Seven to nine-year olds are what most people consider “the golden age.” They are proficient in their vocabulary and problem-solving skills, yet they are not at the age where they want complete independence from adults. This makes the teacher-student relationship stronger than ever. The problem we discovered is they still lack core skills, and although they are highly intelligent, they struggle to keep up with students ages 10 and up. The solution we found is to provide them with their own program that targets their stage of development in a manner that adapts to their adventurous attitude and youthful nature while at the same time building skills that set them up for success. With that said a structured program introducing core skill-based training in Martial Arts has proven to be very successful.
Here’s an overview of the stages of development of children ages 7 to 9:
- Physically – they typically have weak fine motor skills therefore proficient technique is not quite there yet. Also, they still tend to stumble when their body is in motion therefore advanced movement is still a little sloppy.
- We expect them to initially struggle with great technique in their blocks, strikes, kicks, and stances. We also expect them to initially look sloppy when jumping, spinning, switching feet, etc.
- The goal for our program is to get them to perform technical blocks, strikes, kicks, and stances while applying power. Also, our goal is to get them to apply speed to motion without looking sloppy.
- Intellectually– they are extremely bright, but they typically have a hard time concentrating during distractions.
- We expect them to initially lose focus if there are other, more “interesting” things going on around them. We also expect them to forget simple commands mainly because they try to “over-think.”
- The goal for our program is to get them to concentrate on the task at hand despite other distractions. Our goal is to also get them to retain simple information without trying to put excessive thought into it.
- Emotionally– they are wonderfully stable and love challenge. However, they will typically show excessive fear when they over-process something.
- We expect them to have emotional stability for the most part on normal days. We also expect them to initially show excessive fear when put on the spot.
- The goal for our program is to help them persevere through challenges, especially when they initially feel like giving up. We will also help them face their fears.
- Socially– they love to interact with others, especially adults. However, they typically don’t like when something is unfair and will be determined to point it out and be heard.
- We expect them to initially interrupt us when they think something is wrong. We also expect them to show great determination when trying to get their point across.
- The goals for our program are to help them know how to address problems and challenges properly without interfering on the overall flow of the class.
By understanding the stages of development of 7 to 9-year olds, we were able to select 8 age-appropriate skills that make up the Core SKILLZ Program:
We cover one of the above skills per class (in order.) During each class we run a warm-up; deliver a mat chat about the skill; run two or three skill-building drills; and then we have them demonstrate the skill to earn their skill-stripe. They must earn all 8 skill-stripes in order to graduate to the next belt level. Once they earn their next belt they will continue to run through all 8 skills earning their skill-stripes with more challenging curriculum as they advance to each rank. They graduate to the Extreme SKILLZ program after they have successfully completed all 9 belt ranks of the Core SKILLZ program.
Here is an example of what a white belt must demonstrate for each of the 8 skills above in order to earn their next belt:
- AGILITY – Switching feet and kicking the pad with their front leg. They must be able to switch feet and kick a pad with their front leg ten times in a row, without making a mistake or looking sloppy, in order to pass.
- TECHNIQUE – Demonstrating the three stage 1 block’s and three stage 1 strikes from memory. They must show the proper chambers and ending position for all of the moves in order to pass.
- COURAGE – Dodging targets that are thrown at them from five steps away. They must be able to dodge five targets in a row in order to pass.
- FLEXIBILITY – Holding middle splits. They must be able to hold the middle splits for 30 seconds without falling in order to pass.
- INTENSITY – Palm strike board break. They must break a board with a palm strike in three shots or less in order to pass.
- PERSEVERANCE – Holding each static leg, arm, abdominal, and core exercise. They must not lose technique or else they have to start over. They must hold each exercise for no less than ten seconds in order to pass.
- SPEED – Demonstrating the 8-move kickboxing combination. They must perform the kickboxing combination with proper technique three times in a row in fifteen seconds or less in order to pass.
- CONCENTRATION – Performing combinations 1 – 5 of the stage 1 form. They must perform each move with proper chambers and execution in order to pass.
As you can see, we at Kato Karate, take Martial Arts training to a whole new level! We use core elements of traditional Martial Arts curricula to build skills that are appropriate for 7 to 9-year olds. This means that your child will learn and grow at a pace that is not too easy, nor too challenging. The best part is the Core SKILLZ program will equip your child with skills that they will utilize in every area of their life!