[quote]Robert A wrote:
Now, if you personally feel that your son is getting something beneficial out of the classes (self discipline, respect, better focus, a form of exercise that he enjoys doing, etc…) then fine; often times children’s martial arts is more about character building than it is about physical combative skills anyway.
But personally I would feel conflicted knowing that what the instructor was teaching my child was fake or at the very least less than optimal and could even be misleading him as to the nature of reality or his capabilities to defend himself. [/quote]
I normally agree with Sentoguy, but not in this case.
I would not feel conflicted at all.
I would be shopping for alternatives.
I am a firm believer that there is a lot in the martial arts that benefits children and adults that have little to do with being able to inflict harm on a resisting person or fighting off an attacker intent on doing you injury. However, I think the art has to have benefit in these situations to bring those other benefits to the table.
The confidence, discipline, and accomplishment that come from studying and practicing martial arts can do wonderful things. In some cases I have seen it border on the magical. However, if the student isn’t learning something “real” or “useful” than where is that confidence coming from? How easy will it be to have it eroded or even shattered?
I hold that part of what grants the benefits of training in a martial art, is that it is training in how to manage violence (even if the violence is fairly removed from likely scenarios). Wattering down, or limiting this aspect too much then stops making it the practice of “martial arts” and turns it into “something else”. The student is not so much a “martial artist”, but is just someone “practicing”, “studying”, “doing”, or pray for us all “taking” X. Now there is value in learning any difficult activity. Musashi(who may have known a thing or two about violence and martial culture) didn’t think you had to study a martial art in order to study The Way. I don’t disagree, but I think that whatever is studied should be honest and legitimate.
If your child builds any confidence, feeling of accomplishment, or sense of identity on skills that aren’t there or don’t “work” and then is put in a situation to use them, problems can arise. I am not so much speaking about physical injuries, or even “losing a fight”, but of the emotions associated with thinking you have been trained in a martial art and finding out you that you were either A.) lied to and the techniques don’t work or B.)no good at applying them whatsoever. Young people do not always handle these issues well, young men especially so.
Real skill in martial arts/combatives is a fantastic thing. It is hard won, but there is no real substitute for it. Developing that skill is about continuous self improvement, which requires honesty. If the lessons are false, than it isn’t really “improvement” is it. If the student picks up on this then they might be expected to no longer devote effort to the lessons(negating any of thos coveted “other” benefits) or even worse lapse into cognitive dissonance and start practicing self deception. This is worse than merely the opposit of self improvement. It is anathema. It will prevent any honest improvement.
If you cannot find a decent class for his age group, I think gymnastics is great for small children. Children who practiced it always seemed to have leg up when they showed up to a real martial arts class.
Robert A [/quote]
Good counter points and personally I would not choose to have my kid in such a school either. I, like you, am an RMA guy through and through, and if what someone is teaching my kid doesn’t work, I’m pulling them out and going elsewhere.
But allow me to offer some counter points and explain my original point.
not everyone does martial arts to become badass fighting machines. Some people want to compete in forms competitions (we call this XMA short for exhibition martial arts). Pretty much all of the application has been stripped from such training in exchange for maximal flashiness, athleticism, and “wow” factor. Then you’ve got people who are looking for disciplines, structure, and perhaps feel some draw towards a cultural identity/history; so they take up a TMA (traditional martial art). In many cases they wind up training with archaic weapons, and in some the applications of their techniques are far from practical, pragmatic or even effective. None of these apply to me personally, but far be it for me to tell others that they are wrong for training in martial arts for these reasons. Whether you want to argue that these should not be called martial arts is another discussion.
regardless of how effective something might be, if the child does not enjoy doing it then they aren’t going to want to continue going. Sure the OP could drag his son kicking and screaming to class every week/day and force him to continue (and perhaps some would agree with that approach), but the child is not going to put much effort or heart into their training if they hate being there, which is only going to result in the child not learning anything anyway. At least if they enjoy doing something they are going to actually put effort into learning it (even if it is inferior to the other hypothetical school if an equal degree of effort is given).
the kid is 4. His neuromuscular system is realistically incapable of even learning how to execute most combatively effective techniques. Not to mention that his attention span is most likely measured in seconds and his interests are likely just as short lived. There is no telling whether he will actually stick with his training and as a result I don’t really see any problem with letting him do something that he enjoys. Now, if he sticks with it for a couple years and really seems to have a passion for MA (and tries some of his stuff out on some kids on the playground only to find that it doesn’t work), then yeah, maybe start worrying about stuff like combative effectiveness (in all likelihood he’ll probably gladly change schools in that case).