Our preschooler has been begging to try martial arts for over a year. We told her she could start when she was four, and she held us to our word! For her birthday, she asked to do karate, so we looked into the options around town. We found many different types of programs, offering a wide range of martial arts. Luckily, it turns out that we picked a real winner!!
Can't recommend this school enough, based on our experience so far. They teach a mix of Tae kwon do and Hap ki do. Here's what we love most:
The Teaching Style. There is a perfect balance of stern, serious instruction that requires discipline and respect -- yet in an age-appropriate way so it's not overly intimidating to young kids. The master commands respect, yet laughs, jokes and has a ton of fun with the kids. They follow like moths to a flame and are clearly comfortable and happy as well as challenged throughout the experience. The classes are also mixed age / belt level -- which works really well, giving kids someone to look up to as they see the more advanced belts do harder moves, and also giving those older kids an opportunity to help mentor and feel proud of what they've accomplished. The warm up is done all together, and then the belt levels break out into smaller groups. Works perfectly.
Pace / Rythm of Class. The 45 minute length allows plenty of time for a very thorough stretching series at the beginning. Then as they move through class, there is a wonderful variety of activity while they cover the forms and drills. The kids are never bored and yet not overwhelmed. It's an awesome balance.
Flexible Schedule. You can drop in to any class during the week, and vary which you attend from week to week. This is golden for busy families juggling other activities as well as the inevitable wrenches in the schedule like getting sick, etc.
Holistic Character Building. By including at-home materials like a responsibility chart, family rule sheet, and other rewards (like stickers, patches, and trophies for reading x number of books) -- their approach covers all aspects of the martial arts. The discipline, respect, responsibility, consideration of others that are cultivated offer a great reinforcement to what we already work on with our daughter. Not to mention the self confidence she's building through this awesome sport. There's a lot of family involvement too -- the master shows a really genuine interest in knowing how the kids and their families are doing.
Great Exercise. 4 year olds have infinite energy -- love having such a healthy, well-rounded way to help her expend so much energy.
Authenticity. It's easy to find many watered down martial arts studios around town. By that, I mean that they lack the culture that the sport is rooted in. We wanted this to be a well-rounded experience, physically, mentally, and culturally too. This includes being exposed to the language, customs, and spirit of the culture (in this case, Korean). We live in a very diverse community with a large Asian population, so why not let our daughter get immersed in that? While the other centers are fine, I'm sure, they feel more like playtime with a martial arts theme. Granted, that's based on pure speculation, having not attended other schools. In any case - I love that this is a small local business we can patron, rather than a big chain.
As for the price, we got a special they're offering for $99 for 9 Weeks, including free uniform. The classes are twice a week, so that's 18 classes you're getting -- which is an awesome deal.
However, we're considering the real cost now that it's been 8 weeks and she had her first belt test (which she LOVED, and was a really cool experience, not to mention she came home with two trophies for Most Improved and Student of the Month). First off, the belt test itself was $40 - steep considering the initial package price. Also, to go forward with the program, they have an annual package for something like $1200/year or $150/mo -- and mind you, it's twice a week which is a major time commitment for any family, I'd say. They will refund your annual balance if you have to pull out at any point, which is fair (though they just got to make interest off of your money).
It does feel to an extent like you get hooked in to the experience (as does your kid) and then up-sold on much higher cost commitments. Kind of feels like those trophies were a sales tool in a way. Yet, all the great things we love still remain, so I'd still ultimately recommend it for sure. Also - I think for most people, if you're just looking for an initial exposure to martial arts, the 9 week session might be enough in and of itself. Once you start to see your kid excel though, it's hard to not want to continue.
After the first class, we couldn't get our daughter out of her uniform for hours -- and she proceeded to come straight home and reenact the entire lesson (playing the master, of course), making us go through the warm ups and poses. It's a huge hit and we'll be keeping her involved in this sport for a long time to come, I have no doubt!
If you live in the South Bay and are looking for a great sports activity for your kids -- give this place a try for sure!
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Really loyal, a little more lippy than I'd wish, love love love the beach and all things tropical, sneeze freakishly loud, love the F word, came of age in the Midwest during the 80's, get a lot … more
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Provides Taekwondo and Hapkido instruction at two locations in Torrance, CA.
Children's Classes Age range 3-10 Basic Tae kwon do, and an introductory to Hap ki do, Which consist of poomse (forms), kicking, hand techniques, weapons, and basic acrobatics. Discipline, respect, setting goals, and fun.
Junior's Classes Age range 11-17 Mmain difference - more in depth. More Hap Ki Do techniques, and more advanced Tae Kwon Do curriculum.
Adult Classes Age range 18+ Self-defense, confidence, and weight control. Full Tae kwon do and Hap Ki Do curriculum, with extra training in basic Muay Tae, Aikido, and American Boxing.