How far does £5 go these days; I will answer for you, not far.
So, when this comes in an enquiry, both myself and my lovely wife and head of admin Kerry we both point out what you are getting in the children’s clubs.
Firstly, we recommend you pay as you go for the first four weeks to see if your little one enjoys it, if they do not join in at first and just watch then you get your money back until they join in the fun.
We know children get excited about training and want to buy everything from a t-shirt to gloves in the first few classes, but we try to curb that enthusiasm so that the parents don’t buy everything only for the child to decide after four weeks they don’t want to train anymore; so, the cupboard in your house will be filled with lots of fail sporting endeavours. This might sound mad losing sales and making money off excited children, but we do this to help the parents to make it easier for the children to stay.
If they enjoy the class, we ask them to get an Gi and an AFC t-shirt as a basic starter pack and pay a yearly membership fee of £ 12.50 (half the price of the adults). When they get the Gi, we always advise the parents to get a larger Gi and roll up the pants and sleeves so it will last longer (they will grow out of it before they wear out of it). Speaking of Gis, when they grade for their first belt, they gain a yellow belt, because no-one wants to get a piece of electrical tape on their belt instead of changing colour; where is the fun in that!
We charge you £5 for a belt and £1.50 for a skill badge, as there are no grading fees. We developed a belt and badge system because we teach small bitesize sections of all the classes we teach and as the child progresses through the belt system, the ratio is 2 badges to one belt so by the time they get to black belt they have about 12 to 13 badges down the left sleeve of their training Gi.
This leads to problems of sowing the silly things on a Gi, then taking them off when they grow out of the Gi and the process starts again and it also shows me that a lot of people can’t sow anymore; A skill I learned as a child that has been put to good use over the years with my daughter, Erin’s Gi. I did come up with a partial solution, were when she grew out of her jacket I would cut the sleeve out of the Gi and then sow the patch holding the badges on. This works for a good few years until Erin received her black belt after 7 years of training and was eligible to wear a black Gi, now I must take all the badges off the white patches and re sow them on her new black Gi; I might try glue!
Going through the grades the children develop good interactions because they learn not only about the martial arts but about respect for themselves and about respecting others. We get the little 4-year-old that sits on his parent’s knee and will not even do the warm up let alone the class but we try to gently persuade them to join in and it amazing to watch the shy child start to interact with the other children and begin to take their first steps in martial arts. We also present certificates for Confidence, Respect, and enthusiasm to outstanding students at the end of each term, chosen by the Instructors.
The terrapins are the first stop for the 4 – 6 yrs, as they go through this class it is mostly dominated with anti-bullying (as they do this every September for going back to school) by then they are just about to move from the terrapins to tigers (6 years-8 years), we use a senor grade system, were the senior belt gets the class in order both at the start and the end, and they are also used to demonstrate techniques and are encouraged to help the younger elements of the class just as they were helped when they first came in.
I love watching this happen as the old hand of the class tells the war stories about how they used to get the technique wrong back in the day (2 years ago,) but now it is amazing lol time flies when you are having fun.
Next, they take a leap into the Tigers club, where they do more advanced work and skill sets because they can retain more information (we hope) and their concentration is better. If they lack concentration or don’t take notice of the coaches, they go into the sin bin guarded by our grappling dummy called bob. They go in for 2 minutes for ruffing it (if they hurt someone) or if they be naughty. If they go in 2 more times in the same class they leave the class for the day and if they do this for 3 weeks they leave the club because I don’t teach bullies or children that don’t listen because I feel that it does not help their class when someone is disruptive; It is unfair and we will not put up with this behaviour.
Sometimes we are also teaching the parents this as sometimes the child my get away with things and the parents let it slide, but we will not put up with this in the class or the gym for that matter, everything should begin and end in respect and if we are teaching your child life skills you should also listen; you might learn something. Sometimes we get competitive children (and parents) especially when it comes to gradings. If the child has not done enough classes they are unable to grade, we do have borderline cases that let us put them in for grading but if they can’t do the grading because they have not been training, they can’t grade. Why would I purposely but a child in for grading knowing that they can’t do what we are asking them to do, it make no sense embarrassing the child putting them through that, just because the parent/child thinks we should. As an example, one child had not attended 2/3 of a term when we were training an Kamae no kata (from the ninjutsu syllabus) after much persuasion we reluctantly watched the child manage to do the first 3 out of the total of 18 moves that make up the kata, I rest my case.
From the tigers the child moves to the dragons, were they do a wide range of new skills such as weapons training and MMA. As they get nearer to their black belt they wear a belt that is black/red to signify they will be going for black belt, and the term leading to their grading they work through the major parts of the children’s syllabus concentrating on kamae no kata, sword work, kickboxing, ground work and self-defence all to be shown during the grading. This leading to gaining a black belt which then leads you full circle as you can come in and help teach the children’s clubs and as you see the 4 years’ olds faces when the young black belts help them train the circle is complete!
That is what you pay £ 5 for!
until next time
big love from the AFC