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TKD/Karate input needed, please


itsheresomewhere
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This is also a vent.  

 

For those of you who are involved in this sport-

 

How does your place handle age differences in class?

 

Are teens in class with 5/6 year olds?

 

How is belt testing handled and avg time between belts?

 

If you moved to another school, how was it handled? DId you keep the same belt level or start over especially if your school used a different belt schedule?

 

 

My kids are involved in TKD for a year.  The way the school handles things is kind of bothering me.  I would like to know how other places handle these.  We may be looking at other schools as it is really becoming an issue with size difference ( 5/6 year old with teens) and other things. The one really good thing about this school is that they are really good with autism, anxiety and stuff.  Both of my kids are really blossomed under one instructor. But several times now, class has ended early or our instructor is spending a large amount of time discipling others.   The instructor is really trying but the owner is our issue.  Both kids should have been tested up another belt but it keeps getting put off (not by us).

 

So if you have any suggestions on what we should look for in a school, please either post here or PM me.  

 

Thanks.

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Our TKD school had everybody in the same class for a long time, until there were so many people that the instructor held two separate sessions for the younger kids and the more advanced teens/adults.

While they were all together, for sparring they were obviously paired with people of similar size and experience.

 

Belt testing is about once a year.

 

The instructor does not have to spend time disciplining kids; the kids highly respect him and obey. I have observed a few belt tests and was impressed how one glance from the instructor gets them to sit quietly etc.

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Our TKD school had everybody in the same class for a long time, until there were so many people that the instructor held two separate sessions for the younger kids and the more advanced teens/adults.

While they were all together, for sparring they were obviously paired with people of similar size and experience.

 

 

That is one of our biggest problems.  My kids are the oldest in the class so they are often paired with 5/6 yr olds or kids who are not close in size.  Really an issue for my teen DS.  Lately, he has to get on his knees to work with whoever he is paired with.

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We have family classes which is small children on up to adults (designed so families can come and train all together).  Then there are regular classes divided into beginners and advanced and are typically up to age 12, but older people can choose to go to those classes if they want.  Then there are adult classes which are 13+.  So basically, teens can be in classes with young kids if they want, but they don't have to.

 

We have belt testing every two months (six times a year).  You have to be ready to test so sometimes the instructor says you'll need to wait until next time.  You can choose to not test if you don't personally feel ready.  Unless the instructor says you are not ready you always have the option to choose to test at belt testings.  Average time between belt colors is 4 months, but sometimes shorter, sometimes longer.  For example, my older two accelerated and went about 2 months between colors.  On the other hand, my youngest is on the slow path to black belt and has gone as long as 14 months between colors.

 

People who move between schools in the same chain of course retain their current rank and it transfers easily.  People who come to our school who were training in another ATA school or even another martial arts discipline are evaluated to see what their level is and they start at that belt.  It's usually a comparable number of belts since white within one or two.

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Most schools I've seen have the option for a family class (all ages) or age-based classes. Most instructors are flexible about age, so if you have lots of kids who overlap in age you can send them all to one class. I've never seen any problem with big kids being hard on little kids. The greater issue is big kids not being able to train hard with little kids. The larger kids should be explicitly taught to go easy on little kids. I actually prefer the mixed level classes because I think it's good for the little kids to have people to look up to and for the larger kids to practice teaching and being gentle. I've had little 2yr olds and now an almost 16yr old in classes, so we've been in most age groups. If your instructor is putting big kids he doesn't know well with little kids without watching closely, that's a problem. 

 

When we switch schools, the belt standing depends on the instructor. Some places will let you wear your same belt until you've mastered all of their prior belts and are ready to move on. That could take a long time because some schools are very different. If you're coming from a different martial art, you should expect to start over completely. Some places will watch you and put you in the belt they think is appropriate- you could go up or down, especially if they do different belt colors. 

 

You test for the belt when the instructor tells you to. There's no asking. Usually there's a test about every 6-8 weeks but not everyone will test each time. My DS spent forever as one belt, but zoomed through others. Ending class early or spending a lot of time with discipline shouldn't be happening often, but I'm not sure what you consider a long time spent on discipline to be. Martial arts are heavily focused on discipline so it's common for the kids to spend time sitting and listening to lectures on respect, discipline, history, etc. It may not be every class, but it should be expected. People sometimes send kids to martial arts to learn discipline, so a disruption here and there would not be unusual. I'd much rather see an instructor keep the group in line than let things slide to keep going.

Edited by Paige
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That is one of our biggest problems.  My kids are the oldest in the class so they are often paired with 5/6 yr olds or kids who are not close in size.  Really an issue for my teen DS.  Lately, he has to get on his knees to work with whoever he is paired with.

 

That's not even sort of okay.  It could be dangerous for the little one and is totally a waste of time for the teen.  Even in mixed age classes, sparring and drills are always with someone of similar size (except sometimes in our class I'll spar my 10 year old or my friend will spar her sons because it's fun for the last round or two - but we always start sparring time with people of the same size).

 

Are there just not very much teens or adults?

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Our dojo is split into white/yellow belts and orange+ belts. There is no age division. The more advanced belts are sometimes paired with a lower belt; sometimes they lead a small group of 3 or 4. Some brown belts are the same age or younger than lower belts. Everyone is accorded the respect, regardless of age or belt colour, but most certainly higher belts. If a student wants or needs particular attention, a senior student will mentor them. The sensei doesn't necessarily "assign" them, but they see the need and jump in.

Grading is twice a year, preceded by a seminar with the sensei's sensei. Grading is not required, but encouraged and prepared for. If you are not testing, you can just attend the seminar portion.

Thank you for bringing this up. It has really clarified what I am looking for after our next move.

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Just for reference, these are examples of from several classes-

 

One kid started singing at top of his lungs and dancing.

Several kids had a loud conversation during class and not caring.

One kid has decided he is a clown and clowns around. 

One kid lays on the floor during class.

 

 

These are just a few things.  The instructor is trying but the owner is our problem.  

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That is one of our biggest problems. My kids are the oldest in the class so they are often paired with 5/6 yr olds or kids who are not close in size. Really an issue for my teen DS. Lately, he has to get on his knees to work with whoever he is paired with.

Why would he have to get on his knees? Our "assistant" instructor is a very tall gangly teen, and he would never get on his knees when he's working with the kindergarteners. They aim where they're supposed to aim, and block where they're supposed to block. Your opponent will rarely have the same reach as you. The aforementioned teen has even shown the little ones what an advantage they have, as they can step inside and he can't counter.
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That's not even sort of okay.  It could be dangerous for the little one and is totally a waste of time for the teen.  Even in mixed age classes, sparring and drills are always with someone of similar size (except sometimes in our class I'll spar my 10 year old or my friend will spar her sons because it's fun for the last round or two - but we always start sparring time with people of the same size).

 

Are there just not very much teens or adults?

 

The owner says the next belt has older kids and teens.  The school has a no one above 17 in the kids classes.  I did ask the instructor about the next level and he says the class is 10-12 year olds.  I don't mind them being in mixed classes but this age difference is really messing things up.

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Just for reference, these are examples of from several classes-

 

One kid started singing at top of his lungs and dancing.

Several kids had a loud conversation during class and not caring.

One kid has decided he is a clown and clowns around.

One kid lays on the floor during class.

 

 

These are just a few things. The instructor is trying but the owner is our problem.

I would look somewhere else. Those things should simply not happen. Of course, kids are kids and it has happened that they start chatting, but that is nipped in the bud. And not necessarily because the sensei has to. Anyone could say shhh, and they would be like, "(gasp) oops!"
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I missed this from the OP: "But several times now, class has ended early or our instructor is spending a large amount of time discipling others."

 

This is not okay at all.  Our chief instructor has trouble ending classes on time, but going over.  We have a LOT of classes every day so staying on schedule is important, every 30-45 minutes from 3:30 to 9.  The junior instructors help keep him on time lol  Time disciplining should not be taking much from the class.  Our instructor can say, "Stand strong, so-and-so" and most of those kids will shape right up.  If a child has to be spoken to too many times, they will be sent out of class for a while. It's rude to the rest of class for a child with a behavior problem to be allowed to monopolize the instructor's time. 

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Our TKD dojang put our kids (12 and 18yo) in the adult classes. The only times they might be with the little ones is during a graduation to a next belt but that is VERY rare. 

 

It is common among pretty much all martial arts studios that when you leave one to go to another, you start over at white belt. I really don't know why.

 

Sounds like it might be worth it for you all to switch if things don't get resolved.

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Just for reference, these are examples of from several classes-

 

One kid started singing at top of his lungs and dancing.

Several kids had a loud conversation during class and not caring.

One kid has decided he is a clown and clowns around. 

One kid lays on the floor during class.

 

 

These are just a few things.  The instructor is trying but the owner is our problem.  

 

And the instructor did not stop them immediately?  I mean, kids do stuff they shouldn't.  But the instructor should shut it down right away.  If he is not, that is an instructor problem.

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Our school offers two adult classes (ages 12+), two children's classes (ages 6-11), a "tots" class for ages 3-5, and two family classes (ages 6+) per week. Belt grading is held four times a year. You make the list if the instructors decide you're ready to grade. If not, you practice hard and hope to be ready in three months when the next grading comes around :-). It takes only 3-6 months get to the next belt at the beginning but a year plus for higher belts (although we do have stripes that are removed as we move through a belt color).

 

We mostly attend just the family classes. We typically have other things scheduled on the other class nights and with children and adult classes being the same night it ends up being a very long night. We haven't experienced any issues with age or size differences in our family classes. Everyone knows to watch out for people younger, smaller, less experienced, or less skilled. I think adequate staffing levels plays a big role. Our weekday morning class has a smaller teaching staff (only 3 black belts) for 20+ students but they use upper ranks to help with lower ranks and it works out fine. Most classes have 5-10 black belts so there's plenty of instructors to go around. One recent class had 15 black belts show up! They aren't all official instructors yet but there were more than enough of them to make sure each student received the attention the needed.

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In the school we attend (an ITA school) there is a homeschool class with all ranks but the instructor always pairs similar size together. In the evenings there are seperate kid and adult classes further seperated by rank (a class of adult white-yellow belts, a class of children green-blue belt).

 

If behavior such as OP mentioned happened at our school the child would be asked to sit to the side of class until they could behave and rejoin. The instructors do give warnings but won't tolerate behavior that takes away from the class.

 

ETA: You must be in your current rank for 4 months to test for the next belt. We also do pre-testing so that if the instructors don't see that you are ready you must wait. Testing is held every month.

Edited by Beaniemom
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And the instructor did not stop them immediately?  I mean, kids do stuff they shouldn't.  But the instructor should shut it down right away.  If he is not, that is an instructor problem.

 

The instructor does but then the owner gives them another chance.  The owner doesn't want to make the place a place kids don't want to be.  We have been in classes with him and he allows behavior that is just unacceptable.  That is why we switched to this instructor.  

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Just for reference, these are examples of from several classes-

 

One kid started singing at top of his lungs and dancing.

Several kids had a loud conversation during class and not caring.

One kid has decided he is a clown and clowns around. 

One kid lays on the floor during class.

 

 

These are just a few things.  The instructor is trying but the owner is our problem.  

 

That is so not in the spirit of a martial art - I am shocked. This program is pointless. If the kids do not respect the instructor, he cannot teach them.

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The instructor does but then the owner gives them another chance.  The owner doesn't want to make the place a place kids don't want to be.  We have been in classes with him and he allows behavior that is just unacceptable.  That is why we switched to this instructor.  

 

Leave. And tell the owner exactly why.

If the behavioral standards are this low, no effective instruction can take place. TKD is not just about executing certain moves; there is a whole culture and mindset associated with it. 

Our instructor has the kids meditate before practice. You could hear a pin drop.

Edited by regentrude
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The instructor does but then the owner gives them another chance.  The owner doesn't want to make the place a place kids don't want to be.  We have been in classes with him and he allows behavior that is just unacceptable.  That is why we switched to this instructor.  

 

Sounds like a bit of a respect issue between the instructor and owner.  You are probably right that the instructor won't last too long because of that.  Even if the program director at our school disagrees with something the chief instructor does, he does not intervene or reverse the instructor's decision/action.  The owner allowing all that sort of behavior in classes sort of totally ignores the whole discipline part of martial arts, huh?

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Leave. And tell the owner exactly why.

If the behavioral standards are this low, no effective instruction can take place. TKD is not just about executing certain moves; there is a whole culture and mindset associated with it.

Our instructor has the kids meditate before practice. You could hear a pin drop.

Yes! And it is my DS12's favourite part. He has mentioned how much he misses it when they are in a hurry and have to rush through it.
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At my kids' Karate dojo, there were 3 levels of kids classes ... ages 3 - 5 or 6 was in a separate class that was designed to be fun and burn off steam and act as an introduction to learning how to be in a karate class.  They learned skills, but in a developmentally appropriate way.  For kids 6 and up, the classes were separated by belt into beginner/intermediate and intermediate/advanced.  There were usually more than enough kids involved that even older beginners usually had someone of the appropriate size to work with.  With instructor approval, youths 15 and older could attend the adult class that was appropriate for their belt (2 levels.)  Kids learned early on to pay attention and stay on task.  Part of earning a white belt (as opposed to being a no-belt) was to understand class rules and to be able to say the school motto.  Sensei usually had an older teen helping out to keep kids focused and to give individual attention to people who needed refinement.  Not obeying class rules meant sitting out on the side and/or doing pushups.  That said, if there were a lot of young kids in the class, they knew to keep things hopping and interesting. 

 

As far as testing was concerned, it was announced at least a month in advance.  A lot of prep went into testing because every person testing was tested on everything that was learned from day one and Sensei needed lots of people to help out testing (usually people who earned black belt at that studio.) An advanced underbelt test could be 2-3 hours.  They usually did those tests 2-3 times a year and did some intermediate "stripe" testing for the youths to give some sense of accomplishment learning skills but were not ready for full belt testing. 

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At my kids' Karate dojo, there were 3 levels of kids classes ... ages 3 - 5 or 6 was in a separate class that was designed to be fun and burn off steam and act as an introduction to learning how to be in a karate class.  They learned skills, but in a developmentally appropriate way.  For kids 6 and up, the classes were separated by belt into beginner/intermediate and intermediate/advanced.  There were usually more than enough kids involved that even older beginners usually had someone of the appropriate size to work with.  With instructor approval, youths 15 and older could attend the adult class that was appropriate for their belt (2 levels.)  Kids learned early on to pay attention and stay on task.  Part of earning a white belt (as opposed to being a no-belt) was to understand class rules and to be able to say the school motto.  Sensei usually had an older teen helping out to keep kids focused and to give individual attention to people who needed refinement.  Not obeying class rules meant sitting out on the side and/or doing pushups.  That said, if there were a lot of young kids in the class, they knew to keep things hopping and interesting. 

 

As far as testing was concerned, it was announced at least a month in advance.  A lot of prep went into testing because every person testing was tested on everything that was learned from day one and Sensei needed lots of people to help out testing (usually people who earned black belt at that studio.) An advanced underbelt test could be 2-3 hours.  They usually did those tests 2-3 times a year and did some intermediate "stripe" testing for the youths to give some sense of accomplishment learning skills but were not ready for full belt testing. 

Honest question to the bolded-  Are you supposed to earn the white belt? The kids were given it at the first class.

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We do have all belts and ages together until around 16 I think then adult class other than the whites. The white belts get a separate class for the first term which is great. It's generally only a couple of kids so they get one on one which helps them get used to how the class runs and irons out a lot of discipline issues so they aren't disruptive when they move to the big group class. The only downside is the first day we went and there was only two kids I was kinda questioning how good the school could be and freaking out a bit - till I saw the crowd turn up later!

 

Discipline is rarely an issue - the guy is fantastic at managing any small behaviour issues and the kids are mostly motivated.

 

He usually has kid and adults from the adult class come early and help out so they get extra instruction and the older kids get extra teaching practice and review.

 

Usually the kids are matched to kids around their size though we had a few mismatches early because my son was older when he started which meant that he was sometimes matched with smaller kids.

 

Grading is once a term. Probably the only downside is that the progression is quite slow and I feel like my oldest could be working a couple of levels ahead of where he's at. Because most of the kids start young they progress slowly whereas he learns quite quick but is limited because they aren't allowed to progress beyond belt then tip then belt so it takes two terms to move to the next belt.

 

I would consider moving over the discipline issues if they don't improve. The discipline is one of the benefits of the class.

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Just for reference, these are examples of from several classes-

 

One kid started singing at top of his lungs and dancing.

Several kids had a loud conversation during class and not caring.

One kid has decided he is a clown and clowns around. 

One kid lays on the floor during class.

 

 

These are just a few things.  The instructor is trying but the owner is our problem.  

 

This is a bigger issue than the age spread, IMO.  They definitely need to work on discipline.  What is the owner doing that is keeping the instructor from maintaining discipline?

 

Where my kids go, the kids/teens are divided by level.  Blue belts and above are in advanced classes, green and below are beginner.  I think black belts also are separate.   They don't start sparring until they are blue belts and they are paired up by size - my two often spar each other.

 

They have a specific list of things they need to do before testing for the next belt.  They get stripes when they learn something for the next belt and have to have a certain number of stripes to test (I think it might vary depending on the belt but it's usually around 6).  They test every two months - it seems like older kids are more likely to test sooner than the really young ones.

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That is one of our biggest problems.  My kids are the oldest in the class so they are often paired with 5/6 yr olds or kids who are not close in size.  Really an issue for my teen DS.  Lately, he has to get on his knees to work with whoever he is paired with.

 

This is DD15 problem as well...She is tall for her age, and is paired with shorter kids, which puts her into unhealthy (in my view) positions, especially when they go through techniques slowly and she is on the receiving end (my kids do aikido). But then I see adults do techniques with the kids, so maybe the size difference is expected?

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Honest question to the bolded- Are you supposed to earn the white belt? The kids were given it at the first class.

In our dojo, kids have to earn a white belt. It usually takes a week or two. They learn the rules of the dojo and have to show a good attitude at home for a week, as attested to by the parents. This usually coincides with the end of the free trial period. This helps kids to take things seriously.

I don't think adults have to earn their white belt. They usually get theirs at the first class.

 

Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk

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This is a bigger issue than the age spread, IMO.  They definitely need to work on discipline.  What is the owner doing that is keeping the instructor from maintaining discipline?

 

The instructor either sends them out or makes them sit in on the side.  The owner "talks" to them and sends them back in or he comes into class and gives a really boring, rambling speech on respect. The speech is really an adult level speech and it goes over the young kids heads. I noticed the owner nevers talks to the parents about the behavior but the instructor does as long as the owner doesn't notice.  

Edited by itsheresomewhere
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The behavior issues you describe wouldn't happen at our school. A student needing extra help or encouragement to follow the rules would be firmly reminded of what the should be doing (standing still, being quiet...), if necessary assigned one on one help from an older, higher ranking student or even an instructor, or given push-ups or asked to sit out if the problem continued. The expectations are clear and there are rarely any issues - and certainly not to the extent you describe.

 

As far as sparring - when we work on specific techniques we are paired base on size. Free sparring is done several ways. We form two lines and one rotates so that we have the opportunity to spar others of all sizes and skill levels and have point matches where we are paired based on size and ability. The first allows us to learn by sparring students who are bigger and/or more skilled.

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Just for reference, these are examples of from several classes-

 

One kid started singing at top of his lungs and dancing.

Several kids had a loud conversation during class and not caring.

One kid has decided he is a clown and clowns around. 

One kid lays on the floor during class.

 

 

These are just a few things.  The instructor is trying but the owner is our problem.  

 

That is shocking. I would go somewhere else.

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I agree with going somewhere else. We do TKD for the discipline, and it doesn't look like that's being emphasized there.  

 

Our TKD grandmaster keeps control of the kids via firm instruction, or by making the child who is acting up finish by him/herself and all of the students seem to love him. 

 

His dojo works like a gym membership, classes 6 days per week, and you can go to as many or as few classes as you want to. Tests are every 4 months, but he only lets students test if he thinks they will pass and he's never failed anyone. There is an attendance requirement to meet to be eligible to test. Oh, and one day per week is reserved for only red/black belts. 

 

Adults, teens and 5yr olds are all together in the same class. I don't think he accepts students younger than that. There are a lot of middle/high school students and adults, enough that I think there's always someone similar sized for the taller students to spar with. 

 

Starting out, one of my favorite things about this place was that there wasn't set class groups/times, and that there are students of all ages and ranks. A new, older student will receive instruction from a younger, higher ranking belt student.

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I agree with going somewhere else. We do TKD for the discipline, and it doesn't look like that's being emphasized there.

 

Our TKD grandmaster keeps control of the kids via firm instruction, or by making the child who is acting up finish by him/herself and all of the students seem to love him.

 

His dojo works like a gym membership, classes 6 days per week, and you can go to as many or as few classes as you want to. Tests are every 4 months, but he only lets students test if he thinks they will pass and he's never failed anyone. There is an attendance requirement to meet to be eligible to test. Oh, and one day per week is reserved for only red/black belts.

 

Adults, teens and 5yr olds are all together in the same class. I don't think he accepts students younger than that. There are a lot of middle/high school students and adults, enough that I think there's always someone similar sized for the taller students to spar with.

 

Starting out, one of my favorite things about this place was that there wasn't set class groups/times, and that there are students of all ages and ranks. A new, older student will receive instruction from a younger, higher ranking belt student.

This is similar to how my son's karate dojo was run, and we really liked the flexibility it gave us. It was also wonderful when he was going through puberty and could workout almost everyday, sometimes twice per day.

 

There were beginner classes for all white belts and children still learning the behavior expectations, regardless of age, and the advanced classes were open to all adult and teen colored belts and to children when they were mature enough to not need any behavior reminders. Generally, children were not allowed to start classes until age seven, but the Sensei would make exceptions on a trial basis.

 

I don't recall there being issues with size mismatch for drills and sparring on any regular basis, although it did happen occasionally. But often times it would be used as an opportunity for the more advanced students to individually guide and teach their younger, smaller partner. As he got older and higher in rank, my son had many, many teaching opportunities at the school which was really wonderful for him. But all of it started from the one-on-one teaching opportunities in the mixed age and ability classes. The next level was working one-on-one with students pulled from class for extra help. Then came teaching under the Sensei's guidance, followed by teaching with the Sensei in the dojo but not supervising, and finally opening the dojo and teaching on his own. All of this was possible due to the very clear behavior and respect guidelines that everyone was expected to follow.

 

Testing was usually held once per year, but since the school was part of a regional non-profit association, students could also test elsewhere if the Sensei thought they were ready. Most people advanced about one belt per year, sometimes a bit quicker at the lower levels. This was traditional Japanese karate, so fast progression was not really the norm, and at the higher belt levels, there were mandatory wait times between tests. Testing for a regular black belt was not allowed until age 16.

 

Given the behavior issues at your current school, I would definitely visit some others. Personally, I think that mixed age and ability classes can be great if done correctly. I'd also see if there are any non-profit schools in your area. Although my son's school was a business, most of the others in the association were not. Some, but certainly not all, for profit schools are really nothing more than belt factories and have far lower behavior and performance standards. Many of my son's friends were involved with such schools for short periods of time.

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Ours is probably comparatively informal, but there aren't any real discipline issues to speak of in my experience.  The instructors are really good about getting the kids focused back on what they are supposed to be doing.  There was one 5/6yo boy who wouldn't behave after many tries, and they apparently kicked him out at least temporarily.  But they generally work well with all sorts of kids including kids with autism, Down syndrome, etc.

 

We attend "family classes" which are all ages from 4/5 to white-haired oldies.  :)  The adults generally work in the same room but a little separately from the kids, but they often end the class with the kids and adults "sparring" (of course nobody actually whacks a young kid).  I think age 14 is considered "adult."  When the young kids spar, they are advised to be careful not to hurt anyone; if there is a significant size / rank difference, the teachers place explicit restrictions on the bigger kid.

 

We do belt tests in groups every couple of months (for individuals who are ready).  We have "extra" belt levels though - it takes 4 belt changes to go from yellow to green, then 4 more from green to brown, etc.

 

I don't know whether they let you come in from another school and keep your belt color without a test of some sort.

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Our karate school is roughly cut into classes for 5 and under, 6-8ish, 9-12ish, with an additional class for (again, roughly) that older group, with the more experienced kids.  Then there's 13-adult.  It is a GIANT pain for me, because I have 3 kids in 3 different classes, 2-3 times a week, but it's great for the kids.

 

Belt testing runs 3-4 times a year, and I'm not a fan of the way they handle it (or the cost!!!)  Classes get canceled for the week, with each group testing on a different day.  And THEN there's a day for the belt ceremony, Their way makes a ton of sense, but I'm paying out the nose for membership, so losing a week of classes and paying more fees really upsets me.

 

We're actually considering switching to a more laid back, all-ages place, but I agree there are big drawbacks there, too.  My kids are enjoying where we are, but more as a fun activity than serious work.

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Honest question to the bolded-  Are you supposed to earn the white belt? The kids were given it at the first class.

 

Usually our place gives white belts the first class, but I have seen several times over the years where they did not.  Reasons to have to wait another class or two include because the parents have said you are not doing well at home and need to improve to earn the first belt or because they didn't behave or show respect in class and so they just need a little more time to learn what is expected of them.

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Usually our place gives white belts the first class, but I have seen several times over the years where they did not.  Reasons to have to wait another class or two include because the parents have said you are not doing well at home and need to improve to earn the first belt or because they didn't behave or show respect in class and so they just need a little more time to learn what is expected of them.

 

All of the schools we've been to have given white belts, but one of our instructors talked about how when he was a child he had to work for months watching and cleaning before he was allowed to get his white belt and join the class. There may be some very traditional schools that do something similar here but it's uncommon. 

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I have been in 3 TKD and Mixed Martial Arts studios and moved from one to another in search of better training. Here is my experience: the first studio we were at (DS and myself) was a "Club based" TKD studio - meaning the owner sets the curriculum, does not have any affiliations to martial arts organizations and test for the blackbelts are conducted in-house. This place is wildly popular in my town and we were happy because of the gimmicks (flexible classes, 8 classes a night to choose from, tons of waiting space, in a busy mall with tons of parking, lots of our friends there etc). We dropped in for classes 5 days a week at a time that suited us. When DS graduated to their 6-month black belt training program, I was disappointed that the techniques taught were a narrow set of techniques compared to other studios and that they spent a lot of time on a mishmash of styles and called it "TKD-based MMA". No other TKD studio in my town would accept the black belt transfer to them because all the others were affiliated to the Kukkiwon (WTF) or the other organization (ITF) and their curiculum/style/technique was vastly different from what DS was taught. It was a big blow to DS because he wants to pursue TKD through college and beyond and most univerrsities in my state offer WTF training in their TKD program. I was looking for a friendly martial arts studio when we started out rather than planning for a long term commitment to TKD.

So, we moved to a reputed GrandMaster from Korea who is a 8th degree Dan and he tested my DS and put him at the intermediate level for the Kukkiwon TKD style. My son is now working for his black belt in the second style of TKD. I will not call his time spent earning his first black belt a waste - because he did learn some techniques, sparring and had fun there. But, his progress in Kukkiwon TKD would have been much more had we started in the current program. 

 

My advise to OP: Black belts cannot be transferred to a new studio if they are not issued by a martial arts organization (e.g. Kukkiwon). This is very important if your child wants to continue to higher levels of belts or compete or take up the sport in college. Make sure that you check on who issues the black belt when you look into a new TKD school.

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BabyBaby just turned 15, and began martial arts at age 7.5, so half of her life!

 

She is a second degree black belt and instructor in a Karate style developed by her instructor based on several styles he trained in. Her rank would not be transferred to any other style, but a similar one might allow her to test into a higher belt more quickly than expected. Her style has seven belt levels from white-black.

There are 1/2 hour classes for ages 4-7. A 7yo with a mid level belt might be invited to the teen or adult class, BabyBaby was. There are classes for all-ages 7+, and one for teens/adults of any rank. BabyBaby works with people of all ages and sizes. Testing is on an as-needed and if-ready basis. It took her three years to get her black belt.

 

About 6 months ago she began Judo as a white belt. She now has yellow. There is an all ages class, and the gym is large enough that the youngest kids have a separate space. They all warm up together, and do some exercises for the final 5-10 minutes of class with the teens and adults. There is also an adults-only class one night/week. BabyBaby was invited to that at age 14 as a white belt. The other teens, even those with higher belts, do not attend the adult class. None of the adults have a problem with her being there. I think they forget she's a kid because she can kick some serious butt! There is no formal testing, each student is evaluated individually and awarded a belt when ready. It can take 5-10 years to earn a black belt, and no one under 18 can earn one. There are two extra colors for the kids, and kids progressing through those colors often get their brown or black on their 18th birthday.

She also works with teens and adults of all sizes, ranks, and strength. She is 5'1", about 115lb. It is hysterical to watch her do a firemans carry with a friend who is over 6', or a girl who is maybe 6" taller and more solidly built.

There seems to be a little more "flexibility" with the younger kids when they are working in their own space, but when they are with the teens and adults they are expected to follow stricter class etiquette. New students of any age work one-on-one with an instructor until they can do certain techniques, and are ready to join the regular class.

 

BabyBaby also studies Israeli Krav Maga. Her instructor also trains SWAT teams, and she has demonstrated moves on police officers while they were in full riot gear. She is the only person under 18 in the class.

 

Summary: IMO, if a class has mixed ages, there needs to be sufficient instructors so that everyone learns something. Classes with mixed belt ranks are pretty standard. Wild, undisciplined classes of any type are not acceptable to me. I have found that what usually happens when schools cater to the kids who don't want to be there is the unmotivated and unwilling stay, and the motivated ones leave out of discouragement.

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Our school has different age groups and different level classes. There are the littles aged 3-6, next are 7-12, and last is the teen/adult. Class levels are trial course/beginners, black belt club, and masters. The youngest kids have a 30 min class while the rest are all 45 min. We do a homeschool class which has mixed ages & levels but it's really small so they still get personalized attention. Our school does belt testing every 8 weeks. At blue belt level they have to have their belt for 2 cycles (16 weeks) before they can test up. They have certain things that they work on each cycle and have to pass those plus the belt test to rank up.

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There are multi-level teen/adult only classes. 

There are multi-level family classes for all lower belt levels.

 

There is a multi level (white and yellow belt) "little tigers" class for preschoolers and 5 year olds.

 

There are mostly children's classes by belt level. 

Black belt level classes have older children, teens and a few adults in them. Many adult blackbelts choose the teen/adult class. A few take the older children/teens/adult class because it fits their schedule better.

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