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Tae Kwon Do - experiences?


BlsdMama
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Especially if you have a story about an older child (late teens) starting.  Turns out we have a LOCAL tae kwon do studio.  Ya'all, I don't do anything local because our homeschool program is about 30 minutes away so I'm always driving.  This is about 1.5 miles from my house.  Wait, it gets better.  FAMILY discounts for more children!  My oldest children (17, 16, 14, almost 13) are the ones most specifically interested and she said they could begin the adult class.  It's twice/week and month to month for the fees and commitment.  

Any thoughts that I might want to consider? To me, this is ideal.  DH is nervous about committing, which  I get because we have a lot going on at any given time, but there are precious few activities that several of our kids can do and enjoy together.  AND I cannot even wrap my head around the concept of CLOSE and practically no driving.  There is also the side consideration that if we end up putting the younger kids in, it will be an opportunity for them to meet kids in this community so if we need to transition to the school here, they would know kids.

Any regrets? Considerations? Stories?

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Usually things like that have sort of a starter class/period, because they know some people will try it out and click and some will try and not have it be a good fit. So I definitely think it would be cool to try, then you just see how it goes. Sounds like a very healthy thing to pursue, and pretty soon someone in that group could be doing the driving, which means it's no trouble for you.

Oh and our story? Everyone says martial arts for autism. Well we put ds in one of those starter/trial classes, and he was more fit than everyone else (doing competitive gymnastics at the time), bored stiff, and sorta COMPLETELY MISSING THE CLUEPHONE on their point about it being ONLY IN CLASS. Well that and they kept on sending home these executive function style accountability/behavior worksheets that were work for ME and teaching HIM diddly because, hello, significant autism.

So we dropped the well meaning but ill fitting martial arts in a hot flash! LOL But was trying it good? Sure! Would I let kids try it who want to? Sure! But not everyone will pan out with it and there may be unexpected things like that (expectations, follow through, vibe, whatever). But try, sure.

Edited by PeterPan
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DH started as an older child & went on to become a blackbelt. 
 

The only con I’ve noticed is that once someone thinks of themselves as being in really good shape as part of their core identity, when they let themselves get out of shape they complain about it more than the average person. 

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2 minutes ago, Katy said:


 

The only con I’ve noticed is that once someone thinks of themselves as being in really good shape as part of their core identity, when they let themselves get out of shape they complain about it more than the average person. 

LOL, I think this might be true of all sports.  DH was in the Army and played multiple sports in high school and hates that he isn't in shape these days. 😉 

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We do Tang So Do (similar to TKD) and love it. I’d say go for it. We started as a family. My kids were younger, ages 5-10, but DH and I were adults in our 30s. DH doesn’t go anymore but I got my black belt a little over a year ago. I have a couple of kids who are on track to get their’s this year and a couple more who are looking good for next year. 
 

Our school also does only month to month dues rather than a contract and excellent family discounts. It’s been affordable and easy to take a month of for vacation and then jump back in. 

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4 minutes ago, 2ndGenHomeschooler said:

We do Tang So Do (similar to TKD) and love it. I’d say go for it. We started as a family. My kids were younger, ages 5-10, but DH and I were adults in our 30s. DH doesn’t go anymore but I got my black belt a little over a year ago. I have a couple of kids who are on track to get their’s this year and a couple more who are looking good for next year. 
 

Our school also does only month to month dues rather than a contract and excellent family discounts. It’s been affordable and easy to take a month of for vacation and then jump back in. 

The prices are insane.  I was looking at $80/month/kid in the city.  I'm looking at half that closer to me and with family discounts on top of that.  I checked credentials and reviews and they're reputable.  I couldn't believe it.  :O 

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We know loads of older kids who have started in their teens and almost-teens. It has been great for them.

Be prepared if you start for the not so hidden costs. Belt testing. Equipment.  You don't have to do tournaments, but they are fun once you get farther along, so maybe one or two of those per year. We get a family discount, but we still spend enough to notice.

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We did Tae Kwon Do for a while.  It was through our park and rec and so close and cheap.  My kids never liked the sparring and I honestly hated that part to.  Even with safety gear on, I am not thinking it is good to get hits to the head.  So I wouldn't ever have my kids go to a place that had sparring as part of it. 

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My son just started a few weeks ago at a TKD style gym -- it's Mixed Martial Arts but very hands off. (He did Brazilian Ju Jitsu when younger and it was such a bad fit -- so much contact!). He loves the new gym and it's making so much difference for him.  He started at 15 and is in the teen beginner class.  It is low key, supportive, and lots of fun.  We have very little open, so it's the one thing he can go to outside the home.  

That being said, he's only been a few weeks! But it's something new to do and to think about and that's worth it to us!

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Mine loved it, and would probably still be doing it if there was someplace near where we lived now.

MY DS started in the pre-school classes because he desperately needed something to burn off energy. A little while later, my DDstarted when she was in 6th grade. She was in it through 10th grade and still talks about it. She is not althletic or physical at all, and she liked that it was a group thing where one person’s skill, or lack of skill, was not a problem. The atmosphere was very respectful and there was never any shaming due to lack of skill or fitness level. By the time we moved, even my DH had joined. The class schedule was flexible and there were multiple classes each week for the different levels. The students could attend any class for their level.

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It has been great for my family. Belt testing does cost so many places rush you through belts because they get more money that way.  We call them belt mills.

I love that my different age groups can be in one class as that is less running around. Ours is very family oriented and focuses a lot on leadership and helping others so my son who is not autistic but has a similar condition in regards to regulation and a few other things was still encouraged to help, teach, and lead. 

 

That being said, everything depends on your instructor. The intensity of the workouts, the culture of the group, the focus on helping each other or leadership all depends on the instructor. 

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50 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

The prices are insane.  I was looking at $80/month/kid in the city.  I'm looking at half that closer to me and with family discounts on top of that.  I checked credentials and reviews and they're reputable.  I couldn't believe it.  :O 

Ours is cheaper than most places too. Family discounts start with the 2nd member of the family and get progressively bigger until the 5th+ family member is free. Then there’s a max monthly dues per family. Now I get an additional discount because I run our homeschool class. It comes out to less than $3/person per class. 
 

Things I’d look out for: 

How is advancement handled? We have minimum time and attendance requirements between belts, but time and attendance are no guarantees of progressing. You also have to demonstrate proficiency at the skills required at each level. So even though my kids and I started together, we’re all in different places. Some schools don’t do that. Belts are given out just based on time. 
 

Be aware of other costs. We have small grading fees. Just enough to cover the new belts and certificates and reps that come from headquarters but it can add up for large families. Also uniforms. Our school gives free white belt uniforms with sign up but eventually other trim colors are required. Weapons. Higher ranks have to learn a weapon before black belt. Sparring gear. Again, this comes later and we were able to find less expensive gear on eBay. Our school isn’t sparring right now due to covid anyway so you may have time on that. Tournaments. Some places require them, some don’t. Ours does but only in the year or so leading up to black belt. But again, no tournaments right now due to covid. These costs are spread out and some of one time purchases but something to keep in mind. 
 

I saw that a pp mentioned sparring. In non-covid times, when we spar, our federation has strict rules. Among them are no head or back contact for lower ranks/kids. We are a bit odd for the no head contact rule but it does keep things safer. We still wear head gear in case of accidents though. Also, anyone who spars too hard is made to sit out. We aren’t trying to hurt each other (although I have had some bruises!). So it can be done safely. Rules vary with federation though so ask if that’s a concern. 

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Check in about testing fees. Our family of 6 used to all train at a TKD studio, and the family rate was fantastic but the testing fees were not discounted at all! So that added up surprisingly fast and painfully.

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It was a great experience for our not naturally athletic or coordinated DD. 😉 She started around 9 or 10 and progressed through several belts, which took hard work for her and were satisfying achievements.

I am a peacenik and TKD did not bother me at all; they have such a philosophy of respect. 

She found she prefers swimming, so we do that now instead, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone, as long as the instructors are good.

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We do TKD as a family.  I just got my black belt in 2020.  My kids are a couple years ahead of me, because I had to skip so many classes due to work & health issues.

I love this activity, as does one of my kids.  I force the other to participate, calling it a "life skill" that she needs.  🙂  Both of my kids are always in a great mood after a class.

Anyone can start TKD at any age.  It accommodates all ages and ability levels.  I have zero regrets.

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My middle DD started in 2019, when she was 13 1/2. She did Demo Team and the basic classes until POTS and the pandemic sidelined TKD. She was a high blue belt when she stopped. It was fantastic for her. She has always been on the clutzy side. She made many friends, and she loved her time in it. She would never reach black belt due to the fact that we would not allow sparring and she could not do many of the moves due to dizziness. So she has decided not to return to it.

My youngest joined right before the pandemic; I think she did it for 3 months or so. She had been practicing with her sister long before we allowed her to start (around her 13th birthday). She wants to return to it when the pandemic is over. 

It can be pricey though. We paid per kid a monthly fee, uniforms including Demo Team uniform and robes, and belt testing every few months. One other thing I found was it started at 2x/week, and then they kept wanting to add more time there. It really was starting to take over all our evenings when the pandemic started.

The place my kids went has people from age 3 - 82. All are respected as working at their own level. 

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Who's teaching the classes?  The quality of teaching can be dramatically different at the same price points.  Are the teachers/instructors people with backgrounds in highly competitive TKD environments or are you basically getting fun TKDish kid camp for kids and adults?  We were shocked at how stark the differences were in our area.  If you're going to pay for TKD instruction, get real TKD instruction. If you just want some martial arts styled exercise, you should expect to pay less because you're getting less.

Don't interpret that to mean I think every student needs to get into competitive TKD.  I'm saying you should be getting quality instruction that prepares a student for real TKD at the competitive level if you're paying the going rate. We've been out of it for 3 years and moved to a different state, so I'm not up to speed on the current rates in Raleigh.  In the greater Phoenix area I was paying $150 per month for 3 days a week for 1 kid. In addition there were fees for uniforms, protective gear, belt testing, in school competition registration fees, and in school summer/fall break camps.

Whether or not the school is run according to Asian or American education standards is a deal breaker (in both directions)  for some people.  Ours was run by a South Korean master who immigrated as an adult who had performed in the Korean Tigers group. His wife, another instructor,  was American born and raised but their school was run according to Asian education standards and was overwhelmingly enrolled with children of immigrants from all over Asia.  We're fine with it, but many white and other types of Americans wouldn't be.  No excuses, high, rigid standards of behavior and performance, direct correction (occasional punishment) delivered without any intensive psychotherapy or apologies, etc. The instructor was funny, warm, engaging, rigid, precise, and demanding.

The cultural norms in the school can vary too.  Our TKD school operated like they were in South Korea and all related social norms applied. I'm not doing to detail all of that, but it can be a bit of culture shock. Part of it is group first, individual last in many instances and social hierarchies that mean different behavioral expectations depending on status which isn't something most Americans are used to.

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Up until the pandemic, we were going.  I started when my teen started.  It is truly a thing for anyone who wants to try it.  My kids and I did the teen/adult class together.  It was a lot of fun and our studio went out of their way to make sure all were included ( even modifying for disabilities).  We had unlimited classes a month but only attended twice a week.  I live in a high cost area and paid 250 a month for the three of us.   Belt testing is extra but it wasn’t too bad every 3 -6 months. Once TWD can resume normally, we will go back.  
 

Our studio just had a man in his 80s  earn his black belt.  

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TKD has been great for my DS.  He started at 8yo though.  He's almost 13 now and LOVES it.  I have seen many families attend together where the older kids/adults are beginners.  I say go for it.  You can always stop if it's not working for your family. 

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

Haha, that's what my ds needs, ju jitsu! Would totally put him in his place, lol. 

Those kids were SO energetic.  My not so athletic kid was not unable to keep up with their constant energy levels, and then the times they did chokeholds really put him over the edge!  The gym was run by a former Marine (my husband is retired USMC, so we thought hey, what a great guy!) and he WAS a great guy. But SO intense.  The place we are at now is like a fun summer camp. Totally what my kid needs at the moment! 

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If you are a serious learner of TKD, then, as @Homeschool Mom in AZsays, look for a TKD school run by a Korean trained master who is affiliated to the Kukkiwon (Korean TKD University). This ensures that they follow a standardized curriculum and prepare the students in a way that it is easily possible to transfer out to another TKD school later in life (e.g. at an university campus) or as an adult. We are a TKD family. We have done TKD starting when my son was 4 years old and he is a teen now. He has gone on to get multiple black belts and is an Assistant Instructor at his DoJo. We started with a very popular local school which had an Americanized TKD/MMA teaching style and years later found out that they had their own curriculum and Forms and that my son had to relearn the standard Korean Forms when we moved him to a School run by a Korean GrandMaster. That set him back by many months and he went through needless hardship to get back on track. So, if you think that your kids will pursue this in the long term, even as adults, find a school run by Kukkiwon affiliated Masters and enroll them.

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We do it. (Well, not me lol).  Dh started at 45, dd12, ds10 and youngest dd at 9.  Oldest ds did a few months at 17 before he went to college. So, don't worry about age--people start at all different times.  Dh and my middle two just earned black belts (delayed bc of the pandemic, but finally they were able to test.) It has been so good for them. I was thrilled dh wanted to do it with them.  I think it really bonded my middle two together.  At the time they started dd was closer to my oldest. I love that it's something they do together.  Our program in non contact.

Be prepared--they may start kicking and blocking each other in your house at random times. Like someone walks out of the kitchen and boom someone kicks or punches, the other blocks, etc.

We ended up getting a heavy bag to hang in our basement.  This is a wonderful stress reliever for cranky teens.

I love how it has built all of their confidence and my ds, who is less athletic than my girls, feels comfortable and capable with his body.  I wish that I had gotten my oldest involved earlier for the same reasons.

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39 minutes ago, mathnerd said:

If you are a serious learner of TKD, then, as @Homeschool Mom in AZsays, look for a TKD school run by a Korean trained master who is affiliated to the Kukkiwon (Korean TKD University). This ensures that they follow a standardized curriculum and prepare the students in a way that it is easily possible to transfer out to another TKD school later in life (e.g. at an university campus) or as an adult. We are a TKD family. We have done TKD starting when my son was 4 years old and he is a teen now. He has gone on to get multiple black belts and is an Assistant Instructor at his DoJo. We started with a very popular local school which had an Americanized TKD/MMA teaching style and years later found out that they had their own curriculum and Forms and that my son had to relearn the standard Korean Forms when we moved him to a School run by a Korean GrandMaster. That set him back by many months and he went through needless hardship to get back on track. So, if you think that your kids will pursue this in the long term, even as adults, find a school run by Kukkiwon affiliated Masters and enroll them.

Yes, when you earn a black belt from a Kukkiwon affiliated master/school you're registered with a photo ID from Kukkiwon in S.Korea that is accepted at other Kukkiwon affiliated schools. My daughter has one.

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My daughter received her black belt last year.   She really enjoys TKD and it's been great for her confidence and as exercise.  She is eligible to do demo team but doesn't want to (anxiety).  

My ASD son did it for years and it was great for him.  Their dojo actually has a adult special needs class and are amazing working with all kinds of limitations or preferences.  Unfortunately a kid who was bullying him at Sunday School ended up joining their dojo was ended up leading to some problems that resulted in him quitting.  I'd love for him to go back but haven't been able to talk him into it. 

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