Children are fascinated by the martial arts. They love to imagine themselves leaping, kicking, punching and screaming, defeating all their enemies, like the characters they see in movies and on tv.
Real-life training can harness that fascination to bring real-life benefits—like exercise, discipline, coordination, and assertiveness. Kids who stick with it will learn to focus their minds and bodies, persevere through hard work, respect themselves and others, and enjoy the satisfaction of personal achievement—all this while growing fit, strong and healthy. They’ll also learn the importance of self-control and non-violence, gain skills for self-defense, and earn the confidence to walk away from fights.
These benefits seem almost too good to be true, yet they are very much part of traditional martial arts training. Any child can gain them, provided they stay at it for more than just a few months. It takes patience, commitment, and parental support—and it’s well worth it!
Cuong Nhu Redwood Dojo has offered martial arts training to kids since 1992. Classes are taught by chief instructor Lara Tribe-Jones and founder Didi Goodman. “Sensei Lara” began training at Redwood Dojo more than 20 years ago when she was eight years old. She is now a second degree black belt and shares her life-long passion for martial arts and for teaching with students of all ages. A former Oakland Middle School math teacher, she holds a Masters’ in Education and a California Teaching Credential. “Sensei Didi” has been practicing martial arts for more than forty years, and teaching kids for more than thirty. She is the author of The Kids’ Karate Workbook: A Take-Home Training Guide for Young Martial Artists, from North Atlantic/Blue Snake Books.
The Pre-Karate program is for children ages 4 1/2 and 5 years old. In this “PeeWee” program kids meet once a week (Mondays at 4 pm) and have fun practicing basic, age-appropriate martial arts skills, while learning how to listen, follow instructions, try hard, and work together.
The Pre-Karate program is built around ten key skills. Each class includes discussions about the “word of the day” as well as martial arts skills practice. The ten Peewee skills are:
Children in the beginning kids program have the opportunity to earn belt ranks (stripes on their belts and colored belts) within the Cuong Nhu children’s ranking system. To earn a stripe or colored belt, a student must have excellent attendance, show good behavior and effort, and be able to demonstrate certain techniques and forms practiced in class. The Beginning kids group is divided by age, with both groups working together for one of their two weekly classes. Children ages 6 and 7 meet Mondays at 5 pm and Thursdays at 4 pm. Children ages 8 and up meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 pm. Children who are 11 or older may join the Teen Class, with instructor permission.
Children who have progressed to the rank of purple belt may move into the intermediate/advanced kids class. This class meets twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday at 5 pm. Students may also attend Saturday morning class (outside, all ages 6 and up). Older students may move into the Teen Class (with instructor permission).