Martial arts for kids

Combat classes for kids aren’t just about learning self defence

Sports and Outdoor

Combat sports are a great way to build confidence, co-ordination and concentration in young children and there are plenty of classes to choose from all over Dubai. But if you don’t know your Taekwondo from your Tai Chi then how can you choose the right one for your child? This is just a taste of the diverse range of combat sports available in the city so give your kids a fighting chance, do some research and choose the one that’s right for them.

Aikido is a Japanese, non-violent, defensive martial art developed in the early part of the 20th century as ‘the way of harmonising the body’. It doesn’t rely on punching or kicking, but uses circular, turning movements to deflect the energy of the attack. According to John Ratnam at Aikido Club Dubai, ‘Aikido classes do not include training in destructive forces such as punching or kicking as it is more about cooperating and finding solutions without aggression, helping children deal with everyday situations in a calm manner.’ See for yourself at the Aikido seminar at Dubai Karate Centre from March 27-30.
Aikido Club Dubai, Al Wasl Rd, (050 795 2716).

Capoeira is a Brazilian form of martial art combining movement and music with ritualised attacking and defensive exchanges, improving power, speed, balance and flexibility while providing a full-body work out. It originates from an African slave form of fighting that is disguised to look like a type of dance, including lots of impressive leg sweeps and acrobatics. Professor Espoleta from Capoeira Mestre Alabama Dubai says, ‘The philosophy of Capoeira has shown positive results in children, helping to develop their personal and social growth. It also builds confidence and dedication, which are essential life skills. It balances the body and mind as well as providing an effective and intense cardio work out. We believe Capoeira changes lives.’
Capoeira Mestre Alabama The World Black Belt Centre, SZR, (050 103 4672).

Kung Fu was made famous by the films of Bruce Lee a long time before Jack Black’s Panda came on the scene. This ancient Chinese fighting form dates back thousands of years. It is a striking style of martial art, utilising kicks, blocks, open and closed hand strikes as well as throws and joint locks. Renshi Renjith, Chief Instructor at Golden First Karate and Director of Renshi’s Fitness says, ‘Most of the movements and steps are based on the movements of animals, like the monkey, leopard, tiger, horse and snake. Learning these natural defensive movements creates an enthusiasm in children to observe Mother Nature in a different dimension.’

Taekwondo originates from Korea and loosely translates as ‘the way of the hand and the fist’. Combining a series of moves including blocks, kicks, punches, take downs, leg sweeps and open hand strikes, this sport teaches unarmed combat skills, self-defence, power and philosophy. The difference between this and other disciplines is the emphasis on the use of the feet, as it uses 70 per cent of kicks versus 30 per cent hand movements. ‘Taekwondo trains the mind, strengthens the body and improves co-ordination. Regular practice helps children to be fit and fearless,’ states Mr Chan, trainer at Renshi’s Fitness.
Renshi Fitness, Tecom,, (04 452 5599).

Karate is a stand up, striking martial art steeped in Japanese history. Employing kicks, punches, knee strikes, elbow strikes, palm-heel strikes and knife hands (the famous karate chop!). According to Girish Dhanra from Dubai Karate Centre, ‘Karate is an ideal sport for children as it teaches them respect, sporting discipline and fitness. Kids gain confidence, focus and concentration when they become involved with
the sport.’

Judo is a modern form of Japanese combat and an Olympic sport. It originates from Jiu Jitsu, was refined by Samurai warriors, banned by Imperialists, but revived and restored 1882. It is a competitive sport where the objective is to throw the opponent to the ground, immobilising them with a pin, or forcing them to submit with a joint lock or choke.
Aikido, Judo, Karate and Kung Fu classes are held at Dubai Karate Centre, Al Safa 1,, (04 344 7797).

If making a decision is still proving difficult, the folks at Family Martial Arts may have the solution. Chief Instructor Wael Al-Sayegh explains, ‘Because each kid is different, we encourage students to discover what their likes and dislikes are.

A student may prefer to grapple up close because his or her body or character suits a more close range approach. Others who are naturally fast may prefer to strike. The way we see it, martial arts cannot be taught in separation of the non-physical components, the life skills and personality development side is as essential as the physical, if not more.’
Family Martial Arts, Emaar Gold and Diamond Park, (04 388 3003).

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