Where Is The Martial Arts In Your Child's Class? | 4GK Martial Arts
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Danna Davis

My 6 year old son has been attending Ninja class at 4GK since August 2018. He loves it and I do too! He loves the skills and games and I love the discipline he is learning. I’ve spoken with a child-behavior doc about what he gets to do in class and the doc was *thrilled*. It’s clear that he believes in the philosophies Sifu and Miss Heidi teach about the importance of play and physical activity for children for all aspects of their development.

Jen Robinson

I took a kickboxing class and it was amazing. I was so pumped and ready to take on the day. Everyone was super nice and the routine was so much fun I would definitely recommend and be back for more!!!

Laura Miller - Owner, Little People's Center reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Had the pleasure of visiting Heidi at 4GK Martial Arts and observing both her EARLY SKILLZ for children ages 3-4 and MOMMY AND ME class for children 18 months and up. The children are guided through the basics of martial arts with hands on gross motor activities set at their own individual pace. It was a pleasure to see.

Di Trudden reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

My daughter completed her first group class tonight and I could not be a prouder or happier mama right now! Heidi Burmann and Raquel made Lily feel welcome and were so patient with her as she was learning the kicks and routines. I am so happy that we discovered a healthy and fun new hobby for Lily! If you are looking for an affordable place where your little one can learn and grow then 4GK is for you!

Everyone knows I have been on my own little health journey creating Our Mommy Movement and finding new ways to exercise. I signed up for kick boxing classes through 4GK and am really excited to try them out! Seeing how patient and kind the staff was with Lily I don’t have to worry about being surrounded by people who will judge me while I try to keep up with the moves.

Tina Dos Reis reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Great school and awesome team! Everyone is extremely friendly. My nephew Sebastian just loves his Extreme Skill class and after watching the team work together, I decided to try the kickboxing class. Frank put the entire class through a great workout! I can't wait to lose weight and build muscle. It's just the change I was looking for! Thank you 4GK!

Jennie D'Ambroise reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Great school! Adult kung fu classes are approachable for all levels. You will learn a lot and you will work hard. Sifu and your fellow students will help you to improve and you will make great friends. Kickboxing classes will also kick your butt. Women, train here, you are welcome at all classes and the atmosphere is friendly and supportive.

Tommy Aliberti reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

This has always been a home away from home! Very much a family, and I have been part of this system for 18 years! Great values, hard work, and many lessons to be learned every time, which I have taken with me in the ring, and in everyday life! 5 Star recommendation!

Donnie Keegan reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

My daughter has been studying here for, two months shy of, three years. She still loves it! I my self have decided to join. Love the staff. they are constantly innovating and improving,both the structure of the school and its teachings. I can only hope to improve myself to the degree in which my daughter has been improved herself! Absolutely top notch school!

Rachel Ramsey Weir reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

We have had a great experience in the last year that our son has been attending 4GK. He has become more disciplined in his actions, his body has been strengthened and he knows the rewards of hard work. The dedication of the staff is evident in each class. It is clearly a labor of love!

Cheryl Anne reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Fantastic staff !!!!!!!!!! Fantastic fun classes, they know you're name, they know how to make you work while you happily sweat toward a better you !

Katie Bacigalupo reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

LOVE the kick boxing class! It is such a great work out and fun at the same time! I always feel great afterwards and can't wait to get back to the next class!

Michelle McCann reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Great atmosphere, awesome staff and incredible workout! Love it!!

Victoria Ingoglia reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I absolutely love the atmosphere. It's clean, friendly n very challenging. I've given some awful dirty looks while stressed n I get high fives later. High intensity fire burning workouts keeps me motivated!!

Rebecca Manzella reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

4GK is excellent! I signed up my son for Basic Skillz just a few weeks after his 4th birthday. He loves coming to class to see his fellow ninjas and I really enjoy watching him learn new skills. In a short time, I had already noticed a behavior improvement while in a group setting and the two half hour classes a week are perfect for his attention span. Thank you Miss Heidi and the rest of the staff for your patience and influence on Neil.

Dawn-Marie Francois reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

The school is great!!! Classes are manageable and they push you to do your best. Staff is friendly and patient.

Frank Gil reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I wanted to make a change in my life. I was stagnant, not active and unhappy honestly. One day my brother and friend convinced me to take a class at 4gk. That was years ago and thousands of punches and kicks ago and I love it every bit now as I did that first class. The instructors are amazing, knowledgeable, and were always willing to work with me at my level. I've spent a lot of time here and find no matter how my day has been I can't help but smile when I walk through the 4gk doors. It's a great environment for people who want to challange themselves and grow and there is no place else I'd rather be

Roseann Wander Walsh reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I absolutely love it there. Everyone is very welcoming and make you feel very comfortable. I've done kickboxing at several other place and all the people there were very clicky I am very comfortable here and would recommend it to everyone.

Kimberly Lago reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

My oldest daughter has been coming here for a year. We fell in love immediately after seeing how wonderful the staff is with working with children of all ages. My second daughter was dying to be in a class also. As soon as she turned 3 we gave it a try and she has blossomed. Seemingly shy I was curious to see how her first class type activity would be. She loved it. Just waiting for daughter number three to be old enough because she is only two, but already feels like she belongs. We absolutely love it.

Shannon Marr reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I love this place. Everyone is super friendly and makes you feel like a part of the family. I get constant encouragement to keep going. And when I had sprained my ankle and couldn't come for awhile, they worked with me financially and kept sending me encouraging messages to take it easy and get better. I get the best work outs and never any judgements.

Leianne Marques reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

4GK is an awesome school. The entire staff treats you like family. I take the kickboxing and skillz fit classes. The encouragement and motivation you get from the instructors makes you feel like you can achieve your goals, do anything you want, even if your first instinct is to say no when they all you to do something. I accomplish something in every class and have learned to think yes I can instead of there is no way I can.... the instructors break things down so you can easily understand each move. Everyone is made to feel important and special in each class, no one is left out. I can't imagine going anywhere else.

Linda Cummings reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

We just started the mini skillz program a couple of months ago. I admit, after being in the free play, no rules music program for the entire spring, my 2 yr old granddaughter was starting to rebel against listening. The first day of class I was almost in tears after five minutes when I realized how bad her behavior had gotten without structure. I'm so glad I stuck it out though. The second class was a joy, with her listening intently and using her brain. Miss Heidi has the patience of a saint. She is also on top of age appropriate skills and stresses them at each class. We've learned taking turns, following direction, jumping, kicking and punching, and many, many other useful things. She loves going to her class twice a week and I truly love taking her. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these wonderful people and this fantastic school to anyone.

Danielle Hulse Maloney reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

My two sons have been coming here since December 2016. They absolutely love it & have THRIVED since coming! The older one suffers from anxiety & general fear, he has since built up tremendous confidence & has learned to verbalize any issues he may be having. The younger one is a ball of energy that needed direction & a release, he has achieved focus & better listening skills. The staff is AMAZING! They are welcoming, accommodating & listen to any issues you have whether it be with them, the class or your children. I could go to any of them & speak with them about ANYTHING & feel very comfortable doing so. Si Fu teaches the class in a low-key, fun manner that has the children engaged AND having fun at the same time, it's not the typical militant style. We received a military discount since my husband is a former marine AND ... They run a monthly themed Parents Night Out that gives parents a break without their kids from 7:30-10:00! I am thrilled that we found them & highly suggest to anybody looking for a martial arts school to check them out!

Yaoska Fleming reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Great team! My daughter loves the school. She has learned so much since she started a year ago. I am so happy I found this place. I am so grateful for Ms. Heidi, Sifu Mike and all the team. Their love and dedication is shown in every class. Good job!!

Neil Manzella reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I highly recommend 4GK to anyone considering Martial Arts for their children or themselves. The staff has been doing an amazing job with my 4 year old son. He has a safe and fun outlet for some of his endless energy supply and the staff do a great job keeping all of the students involved, active, and engaged in the classes activities. My son loves it and looks forward to it every week!

Christina Annessa reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

We just started a month ago and my kids are in love & can't get enough of it. Everyday they ask do they have class. Its great for all ages and I really like that they split them up. My daughter is 5 and is learning age appropriate skills while in the next class my 8 year is learning different things. The staff is super friendly and always accommodates our needs. I absolutely love the fun nights they do as well, the kids get to hang out & have fun while I get to relax a bit a home. Overall very satisfied with this program.

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Running, Hopping, Crawling, Catching… But Where is the Martial Arts?

Up until a decade or so ago, there were no martial arts classes for kids.  Martial arts classes were taught the same way to everyone, regardless of age. While this level of training was terrific for older kids, or for younger kids who were anomalies (far above the expected stage of development for their age), it posed problems for the majority of kids, who would most often quit because the training was too hard. Instructors, in their frustration, would say the children weren’t ready, or worse, would blame the parents for letting the kids become quitters.

Then came a revolution in the kids’ martial arts world: Skillz Age-Specific Curriculum. Skillz uses a reverse training concept that completely changed the way we teach kids. Skillz looked first at the natural developmental expectations of children at each age, and then used the lessons of the martial arts to enhance what each child was already learning how to do.

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Let’s look at an example that often raises questions from parents who have a more stereotypical expectation of what martial arts training might look like: the Early Skillz martial arts program for preschoolers between 3 and 4 years of age.

Developmentally, preschool kids between the ages of three and four years old love physical activity, and especially anything involving play. They have a fertile imagination and a strong desire to be less dependent on their usual caregivers.

The challenge we discovered is that many children at this age have a hard time with structure in a group environment, like what one commonly finds in most Martial Arts schools, or even many organized sports teams.

The solution we found is to provide preschool kids with their own martial arts program that targets their unique stage of development in a manner that keeps them entertained, while at the same time building skills that set them up for success. With that said, a structured program introducing early skill-based training in Martial Arts has proven to be very successful.

Within the Early Skillz martial arts program, parents see their kids working on typical martial arts exercises such as developmentally appropriate exercises, blocks, punches, and kicks. But there are also aspects of training that raise questions.

For example, after seeing their child go through our pre-evaluation process, and maybe watching a class in action, a parent might question why we spend so much time on skills that don’t directly relate to what they expect from a martial arts program. The answer is that our programs do not teach martial arts; they teach childhood development using martial arts as the vehicle for that development.

That said, each of the skills taught, even though it may not seem so at first glance, does have a direct correlation to martial arts ability.

Let’s look more specifically at a few of the skills taught in the Early Skillz program:

Running

When practicing the Running skill at the beginner level, kids are prompted to run forwards, backward, or sideways, while listening for the “Stop!” command from their instructor.  While this does not seem very martial at first, there are both developmental and self-defense goals behind the skill.

  • Developmentally:
    • At age three, children tend to have a very jarring gait, falling from one step to the next.  By mindfully practicing their running, kids can more quickly normalize their gait.
    • One of the biggest complaints from parents of preschoolers is that the kids don’t listen.  This perceived lack of attention can be a safety concern if a child runs in a parking lot, for example.  The Running skill helps by training children to regulate their excitement and to listen for commands from authority figures while engaged in exciting activities.
    • Sometimes, preschoolers forget where they are.  The more exciting the activity, the more likely they will lose their relationship to their surroundings, including which of their friends might be in their path.  By purposefully training how to focus their eyes on various targets while running, kids gain a greater understanding of how to remain aware of their environment and their place in it.
  • Martially:
    • While most 3-year-old children do not have to worry about physical violence, we can establish healthy fitness goals early on in life that will carry through future martial arts and self-defense training.  As adults, we know that cardiovascular health is vital to martial prowess.  A fighter who can’t breathe can’t fight.
    • In the ring, we have to have a plan.  To go into a fight or a self-defense situation and try stuff randomly leads to disaster.  Knowing where we are and where we need to go, even when things get crazy, is extremely important.
    • In addition to being able to move within a fight, a martial artist needs to be aware of the environment.  Where are the exits?  Where is the open space?  Where are friends or foes?  Much as the Running preschooler must be mindful of his friends and the walls, a fighter needs to be acutely aware of every aspect of the situation.

Hopping

At the beginner levels, a student in the Early Skillz class will work on hopping with their feet together while navigating over and through various obstacles.

  • Developmentally:
    • At the most basic level, kids at this stage of development are building their muscles and refining their ability to execute gross motor activities smoothly.
    • In addition to merely learning how to use their muscles, preschoolers are working on developing the ability to coordinate what they can see with what the expected result should be.  In other words, they are developing their eye-foot coordination.
    • Vestibular development means that kids are working on their sense of balance.  This includes their ability to sense the impulses from their inner ear, their ability to use visual input to recognize motion and position, and the ability to recognize subtle muscular cues.
    • Speaking of muscular cues, the sense of proprioception is the awareness of our body’s position in space and in relation to itself.  This sense is what allows us to touch our nose without looking.  When hopping, we are working with the kids to not succumb to the tendency to move only with the non-dominant foot.  We are coaching them to be aware of their movement patterns so they can keep their feet together.
  • Martially:
    • In the martial arts, a technique is only useful if it works.  By using the same full-body motions as required in the hopping skill, kids develop the dynamic power needed to execute powerful kicks and decisive takedowns.
    • In many martial arts, advanced kicking techniques require practitioners to leave the ground.  By developing awareness of foot placement and power regulation, a martial artist can have better control and timing when attempting jumping kicks.
    • When throwing an opponent, or being thrown, having control of oneself throughout the technique is essential, and many of the same dynamics the kids learn during the Hopping skill are the same as those used when throwing or being thrown.

Crawling

When practicing the Crawling Skill, a beginner student in the Early Skillz program will learn to bear crawl by using only their hands and feet (no knees), all while interacting with various obstacles.

  • Developmentally:
    • For kids at the preschool level, muscle development is happening at a rapid rate.  Their bodies are transforming from that of toddlers to that of an adolescent.  Bear crawls help kids build core and upper body strength.
    • Along with their rapidly growing bodies, intellectual development sees significant advances at this stage of development.  Along with language and critical thinking, we help the kids excel in following directions as they crawl.  At this age, kids can typically follow one to two-step commands. By training to follow 3 to 4-step commands, we can help the kids exceed the developmental expectations.
    • Until the age of 5 or so, kids struggle with any activity that crosses the centerline of the body, such as swinging a bat, drawing, and even reading.  This somatic division occurs because the part of the brain that allows communication between the two halves, the corpus callosum, has not developed enough.  By engaging in cross-body activities such as the hand and foot motions in the Crawling skill, the brain may actually develop even faster
  • Martially:
    • In many ground-based martial arts, such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or wrestling, the transitions from one position to the next use many of the same muscles and dynamic movements as the bear crawl.
    • The same dynamic movement a child develops while crawling translates directly to the body movement required to throw powerful punches.
    • Being able to punch across the centerline of the body, which develops with the growth of the corpus callosum, is vital for martial artists.  It allows one to blade off, or turn one’s body to present a smaller target to an opponent, while also having a wide array of tools on both the left and right sides of the body to use against an opponent.

[Article continues below video…]

@4gksifuTony Bach is working more than punches, he is actually using martial arts to rewire his brain to work even better! ##4GKMartialArts ##GotSkillz♬ Awesome – CHEWY


Catching

The Catching skill helps students work on hand-eye-coordination, spatial awareness, and teamwork.  At the beginner level, an Early Skillz student at 4GK Martial Arts will work on catching a ball thrown underhand from an increasing distance with each belt level.

  • Developmentally:
    • As children transition from being toddlers to preschoolers, their interactions with the world change, as well.  While the toddler is learning the rules of cause and effect by stacking things up and knocking them down, the preschool child is starting to understand how things work and that they have a certain amount of control over themselves and their environment.  However, they still do not have precision in their movements, which sometimes leads to frustration.   The Catching skill helps kids better coordinate what they see with what they do, especially when it comes to eye-hand coordination.
    • If you have ever played catch with a three-year-old, you will see they will “catch” the ball with their face before it drops into their hands.  And when they throw it back, they launch it full force at your head.  This is because they do not yet have the visual acuity to gauge distance accurately.  In addition to having better control over their hands, the Catching skill helps kids build the motor skills and neurological pathways related to eye movement, distance calculation, and depth perception.
    • Once kids develop their sense of depth, they can also begin to learn some serious mental physics.  Consider how much math goes into calculating and predicting the path of an object based on the force with which it was thrown, its mass, wind resistance, and all of the other factors that govern movement in our universe.   All of that gets done in an instant every time we throw a ball or try to catch that ball by applying pressure and deceleration forces. While most of us don’t think of these calculations when we play catch, the preschool mind needs to develop this ability, and they do so through playing games such as catch.
  • Martially:
    • In the martial arts, the ability to block, parry, or dodge an incoming strike requires timing, balance, and coordination.  The better able one is to calculate the speed and angle of attack, the easier it will be to avoid being hit.  As it would be inappropriate to throw punches at 4-year-old, we simulate this ability by tossing soft foam balls.  This allows us to remove stress and fear from the learning environment, both of which have been shown to stimulate cortisol secretion, which inhibits memory formation.
    • Some arts, such as Aikido, emphasize that we should never meet force with force; instead, we should learn to blend with and redirect an attack.  In the same way that an Early Skillz student learns to catch a ball by intercepting its flight, then decelerating its velocity to bring it safely and smoothly toward the body, a martial artist could also intercept an incoming strike to redirect it in a safe direction.
    • Timing is everything.  No matter how strong one is or how graceful, if the right move done at the wrong time, everything goes awry.  When the 3-year-old martial arts student is learning to catch a ball, they are also learning about when to move, how to be patient, how to anticipate.  Whether it is an attack, a lobbed ball, or a business opportunity, a martial artist’s sense of timing is what allows them to execute every other aspect of training successfully

In any new adventure with your children, there will be some things that are as new to you as they are to your children (have you tried to help your older kids with their Common Core homework, yet?).  In the Skillz programs taught at 4GK Martial Arts in Patchogue, there is a lot of high-level science and educational best-practice layered within every lesson.

Our goal is to very literally rewire your child’s brain by using psychology-based teaching techniques that stimulate positive neurochemical reactions. This positivity helps kids feel supported while providing them the confidence they need to also become more independent.

Because we are focused primarily on boosting your child’s stage of development, the lessons in class can sometimes not be as apparent as simply learning to kick or punch.  However, there is always a martial arts lesson to go along with the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social milestones we work through. If you are having trouble seeing how it all ties together, we encourage you to speak with any of our instructors.  After all, there is a reason we refer to our team as Pediatric Ninja Specialists!

4GK MARTIAL ARTS

380 East Main St

Patchogue, NY 11772

631-776-8060

www.NotKarate.com


Author: Michael A Evans

Michael is a 6th-degree black sash under his teacher, Moises Arocho, and has been training in martial arts since 1985. Michael has a degree in Massage Therapy from NY College of Health Professions. He is the co-owner of 4GK Martial Arts in Patchogue, NY, which is a childhood development facility using martial arts as a vehicle for kids’ growth and success.  Michael is also the Lead Consultant for Skillz Worldwide