Greetings Tek-Ninjas. It's been a long and glorious summer. Alas, backpacking, mountain biking, and fishing will slow down dramatically with the return of school.
Even so, in order for me to stay productive and focused, I must incorporate movement and a little "bang-and-clang" contact with others. Some would refer to it as my sensory diet.
Recently a friend asked me to recommend something for his rambunctious 4th grader. She also craves movement and crashing into stuff. Her teacher notes that she wiggles non-stop in class.
I am a huge fan and advocate for martial arts. But not all martial arts offer the same experience. It's good to consider what your student (or you) will most benefit from. In our area there are multiple types of martial arts; Ninjutsu, Akido, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Folk-style Wrestling (America's Martial Art!) Jujutsu, and Brazilian Ju-jiutsu just to name a few.
Some martial arts are formal, and require a student to stand at attention and follow specific protocols, others are less formal and relaxed. Certain forms focus on punching and kicking, other's involve grappling on the ground to control or dominate your partner. Another distinction is whether the form incorporates learning long katas (prescribed choreographed movements) or short katas (moves). Also, does a school offer kid specific programs. A final distinction I make is whether or not the school participates in competition.
None of these distinctions make a school good or bad, but they are simple distinctions which may better suit a specific student.
Locally, my favorite school or Dojo is the Chapel Hill Quest Center
(QC), which teaches Stephen K. Hayes'
To-Shindo Ninjutsu. Both of my sons, and I trained for several years at QC. QC offers a blend of formality with relaxed friendliness. They offer a robust youth program which trains near-by the adults (meaning you and your child can train simultaneously), allowing you to be a role model for your youth. To-Shindo Ninjutsu is a blend of strikes, throws, wrist locks, and grappling. This art form uses short katas (ideal for folks who struggle learning long patterns), and is non-competitive. They offer a "Mighty Dragons" program for very young children which resembles an Occupational Therapist's sensory motor playground.
I'm also a fan of Folk-style or collegiate wrestling. This involves a lot
of physical contact, short moves to learn, competition, and self discipline.
A final consideration, parents may find it useful to talk with the staff and ask specific questions: i.e.: is your school comfortable working with kids with _______ (autism, Aspergar, sensory issues, or some other consideration). Some will be uncomfortable, others will jump at the opportunity to help your child reach his or her potential. Go where the staff are excited to work with your child.