|By Christina Crank (126.96.36.199) on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 07:34 am:|
At what age level should a young male start to train in the Arts ? What about a young female ?
At what age do you think it would be good to teach a young student advanced techniques, or would it be the rank of a student when the advanced techniques are to be taught ??
|By Dr. Michael J. Dunphy (Mjdunphy) (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, October 03, 2000 - 10:53 pm:|
Hi Christina. I have some very specific answers to your questions. At my dojo, we have experimented with a variety of stuctures for children's programs over the past 12 years. As a result of that work, we have found the following to work well. Children's classes should be divided as follows: 3-5 yrs, 5-7 yrs, 8-13 yrs and 14 and older go with the adults. Gender does not matter, individual child maturity does. However, you must construct the curricula for the age-sensitive classes very differntly in order to accommodate the variations in learning ability, motor skill development and attention span. Classes for 3-5 year olds need to be 30-40 minutes max, game oriented, fun and very positive. No emphasis on heavy anaerobic drills, few sequential repetitions and generous latitude for spontaneous behavior. The goal is to build confidence, have them experience success, guide their thinking and provide reasonable training in technical skills. They should have almost no emphasis on self-defense and heavy emphasis on appropriate behavior, courtesy and social skill building (boundaries, respecting others, etc...). I do not show any advanced skills to kids under 7 years. Advanced means an understanding of the true martial nature of their skills. In other words, a six year old could learn the solo performance pattern of kankudai, just as well as heian shodan, but they should not be shown the serious applications of these or any kata, only "light" versions which are reasonable and helpful, but not seriously harmful. Many schools consider "advanced" training to be high kicking, jump kicking, multiple sequences or longer and more intricate kata, but actually most kids can jump like crazy, learn any pattern (not with grace and power, but with reasonable skill), and so these things are not really advanced. Advanced training has serious intent and very nasty consequences. Very young kids, under 7, do not need to see any of this stuff. 7-12 year olds can begin exploring the martial ideas in stages. I build applications into drills in very fun ways, to soften the intent for the kids. Serious martial applications, bunkai, should not be emphasized directly until the teenage years. Young kids should have extremely good blocking, re-directing and evasion skills, and a good knowledge of ways to hold, escape holds and off-balance someone in their relative age group. Your curriculum should be developed so it is quantifiable, integrated and related, so that foundations for advanced skills are incorporated from the beginning, but also so that children are safe, encouraged to learn and rewarded for effort and achievement.