Your kids first dojo should be at home

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Jared Traveler

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I am often asked by parents where they should enroll their kids in martial arts. Typically this is for the purpose of self-protection. My answer has typically become, this:
First start a home gym or dojo. Get a cardboard box or plastic tub, buy a couple boxing gloves and designate a space for training.

Of course most people asking me aren't trained martial artists, and aren't capable of teaching a quality class. But I think that is fine initially for kids. Because what I think is important is that they under that martial arts for the purpose of self-defense is not like any other hobby. If you want your kid to value self-defense, you need to communicate that it is a family value. It should start in the home.

I'm not saying you have to be responsible for seriously developing them technically. Even something as simple as pushing a bully back, or even just teaching them that they can get hit and keep fighting is valuable.

Yes, do eventually enroll them in a quality program, but I think it should start in the home.

Your thoughts?
 

skribs

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I completely disagree. Someone who thinks they know the basics of Kung Fu because they've seen a few Bruce Lee movies should not be teaching the basics. Someone who knows they don't know how to fight because they haven't trained martial arts also shouldn't be teaching the basics. You're going to get bad advice from the first group, and you're not going to get confident advice from the second.

Any martial arts school worth their salt should be teaching the things you're talking about. But there are many other benefits, specifically for kids:
  • Learn how to follow the directions of adults who aren't their parents (which is important when they start school, or important during school)
  • Learn how to get along with other kids their age and make friends
  • See how other kids behave in class, and what kind of behavior is rewarded or punished
  • Learn quality instruction from someone who knows what they're doing
  • Learn from lessons the other students in class learn
  • Learn how to deal with bullies by sparring against people their age, instead of just theoretically from someone five times their size who is also their parent
  • They can have role models such as instructors or higher-ranking students
  • Often the games are fun
  • You're more engaged in the lesson when you have friends in class than when it's just something you're doing on your own
When I was an instructor, I had a nephew that didn't want to do martial arts. He didn't want to do it at home. He didn't want to go to class to learn. It wasn't until he was forced to go to class by my sister (because she was tired of his attitude) that he finally started learning. Even as an instructor, I wanted him to go to class instead of learning from me at home. If that's my expectation of myself, that's certainly my expectation of untrained parents.
 
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Jared Traveler

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I completely disagree. Someone who thinks they know the basics of Kung Fu because they've seen a few Bruce Lee movies should not be teaching the basics. Someone who knows they don't know how to fight because they haven't trained martial arts also shouldn't be teaching the basics. You're going to get bad advice from the first group, and you're not going to get confident advice from the second.

Any martial arts school worth their salt should be teaching the things you're talking about. But there are many other benefits, specifically for kids:
  • Learn how to follow the directions of adults who aren't their parents (which is important when they start school, or important during school)
  • Learn how to get along with other kids their age and make friends
  • See how other kids behave in class, and what kind of behavior is rewarded or punished
  • Learn quality instruction from someone who knows what they're doing
  • Learn from lessons the other students in class learn
  • Learn how to deal with bullies by sparring against people their age, instead of just theoretically from someone five times their size who is also their parent
  • They can have role models such as instructors or higher-ranking students
  • Often the games are fun
  • You're more engaged in the lesson when you have friends in class than when it's just something you're doing on your own
When I was an instructor, I had a nephew that didn't want to do martial arts. He didn't want to do it at home. He didn't want to go to class to learn. It wasn't until he was forced to go to class by my sister (because she was tired of his attitude) that he finally started learning. Even as an instructor, I wanted him to go to class instead of learning from me at home. If that's my expectation of myself, that's certainly my expectation of untrained parents.
I agree you are unlikely to give quality skills training without being trained yourself. I just see value in it, value that exceeds technical instruction. Skill at striking and grappling is only one component of the martial arts.

We live in a society where everything is delegated to "professionals." But kids need skin to skin contact with their parents. Sometimes who teaches you something is more valuable than what you learn, especially early on in a kids life. Most kids can defeat bullies with poor training, it isn't going to be a highly technical cage match. And if a kid looses a fight, that's okay to.

They need father's to shape their children. It isn't all about skill. That can come with time, even if a few things have to be unlearned. It's more about roughhousing, learning what the family culture is regarding violence.

I think parents should be realistic about the quality of training their kid is getting at home, but also understand they a contributing greatly to their kids development by investing in them.
 

skribs

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I agree you are unlikely to give quality skills training without being trained yourself. I just see value in it, value that exceeds technical instruction. Skill at striking and grappling is only one component of the martial arts.

We live in a society where everything is delegated to "professionals." But kids need skin to skin contact with their parents. Sometimes who teaches you something is more valuable than what you learn, especially early on in a kids life. Most kids can defeat bullies with poor training, it isn't going to be a highly technical cage match. And if a kid looses a fight, that's okay to.

They need father's to shape their children. It isn't all about skill. That can come with time, even if a few things have to be unlearned. It's more about roughhousing, learning what the family culture is regarding violence.

I think parents should be realistic about the quality of training their kid is getting at home, but also understand they a contributing greatly to their kids development by investing in them.
Did...did you even read my post? You quoted it, so I'm assuming you read it. But very, very little of my post was about the quality of the technical instruction. It was about making friends and learning how to operate in a class environment. Since you didn't talk about that at all, I'm very confused. Since, as I said, you quoted it.

Parents are often the worst teachers, not just because of technical ability. They often put too much pressure on this or that instead of just making it something fun. Or, they make it something fun, and to the kid it's just a game and not a lesson. There's a lot more to teaching martial arts than just how to punch and kick. You have to know how to keep students engaged and coming back.

Yes, parents should play games with their kids. But it should be something the parent is interested in. If the parent trains martial arts, it's a good game to play if their kids like it. If the parent isn't trained (which it sounds like in your situation), then they should play games that match their interest. Or go to a martial arts school and watch class, and then help practice at home. Or take class with the kid.

This idea makes sense to you because you do martial arts. But even then, it doesn't make sense, because most martial artists want their kids to have that experience. It makes even less sense to someone who doesn't do martial arts.
 
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Jared Traveler

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Did...did you even read my post? You quoted it, so I'm assuming you read it. But very, very little of my post was about the quality of the technical instruction. It was about making friends and learning how to operate in a class environment. Since you didn't talk about that at all, I'm very confused. Since, as I said, you quoted it.

Parents are often the worst teachers, not just because of technical ability. They often put too much pressure on this or that instead of just making it something fun. Or, they make it something fun, and to the kid it's just a game and not a lesson. There's a lot more to teaching martial arts than just how to punch and kick. You have to know how to keep students engaged and coming back.

Yes, parents should play games with their kids. But it should be something the parent is interested in. If the parent trains martial arts, it's a good game to play if their kids like it. If the parent isn't trained (which it sounds like in your situation), then they should play games that match their interest. Or go to a martial arts school and watch class, and then help practice at home. Or take class with the kid.

This idea makes sense to you because you do martial arts. But even then, it doesn't make sense, because most martial artists want their kids to have that experience. It makes even less sense to someone who doesn't do martial arts.
Yes. I read your post. You spoke of both the technical advantages and social aspects to training in a dojo. That is why I addressed both of those aspects in my follow-up post.
 
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Jared Traveler

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To be clear skribs, I am in no way against someone putting their kids in a martial arts program. In fact I am for it. But I believe it should start in the home, and then they should ideally go together.
 

skribs

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Then let me be clear. It should start in class. The advice that it should start from home is probably the worst advice you could possibly give someone, for just about every reason I can think of. If I were to make a pros and cons list of starting the martial arts training at home, there is nothing that goes in the pro column.

Parents can and should play with their kids. But if you don't know martial arts, you shouldn't be teaching it. If you know martial arts, then that's where your kids will learn it.
 

skribs

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The vast majority of my students were brought in for us to teach, instead of to pick up where their parents left off. This was a good thing. There are maybe a few parents who are the exception to this rule. However, if someone is asking for such basic advice as how to find a martial arts school, they are not the exception to the rule, and they shouldn't be advised as if they were.
 
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Jared Traveler

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Parents of
Then let me be clear. It should start in class. The advice that it should start from home is probably the worst advice you could possibly give someone, for just about every reason I can think of. If I were to make a pros and cons list of starting the martial arts training at home, there is nothing that goes in the pro column.

Parents can and should play with their kids. But if you don't know martial arts, you shouldn't be teaching it. If you know martial arts, then that's where your kids will learn it.
Father's teaching kids to protect themselves has worked since the beginning of human existence. Your original post of the subject reads like a TKD commercial. Which is fine, but it is not a system that has been around as long as families teach their kids about important topics.

I think if it's the worst advice, it had been a mistake made by most families in the span of human history. Only not so much in modern times. Rather it has been a blind spot, like so many other things in family culture.

A lot of the bullet points you listed are things kids should know and not have to learn at a dojo. I think if you are sending your kids to a dojo to learn how to follow directions, or to learn how to behave, you have failed them as a parent at home on other important topics also.
 
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isshinryuronin

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You guys are both right in some respects. The moral foundations of TMA can be started in the home. Respect, standing up for what is right and helping others do the same, without violence (if possible), as well as self-discipline, hard work, completing a task and so many other things. Parents can be supportive, building self-esteem and confidence when deserved.

Some basic physical foundations can be laid as well. Light roughhousing, accepting and working thru a little physical discomfort, physical fitness and taking care of their bodies and so forth. These are all good habits in thought and body that contributes to the next step.

The technical aspects are things that are best left to the dojo or qualified instructor to avoid bad habits being formed in regard to proper execution and physical principles of MA. A good instructor will also know how to introduce resistance training, provide safe but challenging boundaries as the child progresses, and develop a martial mindset while limiting undue aggression. No need to rush getting to this phase of training. If the home can provide the things listed in the first two paragraphs, parents will have a kid on his way to success and one they can be proud of.

Of course, few homes prepare their children for success in the real world anymore. Ideal situations are rare. It is left to luck that a good mentor comes their way. I think some parents bring their kids to MA classes realizing they cannot provide, for whatever reason, all the training a young person should have, even if on a subconscious level.
 

Jimmythebull

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I am often asked by parents where they should enroll their kids in martial arts. Typically this is for the purpose of self-protection. My answer has typically become, this:
First start a home gym or dojo. Get a cardboard box or plastic tub, buy a couple boxing gloves and designate a space for training.

Of course most people asking me aren't trained martial artists, and aren't capable of teaching a quality class. But I think that is fine initially for kids. Because what I think is important is that they under that martial arts for the purpose of self-defense is not like any other hobby. If you want your kid to value self-defense, you need to communicate that it is a family value. It should start in the home.

I'm not saying you have to be responsible for seriously developing them technically. Even something as simple as pushing a bully back, or even just teaching them that they can get hit and keep fighting is valuable.

Yes, do eventually enroll them in a quality program, but I think it should start in the home.

Your thoughts?
It was normal for fathers to teach their son(s) boxing when I grew up. My father Was in a boxing Club as a youngster and so as kids we learned how to spar. I'm not saying that all kids would enjoy it but it was like this in the 70s.
 

Jimmythebull

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Then let me be clear. It should start in class. The advice that it should start from home is probably the worst advice you could possibly give someone, for just about every reason I can think of. If I were to make a pros and cons list of starting the martial arts training at home, there is nothing that goes in the pro column.

Parents can and should play with their kids. But if you don't know martial arts, you shouldn't be teaching it. If you know martial arts, then that's where your kids will learn it.
Yet you're a grown man who plays video "fight " games 不
 

skribs

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Your original post of the subject reads like a TKD commercial. Which is fine, but it is not a system that has been around as long as families teach their kids about important topics.
And how would you expect me list the pros of learning in class in a way that isn't "like a TKD commercial"?

You don't want thoughts. You want validation. I'm not going to give that to you, because what you're suggesting is just plain bad advice.
 

Jimmythebull

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And how would you expect me list the pros of learning in class in a way that isn't "like a TKD commercial"?

You don't want thoughts. You want validation. I'm not going to give that to you, because what you're suggesting is just plain bad advice.
serious question, were you an orphan?
I think if you are sending your kids to a dojo to learn how to follow directions, or to learn how to behave, you have failed them as a parent at home on other important topics also.
totally correct..i learned a lot of skills from my father from wiring a plug to growing food in our Garden/ Greenhouse.
not just boxing.
 

Steve

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If a parent (not just a father) wants to fart around by boxing with their kid, I dont see a problem. But you seem to be, first, stuck in some idyllic, 1950s, leave it to beaver fantasy where dad pulls the pipe out of his mouth, puts his paper down and says, okay son. Im gonna teach you to fight like a man. Now put up your dukes.

Im all for imaginative play with your kids and if this resonates with you and your kids, great. There are all kinds of other ways to connect with kids. This is just one.

And there are better ways to teach kids life skills. Participation in any sport or club is a great start.

And if martial skill is your goal, not much beats wrestling which is available in many areas through the school or intramural as early as 3rd or 4th grade.
 

Jimmythebull

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If a parent (not just a father) wants to fart around by boxing with their kid, I dont see a problem. But you seem to be, first, stuck in some idyllic, 1950s, leave it to beaver fantasy where dad pulls the pipe out of his mouth, puts his paper down and says, okay son. Im gonna teach you to fight like a man. Now put up your dukes.

Im all for imaginative play with your kids and if this resonates with you and your kids, great. There are all kinds of other ways to connect with kids. This is just one.

And there are better ways to teach kids life skills. Participation in any sport or club is a great start.

And if martial skill is your goal, not much beats wrestling which is available in many areas through the school or intramural as early as 3rd or 4th grade.
not everyone has a martial arts club in their area. a set of York weights, bench, boxing bag. simple as that.
 
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Jared Traveler

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And how would you expect me list the pros of learning in class in a way that isn't "like a TKD commercial"?

You don't want thoughts. You want validation. I'm not going to give that to you, because what you're suggesting is just plain bad advice.
If I wanted validation, I would post on non controversial topics. Such as how great a rear naked choke is, or something almost everyone agrees on. I'm intentionally posting on something that someone might have a different option on.

I think differences of options are okay. It doesn't mean I'm going to agree with you though.
 
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But you seem to be, first, stuck in some idyllic, 1950s, leave it to beaver fantasy where dad pulls the pipe out of his mouth, puts his paper down and says, okay son. Im gonna teach you to fight like a man. Now put up your dukes.
You keep using this 1950s reference as if it's an insult. But I will accept it as a compliment. Many people from this era have invested greatly in me. Also in many parts of the world the culture is like the 1950s, not everyone exists in a woke world. And many people want to raise children counter to what is popular in culture. You can set your own values and are not doomed to the current cultural norms.
 

Jimmythebull

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You keep using this 1950s reference as if it's an insult. But I will accept it as a compliment. Many people from this era have invested greatly in me. Also in many parts of the world the culture is like the 1950s, not everyone exists in a woke world. And many people want to raise children counter to what is popular in culture. You can set your own values and are not doomed to the current cultural norms.
giphy (11).gif
 

Gerry Seymour

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Father's teaching kids to protect themselves has worked since the beginning of human existence.
Reliably? By what measure?

See, I seem to recall a lot of kids who couldn't defend themselves while I was growing up. They got bullied a lot. I stepped in and ended fights for these kids, because they couldn't. I wasn't taught that by my dad (though he did teach me the ethos for it).
 
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