Is Taekwondo Right for Your Child?

Which fall pastime is the right for your child?

Photography by Kristina Zuidema via Flickr (cc)

Photography by Kristina Zuidema via Flickr (CC)

While your child may enjoy wrestling and being physical, this Korean-based martial art is about discipline, respect and mind-body awareness. Children can start as early as age six in 30- to 45-minute classes—however they’ll be more focused at age seven to eight and are able to memorize patterns and movements.

“A beginner program might offer a variety of exercises that won’t necessarily look like what you’d assume a taekwondo class to look like,” says Dominique Bosshart, a bronze-medal-winning taekwondo Olympian and program coordinator with Taekwondo Canada in Ottawa. That class can also range by age and ability since programs differ widely. Some clubs offer a beginner all-white-belt class. Others might group kids by age or belt level (depending on how large their program is)—something like “Little Tigers” for kids ages six to nine years old.

Bosshart does recommend considering the club’s teaching background. While traditionally taekwondo instructors and coaches have earned their teaching credentials by learning from their own practice for the black belt level and beyond, Bosshart says Taekwondo Canada is encouraging instructors to attain additional certification.

Taekwondo students move up on a belt system—six colours ranging from white to black. At the school where Krista Devoe sends her eight-year-old son, there is a commitment requirement first. “Students must attend classes for some time, from several weeks to months, before they are considered for belt testing. And the instructors decide when students are ready to test,” says the Sydney, N.S., mom. Her son was invited to test after three months—but progressing involved more than taekwondo skills. “Before testing, he had to draw a picture representing what taekwondo means to him and he needed signatures from his teacher and me stating that he’d been acting in a respectful manner at home and at school,” Devoe says.

Fees range between $50 and $120 monthly. “But look within that variation,” advises Bosshart. “Many places offer unlimited classes to attend and you can go all week long for a certain price, while others offer classes on specific days of the week at a different monthly price.” Belt tests can cost extra and students can also enrol themselves, starting at yellow belt, in weekly optional competitions. Costs for this vary.

Does My Kid Have It?
Enthusiasm counts as much as anything. Your little martial artist may progress quickly to reach a belt test, but you’ll know she’s hooked when she asks to attend more than one class a week.

To learn more, please visit Taekwondo Canada.

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