Taekwondo for Children

March 12, 2012

How Does Taekwondo Help?
Children take up Taekwodo 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.
Taekwondo 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. The children love to punch and kick pads so we often use small punching/kicking pads for fast padwork 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 – 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 available through us. Children are usually ready to start sparring after the first three months training.

What Age Can My Child Start?
We take children in our kids classes from the age of five. 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.

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 or promotion tests. These are available every four months, a month more than juniors and seniors. On passing the grading the child 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.
It is our 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!

The Instructors
Our instructors now have a good number of years dealing with children and their experience is truly reflected in the good number of children attending each session. Our instructors are both Black Belt qualified by Kukkiwon. 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!
Please see our Instructors page for more information.

Can Children Enter Competitions?
Yes, all of the MTF national competitions are open to both adults and children. There are also international competitions available. We 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 7 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. Our students often bring home medals and trophies from both local and national tournaments. Read our “news” for more information and visit the “gallery”.

Are There Other Events?
Each year we are generally asked to put on at least one if not two demonstrations. Sometimes these will be at local schools, or they may be for a large summer fair. We like to include a display of Children’s TaeKwondo wherever possible (especially if the demo is at a school!)

Through out the year we do organise a good number of social activities that are open to all, like the Gozo Training Camp and the Splash ‘n’ Fun activity. We also put on a Kids TaeKwon-Do Christmas Party – this often doesn’t have a lot to do with TaeKwondo, but a lot to do with eating rubbish food and having a lot of fun!! (Just the sort of thing you’re supposed to do at Christmas!)

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, we recommend you visit the BBC’s website where they have an excellent section on children’s nutrition.