Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Enrolling My Son in Martial Arts

Henry just turned five, and up until this point, he hasn't really been enrolled in any extracurricular activities (aside from a safety swimming class when he was a toddler). I definitely subscribe to the ideas explained within Simplicity Parenting around giving children wide-open time to play outside, create, explore, get bored, and decompress. I haven't felt like the benefits of extracurricular activities outweigh the drawbacks at this point. We are already a stressed out family with two full-time jobs and full-time school for the boys. 

However, at our recent conference with Henry's teacher, she mentioned that she thinks he would benefit from a formalized activity that helps him channel his physical energy. She mentioned martial arts in particular. 

A friend of mine mentioned Aikido, and it looks like we have a good program here in Austin. There's a 30-minute class once a week, specifically designed for 5-7 year-olds. After doing some preliminary research, it seems like Aikido is pretty amazing because it's more defensive than offensive. It doesn't involve punches or kicks (more just pinning and twisting). 

Do any of you have experience with or recommendations related to various martial arts? I am totally new to this.

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Amy said...

Have you considered asking Henry about which extracurricular activity he might like to try?

Mary Blakley said...

It's interesting that you mention Simplicity Parenting, as Kim John Payne is not in favour of young children learning martial arts. Many martial arts are adult activities that have been transformed into something for children, yet the mental and spiritual aspect isn't appropriate for the age group. My husband studies martial arts, and we've had a few debates on this: when is the right age to start?

My daughter is a little younger that Henry, and we've kept activities to a minimum (while at the same time recognizing that church and weekly swim nights are activities for her, even if they don't require registration). She's done recreational dance classes from time to time, and requested to take one again this spring, so we're following her lead. I'm not sure how extracurricular activities will shape our lives as she gets older. I put a high priority on learning to swim, skate, and ride a bike, and music is incredibly important to me, but at the same time I believe in following her passions, not mine.

mamaschlick said...

Just my opinion, but "channeling Henry's extra energy" sounds funny to me (for the teacher to say). If he has extra energy, probably best thing is being outside doing activities he wants, like running, jumping, climbing, no? Martial arts seem anything but free and are often rigid and highly structured exercises requiring much waiting while each person gets his turn. Not exactly a great way to expend a kid's extra energy. Sounds like a teacher's way of saying he should do something "useful" or "respectful" with his time (energy). Anyway, not a criticism of you, but something to think about. How about a free form dance class for boys? I seem to remember henry loving to dance? Good luck!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hello, mamaschlick!

I'm trying to respect Henry's privacy, so I'm not sharing all the details here. Basically, I agree with his teacher about what skills he needs to cultivate, so we tried Aikido just to see if Henry liked it. He LOVES it! It's only 30 minutes a week, so it's not stressful for our family. He talks about it during the week and asks if he can go back. It helps him learn how to listen, follow directions, and control and perfect his gross- and fine-motor skills. We'll keep with it as long as it keeps working for Henry and our family.

mamaschlick said...

Well then, that is awesome! So glad it worked out! Hooray!

Tahlia Ewing said...

Judo is also a good choice! It's a sport art, not an offensive one. It would pair well with Aikido when he gets a little older, too!

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