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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Parental concern – Does karate teach violence?

A parent of the potential student brought up an interesting concern today that I would like to publicly address because I believe that it’s an important concern.

She was talking to the director of her daughter’s school and the director was adamantly against ANY child taking karate. In fact, she wrote a letter to all of the members of the school stating that karate teaches kids violence and they should keep them out of any karate program

As a Martial Arts instructor, I too have deep concerns about students using karate for the wrong reasons. Truthfully, if I felt that I was teaching children violence, I would not be teaching the Martial Arts at all.

In the movie, Spiderman, Peter Parker’s uncle told him that “With awesome power comes great responsibility.” Karate teaches kid’s responsibility and many, many more life benefits. I current have over 200 testimonials from parents that state how karate helped their child’s focus, build their confidence, assisted them in achieving better grades, acquired better discipline, etc. These testimonials are overwhelming examples about how children all over the country are gaining huge benefits from the Martial Arts.

For people who have a limited exposure to the Martial Arts, it sometimes conjures the images of the Cobra Kan instructor from the Karate Kid – teaching the next generation of bullies. The fact of the matter is that these types of instructors would be unable to run a professional martial arts school to maintain students, therefore, quickly going out of business.

Also, this director stated that she has seen children using karate on the playground. In my experience, children that use kicking and punching on the playground are not in a formal karate program. Mostly, these kids pick up these habits from violence they see on TV and video games.

In karate, we balance the kicks and punches with a heavy dose of peace education so that our students know when it’s not appropriate to use karate. We also teach them verbal self-defense skills and de-escalation strategies to handle real situations with other children without fighting.

One last thing is that I am personally trained in anger management. This type of training is becoming more common among excellent Martial Arts instructors so that we have the skills to help children with emotional control issues which is another terrific benefit of karate.

I am thankful that this parent expressed these concerns so that I could publicly write my opinion on the subject.

Sensei Tim Rosanelli
Maximum Impact Karate
(215) 249-3532

Sensei Talks: Tim Rosanelli

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BM said...

Hello Tim,

I have a question regarding the right age to enroll young children for martial arts classes.

My son who is 3YO seems to have taken a fascination with martial arts, he must have gotten this from watching TV. He is a very active child, with lot of energy to burn.At the same time he is also sensible enough to "play karate" with just me. He does not try to play this game with his mom, grandparents etc.

I intend to send him for martial arts classes, but right now I think he is too young. What do you think based on your experience is the right age to begin martial arts training?

Tim Rosanelli said...

Hi BM,

That's great that your son is fascinated with karate because you can use that interest to get him into a great karate program ~like our :)~ and start giving him all the life skills that our truly important for any child's future.

As for the age...
We do accept 3yr olds into our little ninja program. You should expect that any good martial arts school will provide an evaluation of the child's needs and with the parent set goals for your child.

These goals are largely depend on the child and age. For example, a goal for a 3 yr old would be something simple like following instructions or learning to line up.

The great thing about karate is that it provides life coaching based on the age and needs of the child. So as the child grows, the goals will change over time.

About every year, we sit down with the parents to re-evaluate the student goals for the next year.

Sensei Tim

BM said...

Thank you Sensei for your insights. I would have definitely considered sending my son your school had we not not be living a bit too far away from your school(downingtown).

Based on my conversations with a co-worker (your student), I am inclined to look for an Independent martial arts school instead of a franchise based school.