Little Ninjas, Kids and Juiors
Little Ninjas, Kids and Juiors
We understand that kids are kids, and they need to feel safe and have fun. That said, they can expect some drill sergeant work in class. As with adults, we strive to make a personal connection with each child to understand who they are and what they require as young individuals growing up in a world that that can appear stressful and confusing at times.
Typically, parents or guardians come to us seeking discipline, focus, respect for authority, self-confidence, and a physical outlet for their little ones. The dojo also helps children learn to socialize with a diverse group of peers. Our Little Ninjas program is a fantastic precursor to kindergarten as they learn to raise their hands prior to speaking, follow precise instructions, keep their hands to themselves, and cope with potential bullying (perhaps more importantly, they are trained not to participate in bullying—indeed, our kids are among the most well behaved). The main objective for the little ninjas is to learn the basic dojo etiquette and exercises, as well as how to follow basic instructions. Once these fundamental requirements have been met, the little ninja becomes ready for our “Kids” program.
As in the Little Ninjas program, our Kids program spends a lot of time reinforcing the basic rules of the dojo. At this point, however, the kids have learned to navigate the dojo in a more efficient manner. In contrast to the Ninjas program, where children are learning basic etiquette, exercises and names the various pieces of equipment, the “Kids” take pride in demonstrating just how efficiently they can respond to instructions and to what extent they understand the etiquette. For a “Kid”, raising one’s hand to annunciate some of the etiquette rules or to demonstrate an exercise, is the equivalent of an adult demonstrating an advanced martial arts technique. While most dojos will lump the Ninjas in with the Kids, it is our opinion that the separation of these groups cultivates a more highly substantive atmosphere. At these tender ages, it is imperative to lay the foundation down properly and with care.
While we continue to reinforce the prominent principles of our Ninja and Kid programs, juniors are granted a bit of leeway and are treated as fledgling adults for two reasons. First, while children in our Kids program are strictly prohibited from speaking to one another during class, juniors operate at a higher cognitive level. They can understand the principles of Kempo as a martial art at a basic level. Some discussion amongst the group is permitted as it encourages them to flesh out their own ideas, an activity that any teacher will agree is imperative to the knowledge process. Secondly, juniors are engaged in a transition phase where they are beginning to see themselves as young adults. Thus, it is important to lead them along this path by granting them certain freedoms along with the expectation that they value these freedoms and use them properly. Juniors come to see themselves as leaders in the kids’ community and are expected to lead by example. Just as our Kids program serves as an ideal precursor to kindergarten, our Juniors program prepares young ones for their transition into young adulthood.
One of the best ways for children to progress in any activity is for their parents to participate. Urban Kempo is unique among most dojos due to the large number of adult clientele. In addition, the large number of families enrolled in our program is also rare in our field. As a parent of young students, you will find yourself holding conversations with other parents that know the curriculum well and understand the techniques, exercises, and etiquette. We often have parents ask us how they can help their children practice at home. The best answer is also the most obvious!