Welcome to your child’s first martial arts class. As the sensei, or teacher, it is my job to make you and your child feel welcome. Our purpose is to pass on our knowledge and passion for the art we teach. Relax and have fun. Here are some of the things to expect and how to prepare for it.
What to Do When You Arrive
Please be there to support your child. This is really important as most children will be very nervous in their first class. It is completely natural to be a bit scared—everyone is on their first day, but you’ll soon see there is nothing to be afraid of. The sensei will see to it that your child is made to feel welcome, and will do everything in his or her power to make sure your child has a positive experience on their first day. The sensei will introduce himself or herself to you and your child upon arrival.
Try to get there early and find a seat. Most good schools will allow parents to watch the classes. Locate the nearest toilet so you can find it when you need it. Try to have your child use it before class, so they don’t miss anything important in class. Make sure your child checks with the sensei if they have to leave class. Bathroom emergencies are the exception.
When you arrive, if the other children are running around and playing, let your child join in, unless there is a class in session. This is how children relax and make friends.
A professionally-run school will have information for you to read about their program. Ask the person at the front desk for a copy.
What to Bring to Martial Arts Classes
Have your child wear loose-fitting clothing and comfortable shoes. Uniforms (gi’s) will be available for sale, but try a few classes first to see if this martial arts school is right for you. Once you have purchased a gi, learn how to tie your child’s belt—it is not the sensei’s responsibility to tie the students belts.
Bring a water bottle as there will be drink breaks. Most schools do not allow food and drink in the training hall, except for water.
Bring a small towel—A good class will get you sweating a little and you will be expected to clean up your own mess if you make one.
What Happens in the First Martial Arts Class?
Bowing in and what it means will be talked about. Included in this discussion will be the importance of respect for others, when to use martial arts, and some of the history of their organisation. There might be some discussion of the rules of the training hall; such as no talking during class, hands to yourself, and listening when the sensei is talking. These rules are for the benefit of everyone.
Warm-up. Your child will learn the stretches that are done at the start of classes. The stretches are very important as they will prepare your child’s body for the fast, snappy moves of martial arts. This prevents injury and ensures that the student is flexible enough to perform the movements.
Stances. Your child will learn the basic stances, such as the horse stance and sparring stance. The names of the stances might vary from school to school. The stances are the building blocks of martial arts, and are very important, as a proper stance ensures good balance, power, and mobility.
Moves. You can expect some blocking moves or a limited amount of punches or kicks to be taught on the first day. Some schools will break up the class and take the beginners into a smaller group where they can work at their own pace. If the whole class is a beginner’s class, they will probably all stay together.
Sparring. There should be no contact between students at this stage. Beginners should not be sparring (or pretend fighting), as they lack the control and technique of the more advanced students. Sparring, in a well-controlled and safe environment , will be done at a later time.
What Happens After Class?
This is the best time to ask the sensei any questions you or your child might have about the class or program. Don’t be afraid. A good sensei is there to help you and your child achieve success in the martial arts.
If your child is excited about the class and wants to return, you have found the right school. If not, you may want to look around a bit more. Read this post I have written on how to find a good martial arts school for your kids.
Try to practice the techniques shown in the first class before the next class. This will help your child improve faster and will make them more confident in later classes.
Do not worry if the moves seemed a bit difficult on the first day. Everyone, black belts included, were once white belts. We all felt uncoordinated, awkward, and uncomfortable when we first started. The sensei is patient and will offer encouragement to your child. In a very short time, your child will gain the confidence to achieve their first belt on this marvellous journey.
Does anyone out there remember their first day of training in the martial arts? Your comments are always appreciated.