and adults, but it's a "teen and adult class". In all of those, fitness has been a goal, but not as a replacement for learning martial arts.
 

GojuTommy

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I think this entirely depends on the content of the class. For example, in a beginner's class there is no difference in rank requirements for a yellow belt regardless of age and the techniques aren't so complicated that a kid can't understand them. If you are just doing floor drills and basic pad work the instruction for a 13 year old is the same as it would be for a 35 year old and in my experience the 13 year olds tend to catch on quicker and do better than those in their 30s and up. Additionally, a lot of people want to train as a family so having less intense and less fight focused classes that are safe for all ages opens up a whole new avenue for potential students that would otherwise never consider training in a martial art.

If it's a sparring/grappling class, then that's another story and classes should be separated by age because of size.
I would recommend doing some reading on stages of development in teens though, there is virtually no difference in cognitive ability of a 16 year old and say a 21 year old, so saying 18+ for any reason other than legal is purely arbitrary. Neuroscientist Dr. Sandra Aamodt has done some good work in this field as well as Neurologist Dr. Francis Jensen.
What is required for advancement has no bearing on this discussion as that will vary between organizations and schools/gyms.

Its about appropriate teaching techniques and understanding the way you should teach a 12 year old is not the same as a 16 yr old which is not the same as a 20 yr old, which is not the same as a 30 yr old.
This means mixing ages with large age gaps someone or everyone is getting the short end of the stick and not being interacted with and taught appropriately.
 

GojuTommy

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As a student, rather than an MA instructor, this is a tricky question for me. As a general rule, my experience has taught me that if the "adults" class starts at age 13+ there's a good chance that the school doesn't attract, nor cater to, adult students who want to really learn a martial art and there's a good chance that the (probably few) actual adults in the class have their reasons for training divided something like: 50% of their motivation is bonding with their kids, 45% getting fit someplace they have to be to pick up their kids anyway, and 5% a desire to learn the MA (mostly because it's more fun than a treadmill).

That's great, I think it's wonderful if parents want to do something like karate or BJJ to bond with their kids and I think fitness is important for everyone, so if they've found a way to do both at one time that they enjoy, more power to them. Since I'm in my 50's and don't have kids and am a MA geek who prioritizes learning the MA as 70+% of my reason for training, I often find that these kinds of schools are a poor fit for me.

Now, I've heard @Buka describe his school before and talk about how I'm missing out on good schools if I dismiss every MA studio that is structured like this, and he's right. The way he describes his school, if I could train with him in that environment, I'd definitely give it a try. Before I started with my current MA I checked out a karate school nearby that had a mix of 16+ years olds and adults in their adult class that seemed pretty good. So, thanks to Buka, I don't reject this sort of place by default anymore, but I do still prioritize schools that have actually adult, adult classes in deciding which schools to visit first when looking for a new place to train.
Exactly, most schools that have obvious children in the adult classes probably arent attracting many if any adults who want to actually train.
If they were attracting lots of adults they wouldnt need to pad their adult classes with children.

I made a whole topic that went on for many pages on my opinions of mixing small kids with teens and teens with adults.
 

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MetalBoar, one of the things I did was - every four months or so, all the kids from the kids class trained with the adult class. What the students of the adult class did was help all the kids. And taught them to help other new kids.

Worked like a charm.
And what if an adult doesnt want to teach children since theyre paying you to teach them?
 

Buka

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And what if an adult doesnt want to teach children since theyre paying you to teach them?
Not everyone can teach, regardless of how talented they are. But they can help IF they wanted to. Everyone helped, every single one of them over forty years.

But it went two ways. Once you made it to green belt, if you wanted a private lesson you got it. For free. I'd teach the private lesson. And why not, I was working out for a living, that's what I did so I was going to be there anyway. When you've been at it for a while - a private lesson just reinforces the principles to the teacher just as much as it does to the student.

On two occasions that I can remember, a couple of students wanted privates. So I told them to come down on Saturday at noon, at the end of the Saturday morning class. They came. They were taught a private by myself and two well known world champions that had stopped in for something else. One of them didn't even know who they were until years later. (they damn near fainted when they found out) But they had one hell of a private.

As for them paying me to teach them.....you trained and were taught regardless if you paid or not. Not once in my career did I ever refuse anyone who wanted to train because they couldn't afford it. Not once. Still won't.
 

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18 because no one below 18 is remotely an adult.
Tbh though my gf and I refer to 18-24 as independent children

i dont believe theres ever any excuse to have obvious children in classes with adults. Even if theyre adult sized their brains and the way they absorb and understand things isnt the same, and I just find it irresponsible and inappropriate to have such large gaps in age.

Can I be convinced to let a 17 yr old in? Maybe. Can I be convinced to let a 15 or 16 yr old in? Hell no.
It really depends how classes are run. In many cases adult refers to the classes not for small kids (rather than actual adulthood). If classes are relatively small and theres lots of individual attention, mixing in teens may not be an issue.

For me, it was never an issue, because I never ended up having any teens. But my classes were small enough it would have been feasible to mix age groups, so long as they could work on similar material.
 
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