|Some of our Youth Karate Students|
Lately, I have come across a few discussions online about what karate material is appropriate to teach to children. From what I have seen, this discussion is always a Catch-22 situation. If you say that you teach effective techniques to children, then a bunch of people jump on you, saying that it’s too dangerous and irresponsible. If you say that you don’t teach effective techniques to children because it’s dangerous and irresponsible, then a bunch of people will jump on you for teaching useless techniques to children who might have to defend themselves. You also get people saying that children simply shouldn’t be taught karate, at all.
|Two of our students working tuidi (joint locking) kata application|
In our dojo, we teach practical kata application very early on. For children, we don’t teach them techniques that are dangerous for them to practice due to a lack of body control/awareness, but there are plenty of effective techniques (which are inherently dangerous) that can be practiced relatively safely. If we come to a move in kata that is too difficult for them to do, or too dangerous for them to practice, we will generally just demonstrate it so that they can see it has a purpose, and then move on. In our experience, this process works just fine–we have never had any children get seriously injured, nor have any of our students used what they have learned to seriously injure someone unnecessarily.
For some of us, myself included, teaching karate is as much a passion as our own training. Yes, it can be difficult–and sometimes, quite frustrating–but it can also be very rewarding. We get the chance to teach children (and adults) how to defend themselves, while at the same time helping them build their confidence and improve their health. The girl pictured above recently came up to me before a class I was going to teach and said that she was happy to see me, and that she missed me, before giving me a hug. I’ve heard her say, before, how much she appreciates me teaching her, her sister, and their mother how to defend themselves, and that she enjoys the way I teach. This is the kind of thing that makes teaching children worthwhile! Would she be as happy to see me if I didn’t teach them how to defend themselves effectively? Maybe. But I certainly wouldn’t feel as though I had done my job.