The PeeWee group consists of toddlers (three and four years old) and young children (five and six years old). Their class is a simplified version of regular children’s classes. It runs for 35 minutes: 15 minutes of warm ups, 15 minutes of drills, and 5 minutes of “splash” time. Splash is a word I use to mean a bump of time for sections that run over time.
Black belt teacher helping a yellow belt child
The very short attention span of this age group makes anything longer either useless or detrimental to their learning. In fact, for the first few months, the student may not “pay attention” to the full class. We allow them to develop this ability on their own time. They aren’t disrupting the others. It helps them focus on their objectives. When other kids are listening to the instructor, they begin to listen too.
A Special Class
Each session works on developing physical skills they’ll need for Kempo and school. These mini-skill development drills are couched in the form of games. We segment individual skills out of “regular” techniques and have the children work on one skill at a time. Some of the favorite activities (or games) are jumping and rolling.
Jumping develops strong legs. We also teach proper landing to prevent shin splints. This will give them a “leg up” when they must learn jumping kicks in the older children’s class. Rolling is just a small part of the ukemi (groundwork) regiment. Groundwork is the most challenging for adults to learn. When small children learn how to do it properly, they don’t fear falling.
He’s no Jet Li
The PeeWee group isn’t going to be “excellent” at Kempo. That’s not the objective of this class. In fact, their requirements are lower than that of other students. The goal is to develop physical coordination skills and listening skills. At this young age, getting her arm to do what she wants is a challenge. Secondly, listening to the instructor and following directions is also a valuable skill.
It bears reiterating this class teaches skills disguised as games and a limited amount of techniques. They rarely work out with partners because that leads to distractions or minor injuries. This age group loves to perform movements in sync with the large group. Everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. To a child, this is fun.
Will they ever be good?
This is a valid question in response to the class described above. What we have found over the years is, yes the children do become excellent martial artists. These primary skills of coordination and listening skills translate well to the more advanced Children’s program.
When they promote out of the PeeWee group, what we call Little Leopards, they do not have all the required material for advancement. However, they learn at twice the pace of children who begin class later in life. These highly trained ex-PeeWees pick up information very quickly. They know how to practice, their basic movements are honed, and they want to practice.
It is my experience that graduated PeeWee children move quickly into the accelerated Children’s Program and the Junior Leadership Team “STORM”. They built a foundation of valuable abilities that they exploit when their minds and bodies mature.
Children and Training
You must remember these are small children in a very malleable period of their life. We want them to enjoy exercise, enjoy learning and able to follow directions. They should feel good about what they’re doing and want to do it again. These are life skills, which will benefit them for decades.
Let them have fun. Small children aren’t physically or mentally able to defend themselves from adults. If others tell you otherwise, they’re lying.
So enroll them in the Little Leopards program today. The classes start as young as 3 and 4 years old in addition to the 5 and 6 years old students. Each age group is in its own class. We divide them by theme: Little Dragons, Little Ninjas, Tiny Tigers and Little Pandas.
While you’re at it, Kempo makes a great activity for parents too. Join our class designed for Moms — stay physically active, learn self-defense and learn what your kids are learning.