The practice of a martial art has so many benefits, but along with that territory come some surprises that you should be prepared for. Knowing about both sides before you sign a contract can help you plan and ask questions of potential instructors.
About the Discipline Thing
Many parents enrol their children in a martial art in order to help them develop “discipline”, and it does help them learn respect and self-control, to a degree. What many parents do not realise, however, is that martial arts is not a babysittting service or a solution for behavioural issues, whatever they might stem from. Not every instructor is going to allow a disruptive student to continue in his or her class, so if you have a child who needs more freedom than is common in classes for karate, tae kwon do, and kung fu, you should observe classes at multiple schools to see whether the environment is a good fit.
That said, many parents see changes in their children that seem nearly miraculous. It helps that they come home incredibly tired from all their hard physical work.
Uniforms, belts, equipment
Most schools will offer you a free uniform when you enrol, but as with any other sport, uniforms will cost you after that and they always seem more expensive than they should be. Just as with school clothes and shoes, you might end up buying at least the pants more often than you expect. The good news is that, with many arts, you don’t need shoes! Keeping the uniform white will also be a challenge with kids, but it’s all part of learning discipline, right?
With all of the arts, you’ll have martial arts equipment to consider. You can likely use some from the school, but head and mouth protection cannot be shared and pads and gloves shouldn’t be, either. These won’t be needed right away, but you should expect to spend some pounds on these items at some point.
Many parents get a bit of sticker shock after a few months when the common introductory offer price has run its course. Even if you know that the monthly fee is going to go up and plan for it, there are costs for the test fees and new belts – and these will run into the hundreds of pounds. If this is a concern or an expense you need to plan for, find out from the instructor what the testing schedule and expectations are and how much each one will cost.
When you go into a martial arts practice with these bits of information, you’ll be free to enjoy seeing your children participate in a great experience and you’ll be surprised and impressed at what they can do.