Martial Arts Classes for Kids
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Martial Arts Classes for Kids
Karate studio with workouts for kids and adults
I live in Rockridge and I'm looking for a place where my 6 year old son can take
karate (or similar) classes, but where I can get a workout in at the same time. I
do not want to take classes with him. Are there places that have classes for kids
and adults at the same time?
This might not be exactly what you are looking for, but I highly recommend the
Berkeley Kuk Sool Won school, at Dwight and Sacramento:
Classes include kids and adults, and there are also adult only classes (but they
are later in evening). My whole family (my husband, our son and I) has been taking
classes at KSW for the last 6 years, and it's been such a great thing for all three
of us. We are all black belts now, our son learned a lot about martial arts and
treating people with respect, my husband and I stopped having back problems, and
I'm in my best physical shape ever. We take same classes together, but our son is
in the front of the class with other kids, and my husband and I are with the adults
in the back. Kids are paired up with other kids for various excercises, and we work
out with other adults (or with each other, so that works as almost a date for us!).
So, if you want to work out while your child is taking a class, you would be taking
the same class, but you wouldn't be working out with him. We all get sweaty and
tired by end of each class. It's a great workout, and then you can practice what
you learned at home, with your kid or significant other. It's a lot of fun!
Try it, you may like it!
Check out www.studionaga.com - there are videos of our whole community training
together, kids and adults. Last Saturday we had kids aged 6 and adults in their
50s! It was super fun. Try a free class anytime!
East Bay Seido Karate in Berkeley [1940 Bonita Ave - off University] has classes
for kids, teens and adults, they even have a family class where parents can
train with their children. Their classes are in the afternoon and evenings
Mon-Fri as well as Sunday morning and their tuition fees are very reasonable. I
have been training and teaching there for 8 years and can't wait for my daughter
to reach 5yrs so she can start classes also. There is information and class
schedules and fees etc on the website http://www.eastbayseido.com
Martial Arts for 8 year old
Can anyone recommend a martial arts class for my 8 year old? He is an absolute
beginner who is open to trying something other than soccer. He likes the group
aspect of that sport, and the practices, but has a hard time focusing at games.
It is also hard for him because at this point a lot of the boys are advancing
far more quickly than he is.
My hope is that the environment would emphasize both discipline and a sense of
accomplishment plus being supportive and less focused on earning belts or combat.
However, I would love for the class to instill body confidence as he has
experienced some taunting, etc. at school (which has been taken care of).
We are in El Cerrito right between Richmond and Albany. Closer is better.
I can highly recommend the Aikido dojo that my 7-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl
attend, Aikido Shusekai (www.aikiarts.com). We drive all the way from Alameda for
this one. Classes are 2525 8th St. in Berkeley, meeting Tues/Thurs/Fri from
4:30-5:30; we usually go to two a week. Adult classes are at other times. The
teachers are outstanding; the art is taken very seriously, but they let kids be kids
too. We attend because I have long studied Iaido (Japanese sword) with the sensei
that operates the studio, and I met the Aikido teachers there. They do have belt
tests, and the kids generally get excited about that, but these tests do not cost
money, and there is no pressure--kids progress at their own rate. Again, an
outstanding dojo. In case you are unfamiliar with aikido, it is very much a defensive
art, teaching how to redirect an adversary's energy, and teaches a great deal about
how to use your own energy and your body effectively.
I highly recommend Kuk Sool Won for your son. Nearly all the classes are mixed
ages...beginner to advanced, and age 5 to adult. There are kids of all shapes
and sizes, and everyone is respected. Master Brewer emphasizes respect,
manners, self awareness, discipline, and confidence while teaching in a strong
but gentle manner. He's great with kids, and has 2 sons of his own. My
nearly-8 year old has gained much self confidence in the nearly 2 years he's
been there. It's in South Berkeley, near the corner of Sacramento and Dwight. It
takes me 15-ish minutes to drive from El Cerrito, depending on traffic.
For a lot of the same reasons you noted in your post, our seven year old son attends
El Cerrito Martial Arts, located on San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito. The Sensei,
Cody, is very knowledgable in both martial art skills and teaching kids of all ages.
He stresses respect and cooperation between the students and runs a well organized
program. Our son has been attending for approximately one year and he really enjoys
it. Don't be put off by the appearance of the outside of the building as the tenant
space next to the school is empty, but rather come in, talk to Cody and observe the
staff and students in action. I wish you good luck on your search.
My 8-yr old son has been going to Cal-West Karate in Richmond/El Cerrito border
for close to two years. He has a private 30-min class once a week with one
instructor. There are many group classes available during the week and you can
go to any of them. Cal-West focuses on self-defense.
He is now a purple belt, from a white then orange. There is no sparing until
you get to the purple belt, and it is optional. The best thing he has learned
to me are the weak points on the body. I am guessing if needed, he will use it
to defend himself.
My son is an introvert, does not like group sports, and has never done any
organized team sports. He does karate and in the winter, he skis. All
He has been physically bullied and made fun of in class, yet he has never used
his karate to defend himself.
I believe that the karate helps him build confidence within himself.
Hope that helps.
We love the Sport Fencing Center in Richmond right next to El Cerrito
(http://www.sportfencingcenter.com) Kids start and proceed at a variety of levels.
Many come just for the exercise and comradeship, though there is also a competitive
program. The couple (Karen and Darwin Martos) who run it are very supportive of
Fencing has no ''belts,'' so there isn't such differentiation of kids by skill level.
It is combatitive, in that it consists of bouts between two opponents, but these
bouts call for undivided attention, which I think is a plus, and they don't really
keep track of who wins each bout (unless you enter some of the competitions.) There
are also drills, stretching, and fun games (dodge ball, capture the flag), so it
isn't all combat.
I feel it has helped my kids with body confidence, while not being quite as strictly
disciplined as some martial arts. (My kids prefer a looser style.) Check it out!
Berkeley Martial Arts Class for 4 year old
Our 4 year old keeps asking about martial arts classes... OK, it's probably
because of Kung Fu Panda, but I like that she's interested in doing something
that will be fun, will teach her self-defense and help keep her active.
Does anybody have any recommendations? Is 4 years old too little?
Kung Fu Panda Momma
Hanabi Judo. They are on San Pablo in Albany. My 6 year old has been going
there for a year now and it has been absolutely wonderful. I don't know what
their age limit is, but I'm sure I've seen kids there as young as 4. The guy
who runs it is greatCbhis name is Dan.
Hanabi judo in albany, they have a pre judo class that would be perfect for
your 4th year old.
I would highly recommend Golden Lion Martial Arts Academy for your four year
old. My nine year old started in the Cubs class there at age four and has
loved it. He has grown physically stronger, developed self confidence, built
great friendships and all while having a lot of fun. The teachers for the kids
program are amazingly patient, nurturing and just wonderful. The school is
located in Albany, right near the Berkeley border. Their website is :
Feel free to contact me if you have specific questions. Best of luck.
Kuk Sool Won in Berkeley takes 4 year olds, and is an excellent martial arts
school. The teacher is very patient with the little ones. It's near the
of Dwight and Sacramento.
Kuk Sool Won near Homemade Cafe in Berkeley has a class for 4 & 5 year olds
and it's great. About 30 minutes long:
information-for-berkeley-martial-arts.html You can try a class for free. My
son loved it.
Studio Naga, in Emeryville, has terrific classes for young kids (ages 3 to 6).
The martial art practiced there is called ''Poekoelan'' and is an Indonesian
The class for young kids is called ''Jungle Gym'': it draws on the animals
associated with different forms/movements to teach the kids martial arts. Its
fun,taught by great teachers, and the studio itself is very warm and kid
friendly. I also found it especially good for my daughter, as there are lots
women and girls at the studio so it does seem as male-dominated as some
arts studios (this was a concern for my daughter when she started there at age
5, because she viewed any activity with many boys present as something ''for
boys''). Check it out!
Alameda Martial Arts class
Would like to know about a good martial arts class in Alameda, where good
self-defense skills are taught in a positive environment.
this is not Alameda, but Downtown Oakland, but my kids LOVE to go to SOJA Martial
They teach silat white Kung Fu, and have a bunch of awesome instructors (men and
you can find them on FB too
My family has been involved with West Wind Bok Fu for more than 20 years and I think
they are top notch. The instructors, men and women, are very professional & highly
trained. The emphasis is on discipline, confidence and personal achievement. I think
it is a really positive approach to giving your kid some skills and a very positive
peer group to balance out his or her life.
Pre-Capoeira Lessons for 4-Year Old?
Our 4-year old son loves to play fight and do ninja and samurai moves.
to hear about any recommendations for classes for budding ninjas and
close to El Cerrito.
We are also considering the pre-Capoeira class at Capoeira Arts in
would love to hear about your experiences.
My grandson loved the pre-capoeira arts classes he took at Capoeira
Arts in Berkeley. The instructors were amazing, the classes were fun
but also a great learning experience. He not only learned Capoeira
movement but also music, drumming and Brazilizn songs and language. I
would highly reccomend the class.
I am currently training with Omulu Capoeira in downtown Oakland at
Malonga Casquelord Center. There are classes for adults as well as
youth classes. The youth classes actually start for 4 year olds so your
son is the perfect age. The teacher has kids himself, around that age
actually, so he's great with kids and building their confidence. If
your little guy has a little energy to expend and is interested in
kicks and flips, this class is for him. The class is also safe with
warm up and stretching, but with plenty of time to learn lots of moves.
I'm a single mom so I have to bring my 7month old to class and sit him
in the corner with his toys. The teacher is understanding and even
helps me out when my son gets fussy, he'll go and pick him up while
still directing class. Hopefully you'll be able to make the trip to
Oakland. It's in downtown Oakland but parking is not an issue at all.
Capoeira is really great to expose your son to something new. There is
the martial arts aspect, the music, and the Portugese language. It's
difficult to have to bring my son sometimes but I definitely love the
fact that he is exposed to the drumming and music and movement at such
a young age. Your son will love it and you may want to join as well!
Capoeira is for 4 years old all the way to postpartum mamas!
Capoeira Class for 6 year old
I am wondering about signing up my 6 year old son for a
Capoeira class and am looking for recommendations. He hasn't
done martial arts before and isn't particularly coordinated.
I highly recommend sending your 6yo to capoeira. It's a beautiful blend
of martial arts (no contact), dance, and culture. I send my 4yo to
Mandingo on Piedmont Ave. The community, kids and teachers, there are
fantastic! They are happy to let you observe or have a free class for
your son to try it out.
Happy Capoeira Mama
Karate class for 4 year old
Recommendations please for karate and swimming classes for a
4 year old in Berkeley?
I highly recommend Rohai Dojo: http://www.rohaidojo.com/. I trained
there for many years and was also a student teacher. The ''Tiger
Team'' is for 4 and 5 year olds. Quoting from the Rohai website,
''Our youngest students learn about traditional martial arts
values - like non-violence, respect, cooperation, and helping
others - while practicing fun, safe, age-appropriate skills.''
Parents can sign up for classes too -- I first started taking
classes in support of my young nephew, and years later when he had
moved on to gymnastics, I found myself with a black belt! The
atmosphere is friendly and the student (and instructor) mix
includes folks of all ages and types. Holly
Martial arts for four year old
We just moved Kensington and I'm searching for a fun martial arts class
for my four year old son that's nearby. Thanks!
Hanabi Judo on San Pablo by Solano has amazing teachers--both adults and
teens. We have been very impressed with such a loving place. Lots of 4
year olds we know are taking classes there, and my 10 year old loves it.
Mama to a Judo Boy
Check out Hanabi Judo, nearby on San Pablo Avenune and
Solano (Albany)!! It's FAMILY friendly, not competitive
(although if you want to and are ready to compete, they are
Olympians who will train you for competition). Dan
Augustine is like a child whisperer, who is gentle, firm and
inspiring to the kids. Many of the pre-judo classes are
taught by younger students (teens) - one of them, Flora, is
16 and is the judo team captain of Berkeley High as well as
a blackbelt and national champion - I'd love to have her
babysit one of these days.
They are also offering summer camps (half and full days).
Are you on Facebook? Their page is:
Hanabi Judo Dojo:
841 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706
I cannot recommend Hanabi Albany Judo club more highly! Dan
Sensei and his energetic and talented blackbelts lead
fantastic classes for kids. My 5 year old is gaining great
confidence & taking great pride in his mastery of each new
skill. The classes are athletic, rigorous and fun: blending
running & jumping exercise with practice in basic judo moves
(the younger kids class does them solo on the cushy tatami
mats, the older kid's classes offer opportunities to
practice moves on a partner). Each class includes games that get their
hearts pumping and
the laughter echoing off the walls of the new, light-filled
studio, located close to the intersection of San Pablo &
Solano (lots of free on-street parking). The kids are also
learning some Japanese beyond ''Judo Japanese'', last month
was body parts, this week was basic introductions in
Japanese. Dan Sensei often films the kids and ''screens'' the
film during the same session, so the kids have a chance to
see themselves on screen immediately, which they LOVE! You can tell
that Dan has a background as an elementary
school educator--with 2 kids, I've had ample opportunity to
observe instructors and he is really in a class of his own.
I drive here from Kensington and would easily drive twice as
far! There are also family classes, should you want to join
in (I've taken a class myself and had a blast!).
Hanabi Judo Dojo
Dan Augustine, Sensei
841 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706, 510-530-8312
Happy Mom to a Judoka
Aikido for 8 y.o. boy
My 8yo is interested specifically in Aikido. We
live in North Berkeley. I found classes for kids at Berkeley
Aikikai, Aikido of Berkeley, the Albany community center,
and Aikido Shusekai. Any advice?
We train an Indonesian Martial Art at Studio Naga in
Oakland. It's not Aikido, but they do an excellent job with
kids in teaching discipline, self-defense and community. I
recommend coming in for a free trial class. My 9 year old
has been training for years and loves it! Karate Mom
Our son (now 12.5 years) has participated regularly in the
Albany Community Center's Ki-Aikido program for several
years. We love it! Sensei is a great teacher and role model,
he's also the parent of a 4th grader at an Albany School and
really understands kids. I would highly recommend the program.
I recommend Aikido of San Leandro with Sensai Pat. She is very well
experienced and is very good with children, especially the older kids,
as she too is a mommy! Her kid classes run every Tuesday, Thursday and
Friday, 5-6pm. My son loves his class...he's even learning how to
count in Japanese.:)
Happy Aikido Mom!
Martial Arts Classes - Hoa Sen Dojo in Emeryville
I am looking for reviews of the Hoa Sen Dojo on San Pablo in
Emeryville for my six-year-old boy. In particular, I am
interested if anyone has joined their summer program and has
any feedback on how the instructors and program would be for
a shy kid who needs some time and extra encouragement to
warm up to new environments. I am also interested in hearing
about their regular children's classes as well. Thank you.
kung fu mom
My daughter started at Hoa Sen at about that same age and now, at age
12, is a brown belt who helps teach the little ones! Hoa Sen is a
great community of teen and adult instructors. My daughter has been
nurtured, encouraged, and challenged by all her ''elders'' including
the many terrific teens. She says Hoa Sen is like a family and that
everyone is always willing to give extra help and encouragement to
those that need it. I highly recommend it!
--Happy at Hoa Sen
My two daughters (8 and 13) have been training there since August and
my son briefly too before soccer became too consuming.
I love the Dojo. Great women sensei's, clean. Terri is great at
instilling a sense of responsibility and great values in my (too
'entitled') children, and, they have learned so much in the martial
arts! Self defense, strength, confidence, flexibility have improved
So glad she's there!
My son and his 3rd grade buddies attend the cuong nhu classes twice a
week. I don't know the differences in the various flavors of martial
arts. But as taught by two wonderful women Terri and Pam assisted by
older girls, I love the focus on self-control and discipline.
My son initially wasn't that into it. And he's a kid who doesn't like
anything that is structured. I'm glad I didn't let him quit. (I said he
had to commit to one year) For us, it's been wonderful to see our son
gain mastery and confidence in this martial art form. Now, after 8 - 9
months, he's ''getting'' it and is proud of having made it to the
second purple stripe on his belt. I whole-heartedly recommend this dojo
to any child/family. The only downside is sometimes feeling like the
incidental fees for testing add up.
My son loved the summer camp last
year. They go swimming at the Emeryville Pool. cuong nhu mom
happy martial arts mom
My kids have gone to summer camp and taken regular classes at Hoa Sen
Dojo for years. It is a woman-owned dojo and we have always felt like
family there. I liked it from the very beginning because (1) the
sensei/teachers never talk down to the students, even the youngest
ones; and (2) the culture of the dojo is to have kids who are further
along teach and lead those students who are at lower levels. This
really encourages the kids to be responsible, and true to the practice.
The summer camp is great since they spend intense time on the martial
arts, which gets the movements more ''ingrained'', and then they also
swim often (there's a public pool across the street), and do really fun
stuff like go to A's games. I've always felt like the owners and
teachers really cared about and took care of my kids there.
Aikido Institute, Oakland, California
Hi - my children (12 year old daughter and 8 year old son)
are interested in taking Aikido lessons. They are both
beginners. We live close to the Aikido Institute in
Oakland. It looks good, but I was surprised to find no
recommendations or posts related to this school -
particularly given the fact that it has been around for a
long time. If anyone has experience with the Aikido
Institute, especially with children lessons (but also
adults), please let me know what you think. Thanks a lot!
I trained at Aikido Institute many years ago, and now train
at East Bay Aikido. Though it is farther away (Leimert,
near Park Blvd.) it is worth the trip. Sensei Gambell is
very good with youngsters and there are three incredible
senior students who help him.
People bring their kids from great distances for them to
train there. Before you make a decision, check it out by
bringing your kids to watch a class.
www.eastbayaikido.com - 1446 Leimert Blvd, Oakland. Andus
Martial arts class for quirky 1st grade boy
I'm interested in finding a martial arts class for my
6-going-on-7-year-old son. I think he would really enjoy it
and I'm sold on the benefits I've heard about from other
parents: from developing strength and balance to fostering
self-confidence and respect for others.
Since my son has Asperger's, I'm looking for a class that's
sensitive to the needs of quirky kids and not terribly rigid
in its teaching approach. My son has participated in classes
and camps in the past - gymnastics, drama, etc. - and the
ones that have worked the best have been tolerant of his
need to, for example, take occasional short breaks from
group activity or express himself in an unconventional way.
I think he'll really get into the discipline and ritual of
martial arts, but I'm looking for an instructor who also
mixes in a sense of play, humor and lots of patience.
(Oakland and Berkeley preferably.)
I really like the Karate classes through AYOP at Ruby
Bridges in Alameda. The teacher is exceptional with the
kids, and there are several non-typical kids he works well
with. He's gentle and fun, but instills a sense of purpose
in them. My son LOVES his Karate class - he's in 1st grade.
And they are CHEAP! http://www.ayop.org/SF_alameda.htm mom
of a yellow belt third degree
My kids fence at the Sport Fencing Center
(http://www.sportfencingcenter.com/) in Richmond (but only a
six minute drive from my kids school in Berkeley.) Though
there are age-divided classes, they have been very flexible
about what my kids take. They are also focused on teaching
at the level of each individual kid. The classes themselves
have a variety of activities (not just fencing), which your
child might respond to.
Fencing might not be the first martial art to come to mind,
but it's been great for us. Fencing parent
I would try Studio Naga in Oakland. We did a trial class a
few weeks ago and loved it. The instructors seem very
sensitive to 'quirky' kids (and there were a few in the
class) and seem to have a great community-style approach.
I again highly recommend Studio Naga. The kids program is
great ~ focusing on the whole person ~ and also have an
existing program for children challenged in group settings.
Also sending an e-mail directly to your address with
We love Bay Mountain Martial Arts on Grand Ave in Oakland.
Sensei Adrian is a wonderful teacher who truly has 'kid
charisma.' I think that if you gave him a call to talk to
him about what you are hoping for that he would be honest
about whether or not this is something he would be able to
work with in the context of the whole group of kids in each
Karate classes for kindergartner
I was wondering if anyone had any suggestion for karate
classes for an almost 6 year old little girl-anywhere
between Oakland and El Cerrito? She has not had any
experience We would prefer classes after school hours say
2:45 on? Or earlier hours on the weekend
I highly recommend Kook Sul Won in Berkeley on Sacramento.
location and phone number
2438 Sacramento St
Berkeley, CA 94702-2130
It is very kid oriented, a nice mix of ages, and probably
an equal number of boys and girls. Tom is a wonderful
sensei. My coordinated 9 year old started at the new year
and he has so much more discipline and respect from the
practice. My older son, who is not as coordinated, really
resisted even trying it. After trying one class in August,
he decided to join too. He loves it and feels more
confident about his athletic ability. Mom
I've heard really good things about Albany Karate for Kids.
You can find all the info in the Albany Activities Guide.
I highly recommend Studio Naga in Oakland! The kids program
for 3-6 year olds is amazing. Kids learn animal movements
of the snake, tiger, monkey & crane to build focus,
coordination & confidence along with standard martial arts
strikes (punches, kicks, etc.).
As children gain confidence, they are gently introduced to
the older kids program to add to the child's feeling of
The studio is very community oriented and it is easy for a
parent as well as each student, to have any questions
5850 San Pablo Avenue
A great place for kids martial arts programs is SAMA
Accadamy of Martial Arts in Pinole. My grandson who is in
kindergarten, attends and loves it. The instructors are
great with kids and they have introductory lessons and great
package deals. Classes are every afternoon at either 4 pm
or 6 pm or Saturday mornings and you can go to any class
that fits your childs schedule and mix and match the dates
and times. http://www.samamartialarts.com/classes.htm
Introduction to martial arts
Hi, I'm looking into a form of martial art to put my son in.
I'm looking for a more combat style vs 'wrestling.' Maybe
kickboxing even or capoeira (any childrens capoeira groups
in the area?). What's a good age to introduce these
extracurricular activities to children? TK23
Sensei Kayla Feder began practicing Aikido in Oakland when
she was 12 or 13, and now teaches children (and adults) in
her Dojo called Aikido of Berkeley.
There are children as young as five or six in her classes.
Aikido is very athletic, but concentrates on blending with
the attack, rather than aggressive. It is sometimes called
a defensive martial art.
Her dojo is very beautiful and peaceful, and she is a
wonderful warm teacher.
My children (3 and 8) both train at Studio Naga in Oakland
(near the Emeryville Border). My 3 year old participates in
the Jungle Gym class for 3-5 year olds. At this age they
are learning discipline, basic movements and focus. My
eight year old is in the standard kids class. At this age
she is learning self-defense, some fighting, with a
continued emphasis on discipline and focus.
As a mom, I have been extremely satisfied with what my kids
have learned. The instructors work really well with the
kids (and there are a lot of kids there!) and the classes
are structured yet still fun.
Martial Arts Mom
I highly recommend the school our whole family goes. It's
Kuk Sool Won of Berkeley, at 2438 Sacramento Street in
Berkeley (510-540-5425). My son, husband and I have been
training there for 3 years, since our son was 6 yrs old. If
you are one of those parents who doesn't have time for
sports, this is your chance to share something with your
child and get your excercise.
It all depends on a child, but I wouldn't start a child's
phys ed with martial arts before age 5. There are kiddy
martial arts classes and they are very cute, with uniforms
and all, but basically they are not much different than any
kiddy gym class. Martial arts requires discipline (rare
trait for a 4 year old or even a 5 yr old) and tends to give
less one-on-one attention than gymnastics which has the
adequate equipment geared towards very young kids,
That said, there are kids who are extremely focused at a
very young age and are fascinated with martial arts. In our
martial arts school, there are adult only classes, and two
10-year olds are attending those - and they are more focused
than many of the adults! Those two are rather unusual
though, they also have several other extra- curricular
activities in which they also excel.
Good luck, and hope you can practice it with your child,
too! practicing martial arts as a family
My son started martial arts about six months ago, just
before he turned 5. He goes to DJs, in the Laurel district.
I know nothing about martial arts, but my son really enjoys
going. The style they do is called Wun Hop Kuen Do, a mix of
karate, kung fu, and street fighting. But I wonder what the
kids really think they are learning.
DJ has a bit of a family atmosphere there. I know some of
the kids' parents learned with DJ. They keep it fun,
incorporate some exercise into class (running, jumping
jacks, etc) which the kids love doing at this age. They also
enforce discipline, in the sense of standing quietly,
following directions, and respecting each other and the
learning environment. Some of the kids that are 3 or 4 are a
bit young to stand still, and the instructors do a good job
of managing that. Bryan in Oakland
Kung Fu classes for kids in Berkeley or Albany
I am looking for a good kung fu school which has classes for
kids - preferably with a focus on discipline, balance, and
body awareness rather than violence. Any suggestions would
be welcome, particularly in the Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito
areas but also other nearby places would be fine. Mom in
I highly recommend Golden Lion Martial Arts in Albany. The
website is: www.goldnlion.com. My now 7 year old has been
going to Golden Lion since he was 4. The teachers are all
very compassionate, extremely caring, tough but
understanding. The program has instilled a great amount of
discipline and respect in my son and he looks forward to not
only going to class, representing his school at tournaments
but also practicing at home. Choy Li Fut Kung Fu, the style
taught at Golden Lion, is beautiful to watch and not violent
in any way. My son just started sparring recently and even
then the kids are told to work on technique and to take it
easy on each other. We have had a wonderful experience with
this program and feel like we are part of a larger family.
My son is determined to study until he is a black belt and
is already talking about being an assistant teacher when he
gets older because he loves the assistants who teach him now
so much. Good luck with your search. I am happy to answer
any specific questions or concerns you might have. Kelly
My daughters (3 and 8), as I all train at Studio Naga
(www.studionaga.com) which is on San Pablo at Stanford in
The form of martial art is called Poekoelan and it is a
compassionate martial art, meaning that the emphasis is not
at all on violence and definitely more about discipline,
body awareness, compassion and community.
The phone number for the studio is 510.652.6242, and the
head instructor is Louise Rafkin. Your child can try a
class for free, but it's helpful if you call first to tell
them when you're coming.
I cannot say enough good things about the school. It has
positively impacted all 3 of our lives.
Martial Arts Mom
Dojo in SF for 8 year old girl
I'm looking for recommendations for a martial arts dojo for
an 8-year-old girl. The specific martial art is not as
important to me as the opportunity for a positive experience
with self-awareness, self-discipline, strength, and growth.
We're in Potrero Hill in the City. Thanks!
I highly reccomend Ralph Gracie Jiujitsu on Howard St.
Between 7th & 8th Streets. FYI because Ralph is a Brazilian
name, the R sounds like an H and the a like in car not cat.
I trained there for about 4 years. Here a couple good
reasons to send your daughter here:
1. Brazilian Jiujitsu is widely regarded as one of, if not
THE most effective of the martial arts.
2. Ralph's grandfather is the founder of Brazilian Jiujitsu,
you don't get much more direct lineage than that.
3. Kurt Osiander, the head instructor, who teaches the kids
class, is an amazing teacher, and all around great guy. I
still consider him to be the best teacher I ever had.
4. Every girl should be required to learn Brazilian Jiujitsu
because many attacks are launched while you are lying on
your back with your legs spread and your attacker between
your legs. Any girl with a blue belt (it goes white, blue,
purple, brown, black) from Ralph, is essentially un-rapable,
even by a larger, stronger, opponent.
5. Jiujitsu is like wrestling, not punching or kicking. So
your daughter is much less likely to get in trouble at
school (or on the street) in the event she uses her skills
in some ill advised manner. Most likely her victims will
feel intense pain from what they percieve to be their own
actions, or else they will take a short nap while she has
plenty of time to get away. While it is entirely possible to
break bones or kill someone, the training process is such
that it is highly unlikely that you could accidentally cause
grievious injuries. You learn very quickly how not to kill
or break your training partners. BJJ is much more
controlled than throwing punches or kicks where adrenaline
or emotions could cause you to lose control and inflict more
damage than intended.
But most of all Kurt is awesome, I encourage you to go talk
to him and see for yourself. I love BJJ because it is like a
physical chess match. It is fun and challenging and keeps
your interest because it is as much a mental challenge as a
physical one. If you start your daughter now, by the time
the boys come sniffing around she will totally be able to
take care of herself.
I have only one bad thing to say, and that is; ANY Gracie
academy is frighteningly expensive. You get what you pay
for, and personally I think it is totally worth it. The
'sticker shock' factor can be quite daunting, although I
don't think it is so bad for the kids classes. I asked Kurt
about it a while back, for my own kids, and it didn't seem
too bad. My kids don't train there because we live in
Richmond and the commute is just too much, since the kids
class sort of cooincides with rush hour. This should not be
much problem for you on Potrero Hill.
Judo for 4 year old
My four year old is interested in Judo, and we're looking
for recommendations, positive or negative, for places in
Berkeley or nearby that have judo classes for that age
East Bay Judo Institute is the best! In their literature
they say they take kids at 4.5 years old. We have a son who
just turned 5 and has lots of energy. It's a great place to
channel some of that energy. The instructors are all
volunteers, some are former Olympians, others are nationally
recognized. Just last weekend the former World Judo
Champion came and worked out with the kids class. No
hitting or kicking allowed in Judo. There is a wonderful
mix of people involved in the club. Kids come from all
over. The monthly fee is $60, which mainly goes towards
overhead and other club expenses. It's not a business. Its
a club. They let you try out a class to see how you like
it. Right now they are having a membership drive. Hope to see you there...we are very
pleased with it. Judy
Martial arts class for 5 year old?
I'm looking for a spring martial arts class for my five-
year old son, located convenient to the north Berkeley area.
We'd like a once-a-week class, preferably on a Saturday.
Has anyone found a good class for a martial arts novice?
Thanks. martial arts newbie
I would recommend Capoeira Mandinga at 4096 Piedmont Ave in
Oakland. They offer one day kids classes on Saturday (ages
3-5 from 12:00 - 12:45 PM and ages 6-12 from 12:00 - 1:30
PM). For first time students only, you can get a discount (1
class / $13 or 3 / $26). My son age 6 (who just recently
started) attends both classes. He really likes it a lot and
practices at home with his friends. Check out their
website: http://www.mandinga.org/welcome.html. I hope to
see you there. Sass
My son started at Berkeley Kuk Sool Won on Sacramento when
he was five and stayed with it through his black belt and
It was a great experience both for him and for us.
Kuk Sool Won is very similar to Tae Kwon Do. I'd recommend
KSW of Berkeley (on 2438 Sacramento at Dwight), run by
Thomas Brewer. He's particularly good with the younger boys:
kind, ethical, and extremely experienced. I've seen a number
of ADHD kids there and he's been able to teach them a great
deal about Kuk Sool and perhaps more importantly, about what
it takes to learn a sport of this kind.
You and your son can take a free trial class and see whether
it's a good fit or not. Just call Mr. Brewer at 540-8070.
My son started in the cubs class at Golden Lion Martial Arts
school when he was 4 years old. They teach kung fu. The
cubs meet twice a week - Thursdays at 5:30pm and Saturdays
at 12:00pm. The teachers are amazing enthusiastic, patient
and caring. My son was shy and hesitant to participate in
group activities when he started. 3.5 years later, he has
risen in the ranks, progressed to the intermediate level
class with kids older than him, performed by himself at the
Solano Stroll and other events as well as generally built
self confidence and discipline. He absolutely loves going
to class, learning new forms and feeling proud of all of his
accomplishments. He continues to love and respect his
teachers and I can see that martial arts will be a part of
his life forever. Good luck finding the right program for
your child. We checked out many and this one felt right
from the start. Their website is: www.goldnlion.com. And
of course feel free to contact me if you have any specific
Our 6 year old son has been diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome
& ADHD and has had a lot of problems socializing with other
kids because of his tics and poor impulse control. Add on
learning disabilities and he has had a very hard time at school
and summer camp, always in trouble and now very depressed. He
loves to be active, has done yoga in the past, and is good at
sports. Some people have recommended he do aikido or another
martial art to encourage focus and self control. Could this be
a positive experience for him or would it be setting him up for
failure & frustration? Are any particular activities or
instructors especially good for kids with these kinds of issues?
I would talk to the chief instructor/owner of East Bay Aikido and
ask him what he thinks. They have some wonderful instructors
there for the kids' classes, starting from age 5 or 6.
Aikiko would be a good activity for your son, in my opinion.
It's an non-aggressive form of martial art, and I think
especially excellent for children, as it teaches them how to
resolve conflict without resorting to violence.
My husband trains there and my son goes occasionally. The dojo
is located just off of Park, on Leimert Blvd. The Sensei's name
is Tom Gambell. Here is the info: 510 531 0303.
I would check out West Wind karate school on University just above Sacramento. They
have been wonderful with my son who has challenges with learning, focus and impulse
control. The phone number is 841-1426.
Hi Berkeley Mom, I want to recommend Studio Naga to you and
your son. They are on San Pablo Ave in Oakland near the
Emeryville border. They practice an Indonesian form of martial
arts called Poekoelan, but I recommend them not because of the
particular kind of martial arts (although this one seems very
accessible to even quite young kids) but because of the nature
of the studio itself. It is a very supportive and nurturing
place (although the folks their are also very serious about
their practice and set high expectations for the kids who work
out there). There are a lot of kids involved, all different
ages, temperments, talents, and backgrounds. My 7 year old ADHD
daughter studies there and it has been great for her. She gets
what I had hoped she would get from martial arts study
(discipline, self-control, respect, perserverence) but
additionally everyone there is especially attentive to respect,
inclusiveness, and a sense of responsibility for each other. I
really appreciate the diversity of people there, the fact that
the studio is operated by a woman, and the fact that kids and
teenagers are represented in all ranks of practice. This last
factor means that age has little to do with rank: you often see
a 15 year old black belt instructing a 35 year old white belt.
I see kids really thrive on the fact that their hard work can
earn them real, significant respect -- respect that translates
into adults taking them seriously. The young people then rise
to the occasion and use their position (their rank) to
seriously respect, teach and care for their juniors (younger
kids, but also anyone junior in rank). As a result, you see
lots of kids who I suspect are awkward or don't quite fit in
other environments (my daughter has a lot of social troubles)
really developing a sense of self, pride, and maturity. I am
extremely impressed by the young people there and know they
would include and respect your son. They also have regular
events for kids (a ''kid's night out'' once a month, a summer
camp) which allow the kids to continue to build community among
each other. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions.
Hi. We have a 10 yr. old w/both adhd and ts. He's been doing
martial arts (kung fu) since about age 7 with great success. His
tics diminish when he's moving and concentrating and he seems
more organized after classes (2x week for 1 hour each).
www.goldnlion.com (no ''e'') in Albany. I'd think Aikido would be
great as well; I like that both forms work on the being one's
best self as opposed to pure fighting or self-defense (eg.
non-aggressive). Good luck.
Martial Arts Family
Aikido of Berkeley, run by Sensei Kayla Feder, is the most
welcoming and nurturing place imaginable. Sensei manages to
provide an atmosphere in which all are encouraged and none of the
kids are unkind to each other, seemingly without ever having to
raise her voice or speak sharply. While my son was attending
aikido classes there, his confidence increased visibly, as did
his physical coordination. I saw kids who might be ''loners'' or
''outcast'' in other settings, who were accepted by the group and
whose strengths were celebrated instead of having their
weaknesses highlighted. I can't speak highly enough of Sensei
Feder or the program she has created. You can see a bit more
about the program at www.aikidoofberkeley.com, but I'd personally
recommend that you go watch a kids' class to see what you think.
Aikido for children
I am looking for a good place that offers Aikido for children ages
5 and 7 years old in the Berkeley, El Cerrito, Albany area.
My kids took lessons from Sensei Kaela at Aikido of Berkeley.
She is *wonderful* with kids. She pays attention to each child, gets small groups
working efficiently with each other, teaches respect and persistance - I can't say
enough good things about her. The dojo is temporarily in north Richmond, but easy to
get to. Call her at (510) 412-9999. Her website is www.aikidoofberkeley.com Pat
You can check out the Berkeley YMCA. They have a Saturday 2 to
3:15 pm youth Aikido class. Reasonable cost.
Non violent martial arts for 10 year old
I am looking for a non-violent martial arts classes for my 10 year old boy.
He tried a few when he was younger but they were ''way too strict'',
according to him. I heard about aikido, but my son wants to ''spin in the
air'' like in tae kwan do or kung fu. He does not want to scream at all,
though . I think he wants to be an under cover super hero type, able to
do flips and such.
Can you recommend anything in Oakland or Berkeley, or even Lamorinda? Rec
center classes would be fine, too. Thanks!
mom of young Batman
Yes! Our kids school has classes in Capoeira which is a Brazilian
martial art that combines gymnastics, dance and martial arts. It's
stunning to watch and very moving.
Another very non-violent martial arts ''mash up'' is called Kajukembo (I
hope I spelled that right). It's a mixture of Karate, Jiu Jitsu and
some other martial arts and is really approachable for kids. I remember
seeing a class at destiny Arts Center.
My almost 11 year old has gone to Kuk Sool Won for several years. He
will have his black belt within a year. Tom Brewer, the instructor,
demands respect from his students but from my perspective he is not
strict (my son may tell you differently, of course!). Mr. Brewer's
expectation is that the kids try their hardest, do their best, and work
hard. Kuk Sool Won has a big focus on defensive moves (throwing) as well
as offensive, but I've never felt that it is ''violent.'' Being involved
in Kuk Sool Won has helped my son's confidence, stamina, and character.
I really cannot recommend Mr. Brewer and Kuk Sool Won enough.
2438 Sacramento St
Berkeley, CA 94702-2130
Hi How about Capoeira. It's more a of a dance than a true martial art
but kids love it and it's great for building self comfidence and
movement. When your child gets older he or she might move to another
form. There are many good teachers out there teaching many different
forms you may need to go to a few classes until you find the right one.
If your son wants to fly through the air, he might enjoy Aikido. The Uke
(attacking person) sometimes flies through the air. The Nage (person
being attacked) does the non-violent response. You can see an Aikidoist
training with a Kickboxer on YouTube at
Come to East Bay Aikido (www.eastbayaikido.com) to check out some
classes. If you take your son to a kid's class he will probably not see
many people taking to the air. He might if you take him to an adult
You might want to look into Tai Chi Chuan - it is a martial arts and
therefore has martial arts applications but its focus is more on
connecting mind and body and cultivating stillness and relaxation. There
are classes at Tai Chi Chuan Berkeley in West Berkeley. To find out more
please see: http://www.taichichuanberkeley.com. Hope this helps...
Check out USA Kung Fu Studio in Alameda. It has many Chinese
instructors teaching traditional kung fu. They are excellent with the
kids, their style is beautiful and may have that fluid ''superhero''
quality your son is looking for (as opposed to rough, tough, and rigid
power of other styles). They have a great website, so you can show your
son the style shown on video clips - he won't be flying in the air until
the upper belts, though.
Hi~ I think if your litte bat man still wants to participate in
Martial Arts then Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the most non violent martial
art. It is a martial art that uses grappling techniques which enables
practitioners to subdue opponents without the use of kicks and
punches. The name ''Jiu-Jitsu'' translates to gentle art. There is an
excellent kids program in Alameda, www.teamsilvabjj.com My friends
son is in the program there and loves it.
Berkeley Weekday Karate for 8 year old?
Hi. I have seen some older posts, but any new info on weekday Karate classes
for an 8 year old boy, preferably in Berkeley? Thanks.
Of course, it depends upon what you are looking for from martial arts
but I don't think you can do any better than West Wind Kung Fu on
University, just east of Sacramento. They offer a tremendous peer
group of male and female martial artists, all ages. The kids learn
discipline and respect along with tremendous physical skills. Our son
has been in the system for more than ten years and his skills are
Berkeley Kuk Sool Won on Sacramento is a great place for kids to
My son went for many years.
Re: Gymnastics for 4-year-old
I have a four and a half year old son who also is not the most
coordinated or the strongest guy (would much prefer to look at a
book). Anyway, we have been looking at and trying classes for a
couple of years now.
So, recently (about 3 months ago) we tried martial arts at Bay
Mountain Martial Arts on Grand Ave (near Safeway) and we LOVE
it. The Sensei (teacher) is very focused on the kids. He knows
all of their names from day one. It is AMAZING how much our son
has changed is such a short time. They are working on ''life
skills'' not just martial arts. Each week has a different focus
(coordination was this week, then there are things like memory,
self control, discipline, focus, etc.). They have a whole
thought through system that really motivates the kids. The
preschool teachers also cannot believe the changes he is making
esp in terms of his confidence and his abilities on the
Best of luck!
Karate classes for kids & parents
I'm looking for a place around Berkeley/El Cerrito that holds
joint Karate classes for kids and their parents, preferably
during the weekend. Any recommendations? My daughter is 6 years
old and we are both beginners.
Check out West Wind Karate School on University just above
Sacramento. They let adults and children study together and they
have done a wonderful job with my son. The phone number is 841-1426
My daughters and I began attending the Kuk Sool Won of Berkeley on
Sacramento Street in 1999, when my girls were 7 and 9 years old. This
was the best decision I made for an activity we could do together.
It's now some ten years later, and one of my daughters still attends
classes when she's home from college. My other daughter moved on to
soccer and other sports, but will always be benefited from her years
studying Kuk Sool Won. The school owner, Thomas Brewer, is highly
competent and caring, and this form of martial arts is one of the
most comprehensive. Another unique and wonderful thing about Kuk Sool
Won is that it's grandmaster, In Hyuk Suh, is still alive and
actively touring to spend time with students at the Berkeley school
and all around the world. I love the fact that many girls and women
students attend this school, and that students are very supportive of
one another. You can get a free trial lesson and meet with the school
owner at 2438 Sacramento Street in Berk!
eley by Dwight, or call 510-540-5425 The web site provides more
information at: http://www.berkeleymartialarts.com/
Karate or Kung Fu for preschooler with language delay
I would like to get some advice on Karate or Kung Fu for my 4.5
year old son. He is a social and very sweet boy with a mild
language delay. We were told that doing Karate or Kung Fu would
help him focus and in turn, could help him focus better when
Does anyone have good suggestions for Karate or Kung Fu in the
Richmond, El Cerrito or Albany areas?
Golden Lion Martial Arts on San Pablo (Albany) has been fantastic
for my language/speech disabled son. www.goldnlion.com (no ''e'')
The Cubs class is fun, structured, and a great start. I'd observe
a class and talk w/Sifu David to see if it'd be a good fit.
Which martial arts class for high energy 10 year old?
Hi, my 10 yo son wants to try martial arts but I have no idea what the
differences are among them! Could someone please explain the
differences, including instructional styles (if that varies by type
rather than by instructor) and also recommend some places in
Oakland/Berkeley? I guess I'd consider other East Bay if it were the
perfect class. We live near Lake Merritt. If it helps narrow the field,
my son also enjoys fencing & gymnastics and is, shall we say, high energy
and not terribly self-disciplined. OK, not at all self-disciplined!
Don't Know Dojo
You have a wonderful neighborhood dojo, Pitts' Martial Arts
Academy on Lakeshore. My son studies Tae Kwon Do, which
emphasizes kicking, forms and sparring. Capoiera also is
taught at PMAA. It's more dance-like.
I suggest doing some research online for different styles and
types of martial arts. I know that BPN has some prior
recommendations, and Yelp has a number of results that will
come up if you search ''Martial Arts'' and ''East Bay''.
I have recently begun taking classes at Kuk Sool Won in
Berkeley under instructor Tom Brewer
(http://www.berkeleymartialarts.com). Each class (for
beginners, anyway)is largely composed of children. Mr. Brewer
is very patient but firm, and does a great job of interacting
with kids with short attention spans and difficulty focusing.
It's been inspirational to see how proud the children are when
they succeed at something he's taught them. Kuk Sool is a
Korean martial art that combines three different styles of
traditional martial arts and emphasizes physical fitness,
self-defense, and discipline.
I highly recommend the dojo, but I know there are a lot of
places out there to evaluate. My recommendation is to try a
class or two at each dojo to evaluate fit, tone, level of
exertion, etc. And be sure to ask about costs for
''graduation'' (to a new level), accelerated programs, etc.
Martial arts for ''difficult'' child
Can anyone recommend any kind of martial arts teacher who is really good
with ''difficult'' kids?
My 9 yr old son gets easily frustrated and anxious when things don't go
how he expects. He can be easily distracted and very disruptive in a
In addition to his therapy, I'm hoping something more physical could help
him with his focus, breathing, pent up aggression, bouts of depression.
But I need to find a teacher who can deal with his issues either in
private or small classes.
My son is head instructor at West Wind karate on University - a
top-notch school. I credit his martial arts training from a
young age with giving him extraordinary discipline and amazing
physical skills. I know he has a loyal band of parents who
would do almost anything for him because he has turned their
children around and kept them on track. They go way beyond the
physical. Check out http://westwindschools.org/
My son goes by the name ''Mr. Shah'' at the school and you can
tour the school, talk to him and see how you feel about it. I
also love that there are many strong, wonderful women in the
school and much respect all around.
Ken Pitts, a former probation officer, is good with children
with challenges. He teaches Tae Kwon Do and Capoiera for
children and teens at Pitts' Martial Arts Academy on Lakeshore
in Oakland. He does private lessons, which might be a good
place to start before joining a class. If it's a good fit,
it's a great dojo.
I think any well-taught martial art in a reputable center would
be very good to build esteem and instill discipline. But you
might consider Judo. No chops or kicks. It's about using your
opponent's body weight to his/her disadvantage. East Bay Judo
Center, San Pablo, El Cerrito, just sent someone to the 2008
i highly recommend berkeley kuk sool won, which is located on
san pablo and dwight in berkeley. tom brewer, who owns the
school, is a master teacher and works well with all kinds of
kids and adults. my 11 year old son has been going there for
more than 5 years, he is now a black belt and the experience
has been wonderful for him in every way. kids and adults are in
the same class, so parents can go to if they want to. check it
Family martial arts classes
My Husband wants to take Judo or Karate classes with both our
kids. Anyone know a class set up like this in the ElCerrito,
Albany, Richmond area?
Berkeley Kuk Sool Won has classes that parents can attend
with their children, which is a wonderful way for parents and
kids to get fit together, while improving strength,
flexibility, and mental clarity. Kuk Sool Won of Berkeley is
a traditional Korean martial arts program which combines
tribal, Buddhist temple, and royal court martial arts
techniques in the most comprehensive martial arts program
I've seen -- itbClass in Lamorinda for 7-year-olds truly unsurpassed. I've been going to
classes with my daughter for the past eight years, and it's
helped keep me in shape well into my 40's, while my daughter
benefited in all sorts of ways. I give Berkeley Kuk Sool Won
my highest recommendation -- and you and your children can
try it for free by contacting Thomas Brewer at 2438
Sacramento Street (at Dwight), Berkeley, (510) 540-5425.
My seven-year-old son is interested in learning martial arts.
I checked the archives and information is outdated (last
posting 2005). I would love to hear from others about
experiences (positive and negative) you and your children have
had with dojos and/or martial arts classes in the Lamorinda
area. Thank you.
A good friend of mine told me she and her kids are totally happy w/ their
discovery of Karate USA. The instructor she said is very grounded, a
father of a child who goes to our local school, and she said her kids LOVE
It turns out Tom, the owner of Karate USA, is also health conscious and
facilitated a nutrition talk by a local ''expert.'' In addition, he
recently joined Parents for a Safer Environment at our annual meeting/party
and will be working to improve environmental health issues in our local
community and county. I'm sold on him, too. My friend said he charges one
rate, something like $100 for the entire family, and as often as you want
to work out, so it's a good deal if you have a couple of kids!
My son is not particularly coordinated or athletic, but he loves sports
and is just reaching the age where his lack of natural ability is
beginning to show in comparison to his peers. His dad and I were thinking
that a martial art might help his focus, coordination, and confidence, but
I'm not sure which martial art he should try. And reading over the
archives, I'm wondering if my ideas about the wonders of martial arts
might be off the mark (I have a dance/yoga background and was assuming the
benefits would be similar). So here are my questions:
would a martial art be helpful?
If so, which one?
And where is a good, mellow place in the Oakland area to take classes?
I recommend Destiny Arts. My 7 yo daughter is doing martial arts (they combine a
variety of styles) there and really likes it. She's in a class with kids of all ages
and abilities and it has lots of adults working with the kids as well. They really
work with the kids on discipline and focus. Destiny Arts has a great philosophy and
are really positive and supportive of the kids doing their best. They're strong
around community and respect. They're in Oakland in the same building as North Oakland
Community Charter school.
Their website: http://destinyarts.org/
I am looking for references for a good martial arts studio in Richmond,
San Pablo, El Sobrante area. I am thinking of enrolling my 4-year son.
I checked the archived and most recommendations were only for Oakland,
Berkeley, Albany etc.
Karate or not
I can highly recommend a karate dojo in El Sobrante on Appian way. It is a
small dojo, with a very good instructor.
Here is their web page: http://uechidojos.com/dojo.html Camilla
My 5 year old is expressing a lot of interest in karate. Are
there recommendations for karate studios in Oakland. Also
what types of karate do you suggest for a 5 year old.
Hi. I practice karate at a dojo in Richmond (on the El Cerrito border)
called Shotokan Karate Institute (SKI) www.shotokan.com. The style of
karate is very traditional. I would recommend this dojo, as the sensei
really seems to help kids channel their energy and learn discipline, but
without being harsh. I have seen kids practice at other dojos and learn
to be violent, but here the focus is on self defense and self discipline.
If you are interested, please check out the website and stop by during one
of the kids classes. I'm not sure what age they recommend for kids to
begin classes, but you can ask them when you visit.
I'm not too familiar with the martial arts thing, so I'm not sure
if what I'm asking for even exists or is feasible. I'd like my
two boys (ages 6 and 9) and myself (a 40-ish y.o. woman) to learn
a form of martial arts, mainly for self-defense. We'd all be
beginners. I'd like to do this in an ongoing way, rather than in
a workshop format, so we can continuously develop and improve
skills we have learned. The challenge for me is to do this
without having martial arts classes for all our age groups take
up all of our weekly schedule--if each of us are in separate
classes and attend twice a week, that's six martial classes per
week among the three of us! My boys are already involved in
another after-school activity, so we're reluctant to add on
anything else that takes a ton of time commitment. They still
need to do their school work and we all want to be able to sit
down and eat dinner together every night at a decent hour. I
know learning a martial art form takes a certain amount of
commitment as one progresses, but how does one do this in a
manageable way, without sacrificing all other activities? We're
already a very physically active family so the risk of being
sedentary if we don't do martial arts is not very high for us.
So, what I'm wondering is:
1--Is there a place that offers beginning ''family'' martial arts
classes once a week, preferably on a Saturday morning or afternoon?
2--Are the martial arts classes for kids and adults offered at
the Downtown Berkeley Y worthwhile in terms of learning useful
self-defense skills (not just about having fun and exercise)?
3--How do people pursue martial arts if they cannot commit more
than one class per week, but are willing to continue consistently
over a long period of time?
4--Recommendations for a martial arts studio in Berkeley that
fits what we're asking for (self-defense, understanding of
limited time commitment, family friendly)
5--How do prospective students gather information about schedule,
price, commitment before walking in, as to avoid a ''hard sell''
once in the door, especially if a studio doesn't have a website?
Looking for family martial arts
I highly recommend the aikido program at the Albany Recreation
Center with Maida Sensei. He has over 30 years teaching
experience with adults and children. Aikido isn't just about
self-defense, it's about maintaining balance, stabiiity and focus.
He will teach kids as young as six and he does encourage parents
to be on the mat with their kids. I started 8 years ago when my
daughter, than 8 years old, watched a class and wanted to join.
I've been training ever since. I've seen other families join and
stay with it for a long time, and really gain a lot from the
experience. He also has a dojo just 10 minutes from the rec
center. You could probably attend a class there as well on a
Saturday if you were with your kids. Please feel free to contact
me if you have any questions. You can also visit the web site at
Come by and visit the class at the rec center every afternoon
(except Thursday) from 4-5.
Berkeley Kuk Sool Won has classes for families; kids in afternoon
and parents in the evening. My son went there from age 4 until 16.
I run a studio in Emeryville on San Pablo Avenue that successfully
incorporates children into some of the adult classes in the
evening and on Saturdays. I have many families that work out with
their children and everyone seems to get what they need. I also
have seperate classes for adults and children.
The main issues in mixing ages is the attention level, ability to
ramp up the workout and size considerations when pairing up to do
exercises. This can be managed in a mixed group by pairing like
sizes and agreeing as a parent to be responsible for partnering
with your child if no similar sized person is available in class.
It is understood that to join an adult class you must be able to
sustain yourself for the period of time the class runs and
maintain appropriate focus.
My school is a a family martial arts center. I have been teaching
for over 25 years. Most of the kids working out with the adults
are more advanced in rank because of the time they have spent
training. Frequently the younger and lower ranked children attend
at least one children's class to be with their peers and enjoy the
easier pace of a children's class. It also builds camraderie and
community. Once a week these kids attend class with their
parent(s) in order to share the workout experience and make
efficient use of everyone's time.
If you would like more information about my school, you can visit
my website www.skillsforsafeliving.com or call 428-1979.
I hope you find a great place to train! My family trains with me
and it has been a fabulous experience.
Sensei and mom of 2 great kids
I am interested in starting my kids in a martial arts class of some kind,
but I don't know anything about martial arts. I would love info and
advice about different options (tae kwon do versus karate versus ...?). I
would also love any recommendations of studios in Berkeley or Oakland --
we live near Rockridge/Elmwood.
Aikido is a nonviolent martial art that teaches no attacks, only defenses. At East Bay Aikido,
it is taught by gentle, funny, understanding teachers, and the kids love it. They teach taking
care of your adversary so that no one gets hurt. It's a really fun way for kids to learn
self-defense. No competition or sparring. I take it as an adult, and my son loved it as a
Tues and Thurs classes for all kids, and Mondays for girls only.
I'd be happy to talk to you about it. East Bay Aikido is on Liemert, near Hwy 13 and Park Blvd
in Oakland. Easy parking, easy access.
When looking for a martial art it's important to choose a school that's a right fit for your
child. There are many
reasons to put your child (or yourself!) in martial arts.
Some of the main reasons are: to build your child's character and self-esteem, teach them
explicitly how to set goals and reach them, provide realistic self-defense, and finally it
should be FUN!
My recommendation is to try out several schools and find one that is a good fit for you and
your child's needs. Since you don't have a background in martial arts, it's best to do what I
did, which was ''shop'' around.
Martial Arts should be regimented but it should also be fun.
Your child should look forward to class and be able to articulate what they learned in their
class that day. There should be evidence of a curriculum and a progression of levels
so that the kids learn to set a goals. Also there should be a
strong sense of community amongst the students, teachers, and parents so that you both feel
As far as your question about styles, every style has their own advantages and disadvantages.
I've taken many martial arts in the past, Tae Kwon Do, Jeet Kune Do, Japanese Ju-Jitsu,
Aikido, Arnis/Escrima (Filipino Stick fighting), and Kickboxing. I can tell you personally
that as I was ''shopping'' around for a style that fit me, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stood out over
all the other styles.
I found that I wanted to focus on a style that could be NON- VIOLENT (it's impossible use
kickboxing or karate without risking seriously injuring someone), but was still very effective
(I found in my two years of Aikido that it doesn't really work well against a resisting
opponent). Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu answered every what-if question I had.
I am a former Oakland elementary and middle school teacher, I can tell you that many children
instinctively want to PUNCH or KICK when they get angry. Why try to reinforce that behavior
by showing children how to punch or kick properly? I prefer Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because it is
more about controlling your opponent than bludgeoning them with your fists.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches how to fall, how to perform throws and takedowns, self defense
techniques, and groundwork. We learn how to wrestle and avoid getting punched. We play Jiu-
Jitsu related games and learn to tumble, cartwheel, and handstand.
I teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Gym-Jitsu (a combination between gymnastics and jiu-jitsu for
the younger kids) over at Rocha Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Oakland.
If you have an interest in my program, we are located at 3600 Grand Avenue in Oakland near the
Grand Lake Theater and
Piedmont. Our website is: oaklandbjj.com
After over three years, my kids (now 8 and 11) still look forward to every one of the 5 (yes,
five) classes they go to over three days each week at Hoa Sen dojo for Coung Nhu. Now that
they are in high enough ranks to be in classes with adults, I started, too. I have done few
things in my life better. Try out a class for free! http://skillsforsafeliving.com/ Ruth
I cannot educate you about different types of martial arts, but I can highly recommend MODERN
COMBATIVES on University Avenue.
My son is in the 3 1/2 year-old class (mostly games and learning about safety around
strangers). Our instructor, Lily, is great and my son has learned a lot of basic body
Plus, I have watched the 4 1/2 and 5 year old class and the instructor, Alan, is fantastic.
He is engaging and kind. It is a great environment!
I want through this search a year ago. I asked many friends who's children were enrolled in
various forms of martial arts at various locations. I decided upon Kuk Sool Won on Sacramento
& Dwight Way in Berkeley. Mr. Brewer is the owner and instructor. The kids love him and learn
a lot - martial arts and discipline. He is strict, kind, and funny. My 6 year old daughter has
been going there since August. She loves it! She is learning so much: martial arts skills,
being a good person, discipline. Again, I can't say enough good things about Mr.
Brewer and Kuk Sool Won. The school can be reached at 510-540- 5425.
Check out Easy Bay Aikido (eastbayaikido.com). We studied there for a while before our lives
took a different turn. Aikido is a martial art that focuses on protecting both the attacker
and the defender (more disabling moves and not so much kicking and striking to injure/kill).
It's gorgeous to watch the fluid partnership of advanced practitioners.
I'm pretty lazy and I found falling a lot amazingly fun.
Tom Gambell brings just the right energy - encourages learning at your own level/pace, not
perfection oriented but will coach on the nuances, nice community feel to the adult classes at
least (haven't been to the kids classes). Some older kids train with the adults, nice age
My kids have been taking Aikido since kindergarten (one is 13 and one 9) and Berkeley Aikikai
on San Pablo is the only USAF certified in the area. We love this place. Firstly, Aikido
teaches wonderful principals that are not necessarily based on confrontation. You are taught
to ''move out of the way'' and that failing, then how to use and redirect another's energy
with low impact on your own body. you also learn to fall without injury.
Adult black belts warm up with the kids which is GREAT. The adults and instructor are all
warm and kind. Class is on Saturday 9am for 1 hour and is very very reasonably priced. Good
I am looking for a martial arts school that would be
appropriate for my eleven-year-old son. He has learning
differences, and is not as coordinated and athletic as a lot of
boys his age. So, a school that is not competitive would be
best. I am especially looking for a teacher who is
understanding and would be encouraging to someone like my son,
who might require more time to remember and integrate different
patterns of movement.
A school that emphasizes the philosophy of the martial art, and
which has more of a gentle approach would be best. I've heard
that Aikido might fit this description. I am not familiar with
the different martial arts at all, and would greatly appreciate
help finding a good teacher/student fit for my son.
We live in Albany, so a school in the Berkeley, Albany, El
Cerrito area is ideal.
you might want to try kuk sool won in berkeley on sacramento ave/dwight. it might
be a little bit of a drive for you, but if you head down sacramento from your side of
town its not so bad.
tom brewer, the owner, if very patient with the kids. its a non-combative style and i
have seen kids with down syndrom in there. not that your son has that, but it shows
that he is open to all kids and treats them equally, yet with patience and
understaning when necessary. unfortunately my kids have opted out of going and i
got tired of forcing them, but i wish they would continue. i think its a great
I'm looking for a good martial arts class for my 5 year old boy in the Oakland/Berkeley area.
There's a wonderful martial arts program for kids in Berkeley that is comprehensive enough that they can
enjoy it all their lives; it's called ''Kuk Sool Won,'' and it's wonderful for five year olds. Having
studied martial arts for many years, and having met many martial artists over the years, I chose carefully
before enrolling my children in a martial arts program. Kuk Sool Won of Berkeley is a traditional Korean
martial arts program which combines tribal, Buddhist temple, and royal court martial arts techniques in the
most comprehensive martial arts program I've seen -- its truly unsurpassed. Kuk Sool Won has some things
in common with other Korean martial arts, such as Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do, and Hap Ki Do, and is
characterized by a combination of hard and soft styles, joint locks, fluid movements, and low stances. My
daughter started Kuk Sool Won training at age 9 and continues to take classes now that she's a first degree
black belt. Parents and their children can train together at Kuk Sool Won, which I've enjoyed doing for the
past seven years with my daughter. In addition to teaching children physical self defense, owner and head
instructor and fifth degree black belt Thomas Brewer provides instruction on how to maintain mental
clarity, integrity, self discipline, loyalty, and respect, and is a very positive role model for all
students. Annual tournaments include black belt demonstrations, competitions between local Kuk Sool Won
schools, and an opportunity to see the most highly skilled practioners of this extraordinarily
comprehensive martial arts system. I give Berkeley Kuk Sool Won my highest recommendation -- and you and
your child can try it for free by contacting Thomas Brewer at 2438 Sacramento Street (at Dwight), Berkeley,
East Bay Aikido is absolutely the best martial arts training place for kids. It's a nonagressive form of
martial arts led by the most caring, funny, gentle teacher, Tom Gambell, and others.
There's a girls only class on Monday afternoons, and the regular kids classes are Tues and Thurs
afternoons. I train there as an adult, and my chid went for several years. It's on Leimert, just off Park
Blvd. in Oakland, really easy freeway access and parking. The phone no. is 510 531 0303. Call and have a
chat with Tom about the program.
A wonderful place to learn a martial art is at Rocha Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu in Oakland. The main
instructor, Stephan Goyne, is also a second grade teacher (at
Whittier elementary) and a genius with kids. He's expert at
tailoring the instruction to the child's needs and abilities.
He's given my skinny, timid son strength and self-assuredness
that I never thought he'd possess, and boosted my shy
daughter's confidence, and helped her see herself as strong,
graceful, and in control of her body. My roly-poly
kindergartener has developed much more body awareness and
coordination. All of them really look forward to the classes,
and beg me to sign them up whenever Stephan organizes a ''kid's
night out.'' Stephan's other strength is building children's
self-control, responsibility, and social skills. I'm impressed
with his ability to keep track of every child in his very
diverse class, and address that child's needs. Unlike some
martial arts classes my children have taken, there's neither
bored waiting around nor frenetic activity and chaos. Stephan
has a gift for getting all the kids to play by the rules. They
get a really good workout, a consistent and healthy philosophy,
and systematically build their skills.
The schedule of classes has flexibility built in, with students
allowed to vary their attendance among several weekly class
meetings. If you decide not to sit and watch the entire lesson,
the Grand Avenue/Lakeshore neighborhood has lots of
attractions, including the Saturday farmer's market.
Some descriptions of the classes, a schedule, and Stephan's
contact information are here:
So glad we found this place!
I highly recommend Stephan Goyne, who teaches jiu-jitsu to my two
boys (5 and 12) and one of my daughters (9). He handles children
well (with respect, calm, humor, and consistency), and is quick
to establish a personal relationship with each child. Plus, he
is an effective teacher: as my 12-year-old son put it this
morning, Stephan is a good teacher because he always gives a
clear description of the purpose of the move and its mechanics,
he demonstrates it multiple times, and doesn't move on until all
the children have started to get the hang of it. And, my son
adds, he doesn't let one or two children misbehave and spoil the
class for everyone else. Stephan teaches two classes on Saturday
for kids: 10:30-11 for the youngest children, and 11-12 for
bigger children. He also teaches a 5-6 pm class on Tuesdays and
Thursdays for the older children. As a customer, you commit to a
month's worth of lessons, but you are not locked into only
Saturdays, or only Tuesdays or Thursdays -- you can go to any of
Hi! We just moved to Orinda and I am looking to sign my 5 old
year son up for martial arts classes. Any recommendation would
be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
My children have taken Tae Kwon Do for two years at the Academy
for Martial Arts in Walnut Creek (right off the Mt. Diablo exit,
across from Pier 1). They run an excellent program, and really
take an interest in the child's whole development. Their web site is
www.tafma.com. I am sure you could take a couple of classes on a
trial basis to see if it is a good fit for you
I would like to recomend The Academy For Martial Arts for your son. They are actually in
Walnut Creek, but right off of 24 on Mt. Diablo Blvd. so extremely convienent-in fact many
of the students there are from Lamorinda. The teachers are wonderful-
they strike just the right balance between discipline and fun. They also just won ''Best
Martial Arts classes in the East Bay'' from Diablo magazine
I highly suggest you try them out.
I wanted to get some feedback/advice on my experience with West
Wind Karate in Alameda Recently, we walked into West Wind
because my 4 year old son was very interested in Karate. I went
in to get a price sheet was told they need to make sure the
child is ready, that its the right fit, etc. so a few sessions
were complimentary. We scheduled 4 lessons and my son did great,
we were so proud of him. lesson 3, they had him practice
the ''white belt'' ceremony and told him that if he passed
his ''test'' that he would get his white belt and to bring
friends/family/video cam. To say the least, there was A LOT of
build up. I asked again about prices and was brushed off. My son
did the test then they brought us into this formal back room and
talked about how he did and how they wanted to make sure that we
were there for the right reasons, etc (flattering us and our
son). They said the program was 17 weeks (2 sessions per week of
30 to 45 min) and there were two levels of instruction- Sensei
and instructor level. Then they said (as if it were completely
reasonable), ''So, for the Sensei level the cost is $1,700 and
for the instructor level it is $1,200. Which one of those will
work for you?'' I walked out of there completely disappointed
and felt like I'd just taken part in a time-share pitch. Is it
reasonable to think that they might give you an idea of the
price before you start this whole trial thing. Do you think it
was their intention to get your kids hopes up and then bank on
you not wanting to disappoint them. I had to deal with my son
convinced that he didn't pass their so-called test because he
didn't get his white belt (since we couldn't afford to sign him
up). Also, I got the feeling that there was a lot of
negotiating room and that they high-balled it, which seems
unfair. I see a lot of parents and their kids go in there and I
can't imagine that they all pay that much. Anyway, what I'm
wondering is if I'm out of line to feel like it was a scheme to
lure me in. Also, I feel pretty upset with the whole process and
I'm not sure if I should mention anything to them about it.
Thoughts? Anyone else attend West Wind?
You are right that the karate studio is out of line. That is extremely
to build up your son's hopes like that and make you look like the bad
guy for not
shelling out a lot of money isn't right. The idea of moving your child
up a rank
before they've done any real training is ludicrous. My husband and
trained in karate for about 7 years now. It's been a long time since
my kids had their
first lesson, but I think the first two lessons were for a set price
to see how it goes,
then you can sign up for either private or group lessons, or a
train at Oakland Karate on Broadway near Piedmont. I know people that
kids to other dojos and I've never heard a racket like you describe
No Go on that Dojo
I had to re-read your post to make sure I got that figure right.
17 weeks for $1,200 or $1,700? Are they kidding? This sounds
completely fishy, scammy even. I would investigate them, see if
they have whatever appropriate licenses they require from the
city, check on them and/or report them to the Better Business
Bureau and ask other karate schools how their prices compare.
And as you say, it also sounds like a completely manipulative,
passive-aggressive sales technique to make you feel bad for
disappointing your son. Might be the occassion to teach your son
about rip-off merchants and learning to stand up for yourself. If
you didn't sign anything you owe them nothing. (And you may owe
them nothing even if you did sign something.)
Very annoyed on your behalf!
That doesn't sound reasonable or professional to me. My son went
to Berkeley Kuk Sool Won from before he was five until he was 15.
They always told us upfront the price for a year (which was less
than the price you said West Wind quoted for 17 weeks).Plus
students could take multiple classes in a week. All kids start
out as white belts and progress through the belt system. The kids
work hard, earn their belts, and really learn Kuk Sool. Tom
Brewer, owner and master teacher at the school is really great
with the kids
Your story is familiar. Your child wants to start a karate
program and you give West Wind a try. After a few free lessons
they hit you with a huge fee. I know this story well as my son
and I attended West Wind for a few years although we paid much
less than the prices you listed (our child price was around $900
for approx 35 private lessons and unlimited group classes). The
training is actually pretty good but they always pressure you to
pay more. There are other really good martial arts dojo's in the
area that are much less expensive. You should read this
This is a very long thread about West Wind from other
knowledgeable martial arts students and you can get a good feel
for the type of training and the troubles and successes some
people have at this school
You are exactly right - the karate school's sales pitch is
engineered to make guilty parents sign up right away. I used to
be a karate instructor, then a district manager for a local chain
of karate studios and it's a slimy business, with sales pitches
lifted directly out of old boiler-room sales manuals. Many large
chain karate studios use these gimmicks. Also watch out for test
fees - you'll pay an additional fee for every belt level your son
advances to ($35-$50) and for uniforms and other gear.
You can definately negotiate - they operate like lame car
dealerships. Go at the end of the month and offer cash. Ask about
a monthly rate. Ask them to 'throw in a testing fee'. Ask if you
get a discount for paying in advance. Offer 1/2 of what they are
asking. Ask about a cash discount. If it's all too slimy for your
taste, keep looking - there are studios out there that have
simple monthly fee schedules (about $60/month for 3x a week -
even that's negotiable sometimes). The complimentary lessons are
great if you're not sure your child is ready to pay attention in
class, or if he really wants to do it. Seems like you are already
past that point so don't take any more 'complimentary lessons'
until you know the fee schedule.
But, the good news is that no matter what you might feel for the
administration/sales end, your child will still have a great time
and learn a lot. Sign your baby up - he'll love it and thrive!
There are many, many, many schools to choose from so have fun!
It's a scam. You should be proud of yourself for walking out of
there. Reputable programs tell you what they cost up front.
I was a West Wind student for six years. They were once an
excellent school that has lost their way. It is all about the
money now. You can e-mail me if you want further
information/feedback. It is sad that a school that once did so
much for the young people of Berkeley has become what it has
I am really sorry you had this experience. You are correct in
feeling like this was a total sales pitch, because it was.
Unfortunately, this is a common practice among martial arts
schools, many of the studios operate this way-they get you
hooked so it's really hard to say no-especially to a 4 year old-
in fact, I'm surprised they weren't trying to get you to commit
to a 1 year contract.
Fortunately, not all schools work like this-I own a studio in
Walnut Creek, and we certainly don't.
My best advice to you going forward-go by yourself and watch a
class for your child's age group. If you like it, set up an
appointment to talk to the instructor/director about prices
BEFORE bringing your son. Once you are happy with the school,
bring in your son.
Additionally, $1,200 - $1,700 for a 30-45 minute class twice a
week for seventeen weeks is ABSURD. You should be looking at
paying that amount PER YEAR-even in this area, and most places
should allow you to pay monthly-even if they want a year
commitment. Feel free to email me if you have any further
Your experience at this martial arts ''McDojo'' was NOT
acceptable in the eyes of someone with 26+ years of martial
I could rant for quite a while on the unacceptable practices
you have described, but all of your alarms are correct, it
should not have been handled that way. Anyone with a sense
of propriety would have never handled it that way. If they
have nothing to hide, they would tell you how much lessons are
why not? They would also let you sit in on several
classes and watch to determine if the class would be good for
your child, and if the instructor is the correct type for your
As a side note, In my opinion, a four year old is way too young
for martial arts. I personally will not teach children under
5-6, unless the child is very mature.
If you are still interested, look into a kendo school in your
area, they are still run as nonprofit, the instructors do not
get paid, and their association does not let people below 4th
(Side Note)4th Dan is a rank that some people call 4th degree
blackbelt. Contrary to popular belief, Blackbelt is not a
rank. Just as a sergeant has several chevrons on his
shoulder, he is not called a three chevron. Seargent is the
rank, the insignia of the rank is the chevron.
For kendo you can go to
Another martial arts school with people who are very good with
children is at the following url.
My daughter and I visited several dojos before we selected one.
Some of the Karate dojos are more money oriented while others are
not. I recommend Kojoso Karate in UC Village, Albany. The head
instructor, Ken Koba, is a nice, soft, and real martial artist
who is dedicate to teach karate, and it is not money oriented
program. It is affordable. After summer, they have a camp, and
their grand master comes to teach everybody, although it is rare
that grand master teach beginners. Also I was amazed by the
beauty of their Kata, such as crane, tiger, and snakes. Your son
might be too young, but you can ask when your son can start
Mother of pre-martial artist
Archives were a little old on this...Looking for a martial arts
class for a 4 year old in Alameda (or real close) that would be
good for motor skills, balance and discipline. I need something
that a working mommy can do- so either a friday or saturday
class or soemthing in the early pm. Thanks.
Hello, try Pokoelaan in Oakland. It's not far from Alameda; I
believe they're located on (or around)San Pablo Ave, downtown by
the whole Home Depot area. It's an Indonesian martial arts
program based on animals, so the kids' classes are
extrordinarily captivating; they mimick the animals' walk, etc.
My son tokk their courses and they earn belts, etc. The
instructors are POSITIVE and engaging. They put on events in
the studio, focus on postivity and respect and are like a
family. It is AWESOME!
My recommendation is to forget about martial arts for a year or
two. Instead find out if she'd like a dance or tumbling class.
Those will give her strength, balance, and coordination. Then,
in just a year or two, she can decide if she'd like the martial arts.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against the martial arts. I have
been studying and teaching martial arts for over 40 years. One
of my daughters started martial arts when she was 5; the other
when she was 8. Both daughters had to use their martial arts on
their trips to and from Berkeley's public schools.
But I think that 4 years old is a bit early. Unless your
daughter begs you to let her join a martial arts class, I'd
recommend some other activity.
Old Martial Arts Person
Are there local martial arts studios that provide classes for
the entire family? Our family includes a 4.5 and 7 year old
plus two relatively limber parents. We live in Oakland.
martial arts wannabe
The most important thing about a martial arts class is that it
fits ones personality. It's a tall order to ask for a class that
fits all the personalities and degrees of maturity of a whole family.
My recommendation is to shop very carefully for a class that fits
your CHILDREN. In my opinion, a children's martial class should
be lots of fun, and it should include a bit of quiet time and
attitude shaping. Nothing else matters much. Least of all the
martial art itself. Any martial arts class will give your
children more than enough martial arts.
Once you've found a class for your children, ask them to teach
you what they've learned. Set up your own mini-practice sessions
at home, and do the forms and techniques with them. These don't
have to be very elaborate. Five minute sessions are quite
enough. You'll find that you've learned something, and by your
actions and attention, you'll show your children that you value
been there; done that!
Baker's Martial Arts Cultural Center on Park Blvd in Oakland's
Glenview is a great place for kids and adults to learn Tae Kwon
Do. My 7 y.o. loves it. And the adults (from beginners to
blackbelts) seem really happy with it. They offer separate kid
and adult Tae Kwon Do classes and adult cardio kick boxing.
Much emphasis is placed on positive encouragement, mutual
respect, and discipline; which makes punishment virtually
unnecessary. We're very impressed with the teachers.
I am looking for a karate class for my shy 7 year old to learn
self defense and develop confidence. Would like supportive
atmosphere, not boot-camp! He is not interested in Akido, or
other forms other than classic karate.
Kuk Sool Won of Berkeley has a great program. My son started
martial arts at age 7 and is now a black belt at age 14 (he
actually earned it at 13) and continues to attend the black belt
sessions. Sir Thomas Brewer and his wife Eunice own and operate
the school and I couldn't recommend them more highly. Sir
stresses values, discipline and respect (among other things) and
has been a great instructor.
I work for the Berkeley YMCA. We have a martial arts for fun
class that is starting next week on Wednesday afternoons. The
instructor, Terri Giamartino, is very good with beginning
students. She also has her own dojo that some students graduate
to later on. For more information, feel free to give me a call
at 665-3238 or check out our website www.baymca.org.
I would love to recommend Berkeley Cuong Nhu Karate, 1819 San
Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 94702 (between Hearst & Delaware).John
Burns is the head instructor and offers classes for kids as young
as 4-5, 6 & up are in the kids class, there are teen & adult
classes. My son has been there going on 4 years now as a teen and
has gotten a lot out of it-confidence, movement skills, ideas of
respect and many opportunities to move forward in karate skills.
Kids & parents are appreciated there. The studio is clean and
nice, the instruction is step-by-step, no pressure and I don't
see frustration there. The kids warm up with a game and
excercises before learning/practicing skills. Your son can try a
class with no obligation. Let them know when you want to try it
out by calling 510-526-4880.
I would like to find some martial arts classes for my 3YO daughter that focus on
strength, discipline and physical awareness and not fighting. My daughter
can be challenge to keep still and quiet so I also need a teacher with a magical
manner or who understands children with extra personality. Thanks.
Studio Naga in North Oakland offers martial arts classes for kids of all ages. They have
a 3-5 group, and a 5 and up group. Parents can train in a class that goes on at the
same time as the kids class. The classes are fun and active.
Looking for current recommendations for a Taekwando class for
my 10 year old daughter. Also, if anyone has any feedback for
Kenneth Pitts Martial Arts Acadamy and Alameda Taekwando.
We are in Richmond, would prefer to stay in the east bay.
My 11 year old daughter started taekwondo when she was
9. She watched the classes for several months before she
started (my son, 7 at the time, was going twice a week) and
it has been positive for both kids. They are physically and
mentally stronger for it. They attend Pitts Martial Arts
Academy on Lakeshore Ave. Mr Pitts is a phenomenal
teacher and can inspire all kinds of kids at all ages and at
all levels. He manages to combine high expectations,
kindness and humor. He cares how well the kids are doing
in school, what they've eaten for breakfast and that they
understand what it means to be a ''good'' person in society.
We like that it matches up with our own family values but I
see that it is also helpful for kids in transition.
Re: Martial Arts Summer Camp (March 2006)
Pitts Martial Arts Academy is excellent with kids. My son
attended the summer camp when he was 12 and really enjoyed it.
Ken Pitts is great at working with all ages at all levels. My
son has taken martial arts there for 4 years and is a member of
the Black Belt Club. Whether you're interested in something
fun for your child for the summer or are checking out the
program for more, PMAA is a good choice.
My son loves to wrestle and play ''fight'' in good spirit. Is
there a class out there for him at this young age? I find that
other kids aren't as keen to roll around with him, and if he
could channel this type of energy elsewhere, I think he would
really enjoy it! He's in a gymnastivs class, but it's not quite
I saw a studio on University ave. near ANdronico's, called
Modern Combatives, and they have a class for little
ones, ''modcom Dinomites''. Does anyone have experience with them?
Thanks in advance.
Mom to a jackie chan wannabe
Our 3 year old son has been attending Modern Combatives for
about 4 months now. We actually found them on Craigs List.
Their ''Baby Dinos'' class meets on Saturday mornings and Monday
evenings. Their philosophy is ''Fun not Fear'' which is nice.
They basically play for a half hour while learning basics like
balance, wrestling safely, kicking, punching, and they even
meditate at the end (sit, close their eyes and count to ten
slowly, then bow and say Thank You). Our son absolutely loves
it there. We actually live in Walnut Creek but make the drive
because we like it so much. Right now, there are about 5 boys
and girls in the class. Lily and Alan (husband and wife) are
the instructors and I cannot say enough good things about them.
They are 100% on the kids level and have unlimited patience.
I would strongly recommend checking out their website
www.moderncombatives.com for more information.
My 4 year old son has verbalized interest in karate classes.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a karate school in
Lamorinda, Oakland or Berkeley? My son prefers to be in a
smaller class, where he gets ample positive and constructive
feedback from his teachers. And if you are recommending a
school, at what age did your child begin karate? In my mind, I
would have thought martial arts would be more appropriate at
age 7 or so at the earliest... Thanks in advance for your
Seeking a good fit for my son
My six y.o son has been taking karate classes for the last two
years and we are very happy with his instructor. Dara Connolly
of Albany Karate for Kids is great with the kids. She's patient,
supportive, but with the seriousness and discipline of a blackbelt.
The classes are small (in a cosy room at the Albany Rec Center),
non-aggressive, with minimal body contact. Each class is started
with a few minutes of meditation. The kids are encouraged to
help/support each other and have memorized sayings like ''the goal
of success will lead to success.'' My son is clearly not a
natural at karate, but loves learning and has made much progress.
Shirley, proud mama of an orange belt
I HIGHLY recommend DragonFly Karate in Berkeley. My son
started when he was 5 1/2 and he loves it. The instructor is
awesome and classes are both one on one and small
group. This is serious martial arts (they progress through
the colored belts) balanced with philosophy, discipline and
good behavior skills. My son has gone twice a week for a
year now and shows no signs of slowing down.
I suggest email Mr. Boone at ''boonechai AT hotmail.com'' or
calling at 776-0040
Kuk Sool Won of Berkeley has Mighty Mouse classes for younger
children. I'm not certain what the age requirements are but you
could contact Sir Thomas Brewer at 510-540-5425 and the address
is 2438 Sacramento, Berkeley. My son started martial arts at
age 7 and is now a black belt at age 13. I couldn't recommend
this school highly enough. Sir stresses values, discipline and
respect (among other things) and has been a great instructor
over the past 6+ years. The school is owned and operated by Sir
and his wife Eunice. If you would like to discuss this further,
please feel free to call me at 510-559-6056 (w) or email me with
any questions you may have.
Modern Combatives in Berkeley is wonderful. They are located on
University Ave. next to Andronico's. They teach preschool
martial arts through play. The instructor, Lily, is amazing
with the children. Aside from being a black belt, she is also a
lisenced family counselor. Our son has been attending for about
5 months now and we love it. They have a website
My son was almost 4 when he took up Tae Kwon Do at Yu's Martial
Arts in Lafayette. Master Yu is fantastic with the children. He
also offers private classes. He is willing to start them as young
as 4, but willing to make exception on a kid by kid basis.
3371 Mt. Diablo Blvd
Lafayette, CA 94549
yo son is very aggressive, both physically and verbally. He's
prone to frequent meltdowns, rage attacks, verbal lashing-out,
etc. We are working with various mental health professionals
to diagnose and treat him. Additionally, though, I think the
right martial arts program may be beneficial for him.
I'm looking for something that will help him direct and channel
his aggression/physical energy/anger in a positive way and,
hopefully ultimately teach him self-discipline and to respect
himself and others. My worry is that the wrong program may
make him more aggressive, so I'm mostly concerned with the
philosophy and approach of the teacher rather than the actual
style of martial art.
Ideally I'd like to find a teacher (who has to be a man -- my
son is very gender-conscious these days) who has worked with
difficult boys and tries to inculcate positive values in his
students. It would be great if the teacher could be a positive
role model and mentor to my son. (My husband and I are trying
our best, but we need all the help we can get!) Any
suggestions would be most appreciated.
You should try DragonFly Karate in Berkeley. The instructor
is awesome and if you tell him your needs, I would bet he's
the man for the job. My son has been taking karate there for
a year now and he loves the instructor and is in awe of him.
My son can be a very intense child and he gets tremendous
pleasure and sense of self out the lessons. They are a
balance of serious martial arts, philosophy, self-discipline
and repsect for others. There are both one on one and
small group. Mr. Boone, the instructor, is a VERY
commanding presence while being funny and gentle and
super encouraging with his students at the same time.
Call him at 510-776-0040.
Hi - I sent my kids to Martial Arts of America when they were
quite small (I think the twins were in kindergarten and my son
was in third grade). It was a great program - really about
character, discipline, respect for parents and teachers. Here's
the web site http://www.maakarate.com/ , hope this helps -
Please look into judo. It has all the martial art discipline and
structure, but the emphasis is on self-defense, not kicking
and/or punching. Sorry I don't know of one in particular.
My son, who is 3.5, has lots of energy and is really interested
in karate, etc. He is very physically able and not frail at
all. Is there a place where I could take him to learn any kind
of martial arts? Or, is there a place that does ''Mommy and Me''
martial arts classes? Thanks in advance. We live in Alameda,
but open to all locations.
Check out North American Martial Arts Academy in Alameda - they are on Webster I
think. I am not sure how young they take kids as a matter of course, but I do know
that they are open to trying to work with youngsters. Being able to follow directions
I think is the biggest concern. Ask to speak to Sifu Sam, the owner. Tell him
Marielle suggested you give his school a try.
try destiny arts center in oakland. their martial arts start
from 3 y/o.
I have a 5 year-old and I'm interested in getting him into
karate. Does anyone have experience with good places
in Oakland. Thanks
Karate lessons in Emeryville,
I don't kow where in Oakland you live, but I am located on
San Pablo Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets. I teach a
style called Cuong Nhu which is a blend of karate, judo and
aikido. You are welcome to join us for a free trial class to
see if it is a fit.
My complete schedule can be found on my web site
Inexpensive, Quality Karate classes can be had at the Redwood
Heights Recreation Center. It's $35 a month for two lessons
karate/martial arts class for my 4 yr old
Hi. I am looking for a karate/martial arts class for my 4 yr
old son in Oakland. I checked the archives and found mostly
recs in Berkeley. I would like to find a fun, relaxed
environment where the teachers are experienced with working
with pre-schoolers. Thank you.
Destiny Arts Center
Cuong Nhu Hoa Sen Dojo (2)
I am looking for a Karate class for my 5 and 7 year old girls in
Oakland. I thought I had read several recommendations for West-Wind
on this posting. I can't describe how turned off I was by
these people. Clearly they cared more about sucking me in and
extracting my money than they did about teaching my kids
Karate. Talking to small children about kidnappings, refusing
to discuss the price of classes with me, and asking me for my
social security number AND driver's license number for no good
reason... amounted to nothing but used car sales techniques.
Any other recommendations for a Karate studio in Oakland?
Doesn't have to be fancy, just good.
Aikido of Berkeley W. Berkeley
Cuong Nhu Hoa Sen Dojo Emeryville
Cuong Nhu Karate Redwood Dojo Oakland
Kuk Sool Won Berkeley
Redwood Heights Recreation Center
West Wind Karate Schools
My 8-year-old took karate classes - Tang Soo Do was the style -
in LA for three years. She would like to continue with Tang Soo
Do, but in the recommendations on the web site I don't find that
Does anyone know of a place in Berkeley/Rockridge where Tang Soo
Do is offered? For kids?
Alternatively, is anyone familiar enough with the various styles
to help me convince her that another style is similar? In
reading the recommendations, I didn't find a particular place in
Rockridge that sounded really high quality, yet fun, for kids.
I hate to let her quit karate after she's worked so hard....
Kuk Sool Won
Can anyone recommend a good and supportive martial arts studio or class in Alameda?
Both of my sons are interested in learning karate or other form of martial arts. They are 14
(almost) and 9 years old. Thanks,
Alameda Martial Arts
My son is interested in ''karate'' and I'm trying to compare the
different kinds of martial arts available. I don't know
anything about this and I'm lost among all the choices! I
have checked the website archives. I have called the places
recommended on the archives, but their times and locations
don't work well for us. Does anyone have experience with
the Korean martial art, Kuk Sool Won? (we will go try a
class at 2438 Sacramento, Berkeley). I would very much
appreciate hearing if you have experience there, or advice
about this form of martial art, or any guidance about how to
learn about the different martial arts. Thank you!
Cuong Nhu Karate Berkeley
Cuong Nhu Hoa Sen Dojo (2)
Kuk Sool Won (3)
I am looking for a good martial arts class for my five-year-old daughter
to help her with her balance and motor planning issues. Does anyone
have suggestions? The classes would have to be on the weekends or in
Cuong Nhu Karate Berkeley (2)
Golden Lion Martial Arts School
United Studios of Self Defense
West Wind Karate Schools (2)
Aikido of Berkeley
phone (updated Jan 2006) 866.236.0346
Re: Karate Studio in Oakland for 5 & 7 year-olds (Dec 2002)
It's great to see so much interest in martial arts among people
engaging the needs of children. Kayla Feder (Chief Instructor -
Aikido of Berkeley) and myself (Brandon WilliamsCraig -
Director - Beamish Process Arts) provide a childrens' program at
Aikido of Berkeley in Studio 12 at the 8th St. Studios in
Berkeley (Dwight and 8th St.) The dojo website is
We are both upper level Aikido yudansha (blackbelts) with years
of teaching kids and adults. Kayla Sensei has been studying
Aikido since she was 9 years old, and I include an age
appropriate Conflict Resolution component that extends martial
art into the non-physical and internal realm. As one of the
first children diagnosed with Hyperactivity/ADD I have a unique
perspective and gifts to offer children with difficulty
Aikido is the only martial art of my acquaintance designed from
the ground up to transform the cycle of violence rather than
perpetuating it. Unlike most combative and percussive styles it
doesn't train anyone to attack in response to being attacked.
I'd be more than happy to talk about the applied developmental
needs of children in this context by email or phone.
I will make sure all calls not answered by office staff forward
to my cell phone for a week or two after posting this.
I hope your season is full of good gifts.
Re: Judo School in Berkeley - I know of no Judo school in Berkeley, but there is a
respected Judo program that meets at the Albany YMCA. It meets on Monday and
Wednesday evenings. Contact the Y for more information.
To the parent seeking worthwhile martial arts for a 15 year old:
My son is 12 and just started studying judo this year at the Albany Y.
This is a very highly regarded program, thoughtful and well taught, and
they have excellent senseis for the beginners (and the advanced students,
too). All ages practice together, from 9 to 90-something (when "Old
Sensei" shows up). I highly recommend it. They meet on Monday and
Wednesday evenings, from 7-9. It's excellent discipline, and rigorous
physical and mental exercise, for both males and females, and people of all
Alameda Martial Arts
Re: Martial Arts studio in Alameda (Oct 2001)
I strongly recommend Alameda Martial Arts on Encinal. The art is called Kuk Sool Won
and the head of the school is Erik Lee. He is great with kids and is a 4th degree black
belt. Good luck and have fun
From: patricia (Dec 1997)
For those folks in Oakland and Alameda, Alameda Martial Arts
is also a Kuk Sool Won School run by Kyo Si Nym - Erik Lee, 3rd degree
(could be 4th now?) black belt. My husband goes to this school and Erik
has a fantastic group of kids (at least 30+ in different stages of belt
advancement). The techniques and discipline are better explained and the
kids seem to respond to the methodology quite well. Every 8-12 weeks all
the belts "test" and if all goes well they are promoted to the next level.
It is very inspiring to watch 5 and 6 year olds do some of the same
techniques my own husband had to do for his belt and the level of skill
achieved is impressive.
Berkeley Martial Arts School
From: patricia (Dec 1997)
I understand that the national martial art of Korea, Kuk Sool Won, is a
wonderful method. The Berkeley Martial Arts School on Sacramento at
Dwight, run by Tom Brewer, has a special kids' class that is appropriately
called "Mighty Mites". Stop by and check it out, it is really fun to
Brincadeira Viva Academy
I highly recommend "Brincadeira Viva" run by Carlos Hill. He is a
wonderful teacher and gives the kids much more than just classes.
There's a community spirit that draws the kids together, with older kids
helping younger kids and such. You can call 528-2133 or 5277-0214.
Brincadeira Viva Academy has a martial arts daycamp running into late
August featuring capoeira as well as Far East martial arts. Staff speaks
Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish and English. Call 528-2133 or check their
(May/June 1999 Berkeley High School PTSA Newsletter)
Capoeira Arts Cafe
In response to the person requesting kid capoeira classes I can recommend
the Capoeira Arts Cafe, 2026 Addison in Berkeley, 666-1349. A friend of
ours trains there and her daughter has taken classes there for years. Our
family frequently eats at the Cafe. Everyone that we have met have been
very friendly and kind.
The Capoeira Cafe in downtown Berkeley has classes for children (though I'm
not sure of the starting age). If you are in Oakland, Alice Arts Center
downtown also has some classes. The Capoeira Cafe, though, is an
exceptionally nice space. I believe Albany Village also offers classes to
Cuong Nhu Karate Berkeley
Re: 5-year-old son wants to take "karate" (10/02)
I recommend Berkeley Kuong Nhu Karate on San Pablo near University
for any age kid. My 10-year-old daughter has been there for 4 years
and I expect her to continue at least into her teens because she is
happy there and proud of what she is learning. Sensei John Burns is a
great teacher who stresses discipline and integrity as much as
strength and flexibility and still manages to make it fun. The other
teachers are his advanced students and they have all integrated his
methods to some degree.
Re: Class for 5-year-old daughter to help with balance (Nov 1999)
My five year old daughter and 8 year old son go to the Berkeley Cuong Nhu
Karate school on 1819 San Pablo Ave. They have a special class for the 4-5
year olds at 5:00 p.m. on Tues/Thurs and Sat. a.m. around 9:15 a.m. The
woman instructor is very good with kids, and teaches safety (they've been
learning their phone numbers lately) as well as more traditional martial
arts stuff. They can then "graduate" to the older kids class when they are
6. Their number is 526-4880 and I believe you can try a class for free.
Re: Class for 5-year-old daughter to help with balance (Nov 1999)
Our daughter spent several years in Tai Kwon Do back in the midwest, and
we asked her teacher there what to look for in a new school when we
moved out here. He said the style was not important - the key was to
find a school where she would continue to have fun, get good exercise,
and respect/like her teachers. In our experience, the key is that the
school have a routine that is engaging, because it takes years for kids
to really develop their skills, and they have to really want to stick
We ended up talking to about 15 schools on the phone, visiting 7, and
she took trial classes in three. We found several that were way too
oriented towards self-defense/fighting. A couple that had very boring
instructors. Two that had terrible facilities (smelly, cramped, dark).
One that seemed more like a marine boot-camp for little zombies. We
ended up walking into Berkeley Cuong Nhu (on San Pablo) and instantly
feeling like it was the right place.Great facilities. Good mix of fun
and discipline; no contact practice, lots of variety to the styles, and
willing to recognize how hard it is to start over as a white belt! We
continue to be happy after a couple of months.
Our son attended martial arts classes for several years at a wonderful dojo
on San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley, Cuong Nhu Karate, 526.4880. It offers
classes specifically for teens but the adult classes may also be
appropriate. The number of teens varies in any given class, there are
usually a core of regulars that work through the levels together. Great
conditioning, and though sparring is taught, the focus is definitely on
form and control not "fighting". Very thoughtful, interesting teachers.
Cuong Nhu Hoa Sen Dojo
Re: Karate Studio in Oakland for 5 & 7 year-olds (Dec 2002)
I am sorry you had such a disappointing experience with West Wind.
After reading your post I thought you might want to check out my martial
arts school. It is very low key. I teach kids a few times a week and only
charge a monthly fee - no contracts, no long-term obligations. If you are
not happy, you leave! I am located in Emeryville, with very easy access
from 40th St., the highway and from central Berkeley. I have about 40 kids
all different ranks, some of whom have been with me since kindergarten and
now as teens help teach some of the kids. The classes are fun, energetic
and create social bonds with everyone involved.
I also teach adults in the evening and there is opportunity for children to
work out with their parents. If you would like more information, you can
visit my website or call me at 510-845-1416. Good luck.
terri Giamartino terri at skillsforsafeliving.com
Re: 5-year-old son wants to take "karate" (10/02)
You inquired about martial arts for 5 year olds. I am a parent who
teaches in Emeryville and have classes specially designed for 4-5 year
olds. We focus on coordination, safety, and very basic blocking,
punching and kicking along with using our voices effectively. We play
lots of games to teach these skills and keep the class size small (usually
6-9 kids). I teach a style called Cuong Nhu which is an eclectic blend of
arts, primarily judo, karate and aikido. I have many years of experience
teaching in afterschool programs all over Berkeley as well as in my own
dojo. If you'd like more information, please call at 510-845-1416 or visit
my website at www.skillsforsafeliving.com Good luck!
Re: 5-year-old son wants to take "karate" (10/02)
I highly recommend Cuong Nhu Hoa Sen Dojo located in
Emeryville. The school is woman-owned, which is pretty
unique, the class sizes are small, so the kids get lots of
personal attention, and the owner and main instructor is
fabulous. I have two kids who attend classes there and it's
hard to get them to leave after class. They have learned
things that I thought they would never be able to do, and
have gained a real sense of accomplishment in the
process. The classes are a good mix of fun, hard work,
relevant philosophy and goal setting. My children are ages 7
and 8, so they attend a different class from the 4 and 5 year
olds. The younger kids are taught more age appropriate
material with the emphasis on fun and learning
coordination and team building social skills. There is
almost always at least one assistant instructor from either
the adult class or advanced kid's class. The sensei is Terri
Giamartino and she has taught kids in the Berkeley and
Kensington school districts for many years. She currently
also teaches at the YMCA in Berkeley. The dojo web site is
http://www.skillsforsafeliving.com or you can call 845-1416.
Good luck. Maybe we'll see you there!
Re: Fun martial arts class for a 4-year-old (Oct 2002)
My son really liked taking karate lessons from Terri Giamartino.
She is a mom with two youngsters at Washington School. She has
taught afterschool programs there and has her own dojo in
Emeryville right across from the FED EX. Same place the
Emeryville Taiko practices. Reasonable price. Easy parking. She
makes the lessons fun and informative. Always some running
around at the end for the younger kids.
Re: Fun martial arts class for a 4-year-old (Oct 2002)
I teach martial arts classes in Emeryville with a special class for 4-5 year
olds on Tuesdays at 4 pm. My school is Cuong Nhu Hoa Sen Dojo. If
you would like more information, please feel free
to call me at 510-845-1416 or visit my web site for more information
www.skillsforsafeliving.com. You can always come by and try a class for
free. Good luck!
terri at skillsforsafeliving.com
Cuong Nhu Karate Redwood Dojo
Re: Karate Studio in Oakland for 5 & 7 year-olds (Dec 2002)
Please check out Cuong Nhu Karate Redwood Dojo, 524-1328. I
don't know their address but they are in Oakland. Deedee, the
head sensei, is the wife of the head sensei at my son's dojo in
Berkeley. Given that, I would expect her to be open about how
she teaches and listen to your past experience. The Berkeley
Cuong Nhu dojo lets you take a couple of free lessons to see how
you like it; you could ask if the Redwood dojo has a similar policy.
Golden Lion Martial Arts School
Re: Class for 5-year-old daughter to help with balance (Nov 1999)
One of the most disturbing things I found when looking for a martial arts
class for my two kids, then 9 and 11, was the mixture of styles form many
"martial arts" studios have. I find it disturbing because each style,
whether it be karate, gung-fu, tai kwon do, etc, has it's own history,
philosophy and culture from which it began. I find that mixing the various
forms and techniques tends to water down the integrity of the style. The
one gung-fu studio I found that does not do this, and is one of the few
traditional style studios around Berkeley (located in Albany across the
street from the University Village) and has classes for kids ages 5-teen is
Golden Lion, where they teach traditional Choy-Li-Fut style gung-fu. This
style does not rely on physical force for effectiveness. It incorporates
elements of tai chi-internal energy, balance and mind-body coordination,
self-awareness as well as self-defense. My kids love the teacher, Sifu
David Dong. He's great with kids and makes learning fun and they get a
good workout each session. I highly recommend Golden Lion. They have a
young children's class from 5:30-6:00, I'm not sure which days of the week.
1031 San Pablo Ave (at Marin)
If you are looking for a martial arts studio that stresses form check out
Golden Lion in Albany.
One of the most disturbing things I found when looking for a martial arts
class for my two kids, then 9 and 11, was the mixture of styles and
form many "martial arts" studios have. I find it disturbing because each
style, whether it be karate, gung-fu, tai kwon do, etc, has it's own
history, philosophy and culture from where it began. I find that mixing
the various forms and techniques tends to water down the integrity of the
style. The one gung-fu studio I found that does not do this, and is one of
the few traditional style studios around Berkeley (located in Albany across
the street from the University Village) and has classes for kids ages 5
through teens (also offers adult classes) is Golden Lion, where they teach
traditional Choy-Li-Fut style gung-fu. This style does not rely on
physical force for effectiveness. It incorporates elements of tai
chi-internal energy, balance and mind-body coordination, self-awareness as
well as self-defense.
My kids are in their second year of classes at Golden Lion, and love the
teacher, Sifu David Dong. He's great with kids (including teenagers),
makes learning fun and they get a good workout each session. I highly
recommend Golden Lion.
1031 San Pablo Ave (at Marin)
For an excellent martial arts experience, definitely consider The Golden
Lion Martial Arts School at 1031 San Pablo Avenue in Albany. There are
classes for every age and ability level, and the master is exceptionally
talented, both in his own skill, and in his respect and challenge to the
students. The emphasis is definitely on form and focus. Call Sifu David
Dong at 527-1606.
My daughter, now 17, went in search of just the right place for martial
arts training when she was 11, and found it here. Kung fu has been the
primary motivation in her life since she began with it. . . discipline,
form, strength, focus, challenge, confidence, accomplishment,
responsibility, loyalty, fun, friendship . . . It has all been there for
her. She is now an instructor, as well as being a student there, working
out as many days and hours as she can possibly squeeze into her week. Go for it!
King Afterschool Judo Program
From: Melissa (Nov 1998)
A very good program at King that almost no one knows about...
KING AFTERSCHOOL JUDO PROGRAM OPEN FOR BEGINNERS (Thusdays, 3:00 sharp
until 4:30; meet at the office in the "vollyball" gymnasium.)
Alan Pagle, the head teacher (sensei) of the King afterschool judo
program, hopes to add beginners to his small band of slightly more
experienced King judo students. Pagle Sensei, a young Berkeley police
officer, assisted by other volunteer black belts, including his wife
Lilly, has devised a careful and exciting program fit to beginning
students. All uniforms, except for long T-shirts required for women
players, are provided at no expense. Alan Pagle's voice mail:
510-644-8770, ext 200061 + # key.
This judo program is for all sizes and shapes of students wishing to
begin instruction in this traditional Japanese martial art and
self-defense method. Judo provides much more than sports skills.
Judo begins with teaching balance and how to fall, skills useful
throughout life. Additionally, judo provides a fun way to achieve
overall body fitness, respects all sorts of body types, leads to ease
in physical matters and emphasizes a sort of respect and discipline
that its not commonly found in middle school students. Check it out.
From: Beth (4/00)
A wonderful woman-owned place for teen girls is Laurel Juijitsu in the
Laurel district of Oakland, on MacArthur Boulevard between 35th Avenue
(Redwood Road) and High Street. The owner and primary teacher, Joann,
regularly offers free introductory classes in self-defense, including some
for moms and daughters. For a schedule, call 530-5043
Kuk Sool Won
[Editor Note: Kuk Sool Won of Berkeley was briefly also known as Martial Arts of America.
It no longer goes by that name.]
Re: Karate Studio in Oakland for 5 & 7 year-olds (Dec 2002)
I highly recommend Kuk Sool Won either in Berkeley or
Alameda. Both instructors are great with kids. My son is 13
and has been going to the Berkeley school since he was 5.
Re: 5-year-old son wants to take "karate" (10/02)
My daughter is six and has been attending Martial Arts of
America (Kuk Sool Won) Dwight and Sacramento with Sir Tom Brewer
for two years. She started with the Mighty Mites when she was
four and will be testing for her brown belt this month. At
first I thought she wouldn't do well as she was not very
coordinated but with Sir's help and her desire to do better she
has blossomed and is very enthusiastic about Kuk Sool Won. I
like that Sir not only teaches the physical movements but also
teaches the values that the martial arts stand for:
responsibilty, balance, leadership, integrity, etc. We hope to
start our son when he turns four.
Re: 5-year-old son wants to take "karate" (10/02)
My son attended Martial Arts America (Sacramento & Dwight Way)
since he was 5 years old. He is now 14 and a black belt. He
started way back when it was still called Kuk Sool Won. My son
never felt that Sir (Thomas Brewer) was ever intimidating. It
has helped my son a lot, he is VERY independant and focused.
Sometimes TOO focused, but that can be a good thing! Anyway, I
recommend it highly. Currently we are taking a break from Kuk
Sool because of school demands, but hope to be returning in the
If your son would like to talk to my son about it, please feel
free to e-mail me.
Re: 5-year-old son wants to take "karate" (10/02)
I am the mother of two boys, one of whom (now almost 8) has been
attending Kok Sool martial arts classes at the Sacramento St.
Martial Arts of America school for two years. It has been a
wonderful experience for him. ''Sir'' (Thomas Brewer) is very
effective at getting the students to focus, try their best, and
listen. He can be a bit intimidating to the kids, which has
been a good balance for my son whose school enviroment is
informal -- this way he has a least one class that is very
structured, fairly formal and demanding, but not so much so that
it seems harsh and unfriendly (as I've seen at other martial
arts schools). We go the minimum expected, which is 2 days a
week. It has improved my son's ability to focus and his
confidence in himself. While there have been hard times, when
he has wanted to give up, Sir and his wife have worked with me
to gently encourage him. I strongly recommend it. It is a
nice, diverse, friendly community to get involved in. I do not
know how it compares cost-wise with other schools. It is not
inexpensive by any means. I see it as an investment and it has
paid off already.
Re: Seeking Tang Soo Do class for 8-year-old (Aug 2002)
Please call the Kuk Sool Won on Sacramento (540-5425).
Kuk Sool sounds like a similar or transferable form of
Korean Martial Arts, with many of the additional lifestyle
elements described in the Tang Soo Do website.
The people who run the school are great. The school has
good programs designed specifically for children of all
ages. It is a great way for your 8 year old to get to know kids
with similar interests, in a safe and respectful environment.
The school is located at Sacramento and Dwight in
Look at Kuk Sool Won on Sacramento St (at Dwight), a small school
owned by Thomas and Eunice Brewer. The teachers are good, and are
good people. They like and understand kids. Kuk Sool is a Korean
discipline that will look like karate to you, but also emphasizes
health and lifestyle discipline. Excellent for kids and teens. I
think the number is 540-KICK but if not, its in the book.
Redwood Heights Recreation Center
Re: Karate Studio in Oakland for 5 & 7 year-olds (Dec 2002)
Didi Goodman at Redwood Heights Rec Ctr in Oakland offers
classes for each level of age and experience from 4.5 yo to
adults. Classes are either once or twice a week. Once a year you
get to participate in karate tournament in Berkeley where you
get to either follow a std program or use your own imagination
in designing your presentation. There is also a Sat morning
program open to all students in all of her classes, so you get
to work with students at levels different from your own to get a
This works great for our 6-yo daughter!
Re: Self-defense class for 18-year-old going off to college
I highly recommend Studio Naga in Oakland. They are a
martial arts studio that also teaches self defense.
Female instructors teach awareness and give non-verbal and
verbal tools in addition to the obvious physical tools.
What I like is that there are males involved in the self-
defense trainings to simulate situations to practice all
skills. It feels ''real'' and when it does tap into
something personal, the support is respectful and
5850 San Pablo Avenue
I second the recommendation for Studio Naga as a fantastic
place for self defense classes for teens! (and younger
kids as well!) I have seen 1st hand the grumpy teenage
girls, hanging back and giving attitude at the beginning
and by the end, they are transformed! Yelling and
empowered with their body language shifted to say, ''don't
mess with me!'' Great stuff!
I highly recommend Studio Naga and their martial arts camps. My kids
for two years and are excitedly awaiting to go for their third year.
starts out with some fun games to warm up and followed by martial arts
Every afternoon there is an exciting event or outing planned ~ Asian
swimming, zoo, indonesian cooking, bowling ~ and that was just one
The staff is amazing with a low student/teacher ratio. The learning is
not just about
martial arts...there's compassion, respect and community. For more
call Studio Naga (510.652.6242).
Re: Karate class for 4 year old boy (3/05)
Just yesterday we attended classes at Studio Naga (on San Pablo, in Emerville) in
Poekoelan, an Indonesian martial art. My 4 year-old attended the ''Jungle Gym''
class, which sounded like a fun play class but was actually quite a bit of martial arts!
It was totally fun, my son LOVED it (especially the kicking and punching while
shouting ''Do!'') and begged to return. I've never seen him so quiet and focused on
anything like this (besides the TV)! The children actually get ''tested'' on skills, to
earn a belt and various patches - one thing that particularly impressed me was how,
in both his class and the one my older son was taking, all the children had learned
to assume a stance, holding both hands up, palms out, and say, forcefully, ''STOP!
Leave me alone - I don't know you!'' The older age group was just as impressive - all
the children (of various ages, 6 - 16, I'd say) were totally engaged and focused, not
one did I see goofing off. Since it was my older son's first time, he shared a mat
with two younger teenagers, who were like his personal coaches, and they seemed
incredibly mature, considerate and gentle. The whole atmosphere was amazing - all
were serious about what they were doing, but very friendly and welcoming. A great
part was the end of the classes - all (4 year olds as well!) had to shake hands with
each of the other students, look them in the eye, and say (in Indonesian), ''Share and
share alike''. Huge emphasis on respect, listening, following instructions - it was a
great place. Check it out!
United Studios of Self Defense
Re: Class for 5-year-old daughter to help with balance (Nov 1999)
We recently enrolled our 4 year old son at United Studios of Self Defense on
College Ave in Rockridge. He loves it! The emphasis so far has been very
much on learing how to control his body and mind. He's learning such basics
as jumping jacks, forward rolls, and cartwheels, as well as simple karate
blocks and punches. Most importantly he is learning concepts like "effort"
"respect" and "listening." Check it out.
UC Berkeley Martial Arts
University of California Martial Arts Program
My two boys took Tae Kwon Do for 2 years at the RSF (Recreational
Sports Facility on Bancroft near Telegraph) on campus - Cal
has a big martial arts program though Tae Kwon Do was the only all-kids
class. They went 3 times a week and it was about $60 per semester per
kid. The instructors were very good and they always had Cal student
helpers. Big disadvantage was driving down Bancroft/Telegraph at 4pm
and again at 5:30pm.
West Wind Karate Schools
See also: Karate studio not disclosing pricing
Re: Karate Studio in Oakland for 5 & 7 year-olds (12/02)
In the 12/20 Parents Digest Recommendations Wanted
Section, a parent wrote about some concerns about West
Wind Schools initial application procedures. My eight year
old boy has been attending since he was five. I wish the
parent who wrote in about the pre-enrollment discussion
had gone a little further and actually tried out an initial
33-week program (there may be other plans as well) to see
how the 5 and 7 year old girls liked the training and to see
how the parents themselves valued the self-defense
physical learning and cultivated mental awareness gained.
It is true that to talk to children about the possibility of a
kidnapping is scary in itself, but it is common for puppeteers
who teach about inappropriate touching and how to say no
to come to schools and present to children those ages (my
mother is one of the actresses). I had to face how much
'destruction of innoncence' and replacement of same with
awareness that could save my son's life and, let's face it,
save me infinite pain, by letting him know there can be bad
guys as well as bullies in this world and that bad guys can
even come near his school or our block (and we live in what
is deemed the safest neighborhood).
What West Wind teaches is the confidence and good
judgment to say NO to unapproved (and even supposedly
known and trusted) authority figures, ie, stranger adults,
when parents are not around. Although child abductions are
rare, 98% of those that happen start with a 'nice' stranger
asking for directions, the time of day, offering candy, or
seeking help looking for a lost puppy. The predator (and
they do exist, unfortunately) will not choose a confident,
aware kid as a target but will seek a depressed loner or
someone who looks weak..
West Wind training has helped my son, an only child and
product of divorce, to develop a a great deal of self-esteem,
discipline through etiquette, good judgment and bonding
with his private instructor as a role model, which is the point
of differentiation and excellence that West Wind offers. And
he is still a fun-loving,happy kid.
Wendy, parent of a West Wind purple belt child
Re: Karate Studio in Oakland for 5 & 7 year-olds (12/02)
Regarding asking for SS and drivers license numbers: this may be
pretty common. You can always refuse to give them and, at least
in this case, it would probably be accepted.
Re: Class for 5-year-old daughter to help with balance (Nov 1999)
Martial Arts Schools - If you just want recreation, try the YMCA or the
after school programs but, if you want serious martial arts and have a
budget for it, you can't do better than West Wind Karate. They are in
Berkeley, Alameda, Daly City, Fairfield and Vallejo. Your child will learn
all the physical elements as well as respect, anatomy, endurance, patience,
etc. There are lots of young children there so the kid's groups are all
either evening or Saturday and private lessons are scheduled at your
Re: Class for 5-year-old daughter to help with balance (Nov 1999)
I also would like to recommend West Wind Karate school on San Pablo. My
6 years old daughter started karate classes there in June, and by far is
very happy. The additional feature which I really like is that they have
group classes three times a week, and you can attend any (or all) of
them at your convenience.
My son has been at West Wind Bok Fu school since he was six years old
and he is now 14. This has been a tremendous experience for him. I
was surprised about the message which remarked about "competition" for
belts. The only competition is you against yourself and obtaining the
next level of belt is a great achievement for the individual, not a
competition. The kids learn and memorize many "movements," much like
dances and they are given as much time as they need to perfect those
movements. There are yearly tournaments where they have an
opportunity to compete with others in their same belt and age classes
but there is no high pressure that I have ever seen, except perhaps
within the families (just like Little League) and as in any athletic
competition where they are encouraged to do their best and maybe
obtain points for "their" school. Even the sparring, which my son won
his first gold medal in last year, is NOT a contact sport. It is set
up so the winner is the person who can do all the right strikes but
pull back just short of hitting the opponent. I have never seen
anyone hurt during sparring. As the kids have gotten older, the
teachers have gradually increased the pressure to achieve, as I
believe they should. I black belt should be hard to obtain. My son
has been taught self-respect, respect for others, discipline,
teamwork, how to work hard to obtain a goal, how good it feels to
obtain that goal, how important it is NOT to fight and that he should
never brag about his martial arts training or even mention it at
school except to "trusted" friends. He knows he is responsible for
his own level of achievement and also that his actions represent his
school and his teachers. I am really pleased with the experience we
have had with this sport. Barbara
Re: Karate Kids
My son (now 13) started karate (Bok Fu) at West Wind Karate Schools when he
was 6. They are fairly expensive but very high quality instruction. The
reason we could afford it is that they allow partners to go as a team so
that each pays half. Our team is now Blue Belt level and the training has
given them great lessons in control, respect, and confidence. The young
people who are the teachers, mostly men but a few women, have been
wonderful role models and there is hardly a hint of macho-ism in the place.
They are very supportive of girls in the sport and the head of the
Berkeley school actually said that once the girls get past the beginning
level, they are usually more serious about the sport than the boys. They
have very exciting tournaments each spring which are just among the
different West Wind schools - Berkeley, Alameda, Daly City, Richmond,
Vallejo, Fairfield, Napa - maybe more. I appreciate their philosophy that
the kids are not ever to mention at school that they take karate and the
over-riding idea that having the power means you don't have to use it. My
son has become a great diplomat and very capable of settling disputes
without a fight. Even the six-year-olds at the school call each other Mr.
Smith or Ms. Jones and they always bow to higher ranking belts and to
teachers. I feel good about the training and my son is dedicated.
I would like to share my personal experience with kids doing martial
arts. I am a martial arts teacher (doing Tae Kwon Do for 15 years) and
very into kids. I had once started a group with kids around 6 years old
and had stopped it after one year because I felt, that it was not the
right thing for the kids. The main reasons were:
I felt too much pressure on the kids (peer pressure and parent's
pressure) to go on to the next grade. This was (to my opinion) bad for
the majority of kids (because they learn to learn by pressure).
The whole graduation system in martial arts seems to support unsocial
behaviour with some kids (which can also be observed with immature
adults, by the way). Maybe, because it makes the kids even more aware of
the other's superiour skills or lack of skills.
The kids were always delighted, when I played games with them instead of
doing Tae Kwon Do (interesting enough, the parents were not.). Some
kids, that were only average or even below in Tae Kwon Do showed
surprising skills during the games. And *all* the kids kept asking for
Now, I am sorry that this mail probably sounds too negative. There are
actually a lot of reasons, that I could have included, why martial arts
is good for kids. Only my personal bottom line is, that -overall-
martial arts is not suitable for kids (under 12 or so).
I agree with many of the sentiments posted recently by
Joerg--that is, that martial arts aren't usually suitable for
younger kids. I practiced Tae Kwon Do steadily for about 10 years (I
practice Tai Chi Chuan now), earning a black belt, and once I was
advanced enough I spent much time instructing others. I was often
given the kids' group (ages ranging from 6 to early teens),and I love
I think most children under about age 11-12 really aren't ready,
mentally and physically, to begin practicing a combative martial
art. Most of their motivation for taking the class usually came from
TV--the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Power Rangers--and that
gives an unrealistic view of what they'll be learning and how quickly
they'll attain skill. Also, the kids (and often their parents, too)
tended to over-focus on the belt rankings and tournaments. We ended
up setting a age minimum of at least ten. There were a few younger
children (8-10 year olds) who handled the class well (as it happens,
these were all girls), but I really think it's better to wait until
kids are older.
I think martial arts can be wonderful for older kids and teens (and
adults!). I started when I was 12, and loved it right away. I found it
lots of fun, good discipline and good exercise, and very empowering
and confidence-building, which I think is especially important for
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