And other martial arts

I am looking for a couple of classes for D to attend that will help reinforce body control, balance and body discipline. I was thinking gymnastics and/or a martial arts discipline. I’ve been reading about as many as I can (I think I found about eight different types) and I think taekwondo might be the one that I am looking for, but thought I’d ask if anybody had any experience in any of the disciplines and which might focus on body control the best.

@gazChap @jem is it taekwondo that you do? Do you find it helpful in the sense I am looking for? I am suddenly overwhelmed with options and I think I need to narrow my search :D
I've done some martial arts bits and bobs, only as an adult so I've not a lot of direct experience with youth stuff, but at D's age I think the quality of the instructor and the class is going to be waaaaaay more important than the difference between karate and taekwando. I'd honestly go with "instructor you get the best vibe from", if that makes any sense.
It is taekwon-do that we do, yes. I've no direct experience of karate, but the style of TKD that we do (more on this below) focuses very much on body control, balance and discipline, and I'd definitely recommend it -- it's also great for adults too.

Now, the big issue with TKD is that it's not as simple as saying "I do TKD", there are a number of different styles and associations. The two main ones are the ITF and WT (previously called the WTF):

ITF are the International Taekwon-do Federation, and broadly speaking are the original association that is aligned with the creator of TKD and the founder of the ITF. ITF style taekwon-do is focused more on self-defence, theory and learning how to use your body and its various tools to defend yourself effectively should you need it.

WT are World Taekwondo. This is the main "competitor" to ITF, and its this style of TKD that you'll see in the Olympic Games. It's a much more sport-focused version of TKD, which is great if you're looking to do it as a sport but not so much if you want to learn how to defend yourself or learn self control etc. (although there are elements of this too!)

Me, Jem and the kids do ITF Taekwon-do.

Now, to make things a bit more confusing, there are several other off-shoots and associations active in the UK that you may come across:

TAGB: Taekwon-do Association of Great Britain. This is an off-shoot of ITF Taekwon-do. By and large it's identical, the main difference comes in the way that they perform movements -- they don't use a technique called "sine wave" whereas ITF does. It's not a particularly important difference in the grand scheme, but the ITF way of doing things is more powerful and also looks and feels more natural and graceful, whereas TAGB movements tend to look really robotic and rigid.

GTI: Global Taekwondo International. I don't know much about this one, I think it's another off-shoot of ITF. They're shit ;)

Now, to make things even MORE confusing, there are actually three (count 'em!) different ITFs. This is because TKD comes from Korea (pre Korean War deunification) and is so completely embroiled in politics at every stage of its development that there have been all sorts of arguments and fights internally, leading to splinter groups. In practice, I don't think this matters, all of the different ITF groups will be mostly the same as far as D's training goes.

Any dojang or TKD school worth its salt should have no problem telling you which style of TKD they use when teaching, and it may even mention it on their website. If you have a school in mind and aren't sure, send me their details and I can try and find out more and give you my opinion. I would say "and my instructor's opinion" but he's biased ;)

If you have any questions, just ask, happy to help :)
Have you considered the good old school favourite of Judo? Then I'd move onto sword training, and possibly constitution to increase the damage he's able to absorb before falling. A Bard or Paladin could be hired to cast healing spells, natch.
What’s nearest / cheapest?
Zardoz wrote:
What’s nearest / cheapest?

Looks to be Worcestershire for £850. There are five of them, so you may get a discount if you only want one.

What type is he? I always start with a leaf type, but it really suffers at the fire dojo. You're obviously more advanced than that, so I'm guessing you've got a Psychic type. Good allrounder, but is very weak against Ghosts.
Thanks Gaz, that’s a lot of helpful info. I think the idea I had in my head was somewhere between the two types, ie: self/body control leading g to sport, rather than self defence. To be honest we are still trying to round up options, looking for venues and classes. I think Russell has found two or three and will hopefully enquire with both.

The other martial art I’m looking at is Judo, but to be honest that may be because I know it’s known as ‘the gentle way’ :D

We did look at Brazilian jiu jitsu so do also have that as an option.
There’s still a decent amount of the sport element in ITF, they do a lot of sparring — especially at competitions.

ITF sparring is less full-on in some ways than WT — ITF is only light contact (excessive contact is punished, as is causing injury) and punches to the head are allowed (which they are not in WT)

None of this would matter for someone D’s age, he wouldn’t be expected to be getting into full-on sparring until ~13 and above, but if he “gets the bug” and wants to carry it on then it’s better to not have to switch types!
Interesting and relevant, the boys do Ju-Jitsu (I don't know of the exact type and it doesn't really matter to me - but they recently went from being independent to part of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu group) and our girl does gymnastics, all at local clubs.

The boys at Jiu Jitsu:
Have a really good instructor, ex-copper, has young kids of his own, is firm but fair and engaging, has a sense of humour and all the kids respect him. Has some views on vaccines that I don't agree with but I can look past.
Started as pure fun and gradually introduced concepts like respect & discipline (which I like)
Has very much increased their physical strength and ability to stand up for themselves if required.
I've always 'rough-housed' with the boys and play wrestled on the floor - their technique and ability to resist being grappled is really developing. If the 10 year old puts me in a hold, there are times when it's genuinely hard to get out of, and I can't easily chuck him around (playfully) like I used to.
The boys also play football. I think the Ju Jitsu helps a little with the strength, resilience and coordination.

Our girl at gym:
She is SUPER into it, and it's easy to practice at home (she's always cartwheeling and handstanding)
Staggeringly strong core and solid tummy muscles for an 8 year old. Very flexible too, they are practicing doing the splits.
She has the best balance, and does better than the boys at things which require balance and coordination like surfing and skating. She's not as strong or physical as the boys but has far greater fitness (stamina and endurance) and coordinated movements.... TBF our boys are a bit lazy though.
There aren't many boys in this gymnastics class, which I think is a shame. Our boys did 'kindy-gym' for a while but were never that into it.
She was never that into the rough-housing type of play but we do fun things like practicing handstands, lifts, seeing who can hold a plank position for longer (she can), or even standing on my shoulders and pretending it's like a circus thing.

All the kids do swimming too, and the girl (8) and boy (10) are now at the same level in the same class, much to the older boys chagrin. Girl has better technique and ability even though boy is much stronger physically. I think gymnastics and swimming complement each other better than jiu-jitsu and swimming.

All in all any activity is better than none, and there's a lot of choice. Be mindful of the cost to yourselves, not just financial but also the running around, dropping off/staying to watch, going to competitions etc etc. It becomes a lot, and I find it's very easy to overcommit.

at D's age I think the quality of the instructor and the class is going to be waaaaaay more important than the difference between karate and taekwando. I'd honestly go with "instructor you get the best vibe from"

This is really good advice, a good instructor makes a huge impact and different kids will respond to different types.

I'd add to that the size/make up of the class, and even how comfortable the venue seems, the times of the classes, how easy it is to get to - all of that is part of the vibe.
Thank you! That’s really solid and practical advice, and I really appreciate the experience you have with your kids on what’s helping to improve coordination, balance, etc. that’s specifically what I wanted to look at initially, and did start off down the gymnastics route as that was my initial draw (as that’s what I did as a kid).

The Jiu Jitsu guy we initially spoke to is part of the Gracie group too. That’s the first thing we looked at as it’s where D’s friend’s sister goes. I would also like to look into a short course of classes for swimming as D can swim, but he looks like a drowning cat whilst doing so :D
You're welcome, I hope that whatever you end up doing is engaging, fun and healthy.

Of course, you may find it different to me and mine.

I think we are about to bring swimming lessons to a close and replace them instead with periodic practice - they're pretty good at the main strokes and I just don't want them to lose that. At the moment they are being taught butterfly stroke (which to me seems like a pointless stroke outside of a competition) and tumble turns, which they are totally not interested in as they don't want to go to swim squad/competitions. It's becoming a fight to get them to the lessons lately and I think sometimes the fight isn't worth it, knowing when to say 'OK that's enough' is important too.
Yes, I completely get that. I want to do something with Darwin. A few swimming lessons until he has some technique, strength and confidence in the water. Lessons to earn to swim well and have some safety in and around water rather than to ‘train’.
Thanks for all of the advice and suggestions in this thread. Bean goes to his first taekwando taster session this evening. They’ve just lost their regular venue so are in a temporary church hall, but the group is very small. The same place does hold larger groups in the surrounding areas, so we’ll see how they go. Two free taster sessions is a good introduction offer, I thought.
Sounds similar to where we train, we are just in a little community hall too :)
Taekwondo was cancelled for this evening.


Guess we’ll be trying again next week
Slightly related to this, I've attended a couple of BJJ classes. I am now 90% bruises and blisters.
I've always fancied a go at BJJ.
Great video of teh leetz

Darwin went to his first Taekwando session this week and got on really well. The guy that runs the session is really good, and took Darwin aside for some basics of how to punch and kick and he came home quite enthused.
Awesome! That's the main thing, if he enjoys it and wants to stick with it then he'll get something positive from it. Seeing as he started Taekwando at the same time as I've started BJJ we'll compare progress! I'm not sure if I'm learning much but my sternum hurts from being knelt on and some of my toenails are about to drop off, so I'm sure that's something.
Squirt wrote:
I'm not sure if I'm learning much but my sternum hurts from being knelt on and some of my toenails are about to drop off, so I'm sure that's something.

This made me laugh perhaps more than it should have :DD
BigOne passed her first Taekwondo grading on Saturday. I'm somewhat tempted to give it a go, but think I will leave it as her thing.
Dooooooo it. Especially because you're older, so you'll progress through the belts quicker and then she's the one playing catch-up! ;)
Darwin’s Tae Kwando Club is shutting down tomorrow, so we’re kind of left not knowing what’s happening, which is… annoying.

Post of the year, surely!
Moved Taekwando clubs. D hated the new one at first (echo-ey hall, not having a clue what was going on) but he’s really settled in now and asked to start attending twice a week instead of just once a week. They’ve moved affiliation from one set of letters to another. Don’t ask me which because I have no idea.
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