Saturday, November 04, 2006

Great for Children

"Oh, do your children do tae kwon do, too?"

This is a comment I regularly hear from people when I tell them I'm learning TKD.

Somehow, TKD in the US is often seen as a children's activity. Kind of something that parents sign up their kids for when they're not doing soccer, swimming lessons, and scouting. Not that there's anything bad about kids doing TKD. It can be wonderful exercise, it teaches discipline and perseverence (self control, indomitable spirit, etc. etc.) I wish my boys still did it!

Still, it's a serious martial art. Adults can learn it at a different--higher--level than children can. And I would see it as a life-long pursuit, not just something to try out when a child and then drop when one gets bored.

Master Hughes said that many people warned him about having too many classes for children (he has classes even for 4-5 year olds--he was the first in the country to offer them to children that young). "You'll just be babysitting," they said. But he thought that having classes for younger ones would bring in the older students--older children, teens, and adults, the people who'd really stick with it.

In general, martial arts at our school isn't child's play. We have classes for children (where working on forms and sparring is broken up by games of tag or noodle hockey). And children can test for a junior black belt, which is not as difficult as a regular black belt. But in general, it's serious stuff. Come to an All-Belts class, and even if you're a kid, expect to work until you're drenched with sweat.

We know TKD isn't kid stuff. But outsiders still have this misperception.

I wonder if this is a misperception that people have about other martial arts. Do people consider karate a children's activity? Or Judo?

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