An unsolicited testimony of a Tiny Tiger's mom:
Eliot's been taking Tae Kwon Do now for a year and 4 months or so. I have to say that I absolutely LOVE it! He does too, most of the time. In the beginning I just thought it would be a great way for him to get physical activity and social interaction a couple times a week. What I didn't know was how much the values and disciplines would add to our lives.
Let me backtrack. During a kickboxing class of mine, I met our instructor's son who was about 14 at the time. He was so kind, helpful with the little kids, and very respectful towards adults. I asked our instructor what she did to get a teenage boy who had no attitude or awkward behavior towards adults. She said, "Tae Kwon Do and Church! He has lots of adults in his life that back up what we teach at home!" I took mental note. About a year later we enrolled Eliot in a Tiny Tigers class. I had no idea what a blessing it would really be. Now, upon first glance you may not notice it all. The respect, the values, the teachings.
Upon entering the building, Eliot must look for all black belts and bow to them, he must then bow to the flags that are hung on the walls. After taking shoes off, he enters the line behind the classmate directly above him in rank. When class begins, he bows to the master instructor, the assistant black belts, and their direct instructor. All of these things promote respect for authority. He must also refer to all black belts as sir or ma'am.
If at any point during class (or any other time, for that matter) Eliot needs to adjust his uniform, he must turn so as not to be facing a black belt to do it.
They also teach the tenants of Tae Kwon Do: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, Indomitable Spirit. The kids learn what each of these mean and are expected to use these tenants during class and in every day life. They quiz the kids often on these and ask them how they are using the tenants at home. They are tested on these during promotion tests.
They have to learn birthdays of parents, instructors, and masters. This is to get them to think about others.
They learn about safety and self-defense. For example, did you know that the safest person for a child to go to when lost? I was always told a person in uniform. Wrong. It's a mom with kids! There are two other people to go to BEFORE a person in uniform. A grandma with kids, and then a store clerk. Helpful information.
They memorize their address and phone number.
They learn what to do if a stranger grabs them: NO-GO-YELL-TELL. They practice it so that if they are in the situation, they aren't too nervous to do it.
There are so many valuable aspects to martial arts, though I'm obviously partial to Tae Kwon Do! :) I have heard that some people think kids should be older to take martial arts, but I so highly recommend it for young kids because of the lessons in safety, respect, and discipline.
I am sure we'll try other sports in the future like basketball, soccer, or baseball, but I have a feeling we'll be sticking with Tae Kwon Do for all our kids for life!