The (selfish) reason we love it when parents train with their kids

So, if you’ve been at our academy, there’s a good chance you know about our family program. On any program that we have, if two members of a household are training, the rest of the family can train for free. For additional kids, they have to pay a registration fee, but no monthly tuition. For parents, you pay…nothing. We don’t even charge the registration fee…we send that in for you.

“Wow, Keizer ATA! Thank you! That’s so generous of you!” Oh, no, it’s not. It’s self-serving, and works towards our evil plan of taking over the world. Oh, and making my job totally easier. In short, when parents train for free, I win. (Hopefully, you win, too!) For lots of reasons.


  1. When parents are training with their kids, practice at home happens more often, so instructors spend less time “catching the student up” in class.
  2. When parents train, they are typically more understanding and encouraging because they grapple with how many of the techniques are more difficult than they look.
  3. When parents train, kids in class tend to goof off less because of the good example.
  4. When parents train, it’s easier to delegate team leaders, to set the pace or to help a struggling kid
  5. When parents (or any adults) train, we have more people who can hold boards for each other, and hold boards for the kids
  6. We would love to create instructors, who share martial arts with others. Statistically, families are more likely to produce an instructor amongst them (Out of the 12 ATA School Owners in Oregon, 9 of them came up through the ranks as part of a family membership)


  1. Parents training typically results in more “family practice” at home, meaning less time “catching the student up” in class.


It’s our job to make sure our students are progressing towards their goals, and that means making sure that the student is on track for the next testing. Yet, life happens, and occasionally, a) a student misses class, or b) a younger student perhaps has difficulty focusing, and therefore needs some additional classes or additional instructor time to catch up.
Now, I am hyper cautious about additional instructor time…I don’t believe that the instructor should be taken away from the focused student to work with the unfocused student. So, additional classes are the best bet for me to get a student caught up.
BUT if a parent, or parents, are training with the child? Magically, the student comes to the next class knowing everything that the family knows! Amazing! It must be that family practice!
Student wins because they stay caught up, instructor (me) wins because while I don’t mind hard work, I also don’t mind suddenly having a break from hard work J.


  1. Parents who train are more understanding of student’s struggles, and are naturally more encouraging.

Yes, we as parents try to be encouraging. But we can’t help but notice things our kids do wrong. I mean, seriously, the instructor just said to point your knee on the front kick! That’s basic! Why aren’t you doing it?
Then, the parent takes class, and realizes that they forgot to point their knee because they were too focused on keeping their hands up and pivoting their bottom foot and having the proper foot position and…well, you get the picture.
We are always willing to explain how a student is doing in class, and why they often forget to do certain things. But if you take class, suddenly we don’t have to explain it, you just get it!
You also tend to understand why kids get pumped, too :-D.


  1. When parents train, ALL the kids tend to goof off a little less

Every individual in a classroom affects the environment in some way or another. Our goal is to have fun by working hard. Working hard without the fun is…well…not fun. But also, having fun by goofing off results in injuries/accidents (loose muscles, lack of focus and awareness). Also, even the kids feel like they wasted their time afterwards.
As an instructor, it’s our job to facilitate the “have fun by working hard” environment. But that is so much easier when several adults are creating that environment, and not just one.


  1. When parents train, we can delegate team leaders.

As the class size grows, we have our little techniques to make sure that no one gets left behind. We create teams, and we assign someone to lead the team.

Kids are awesome, and can grow into incredible leaders. But sometimes, kid-leaders fall into these traps: Either going too slow and waiting for their team to catch up (so the slowest makes everyone else bored), or “telling” and not encouraging their teammates.
The kids will learn how to do that with time (especially on Leadership program!) but adults are typically better at keeping the kids on track, keeping up with a certain pace instead of holding their team back.


  1. When parents train, we have more board holders!

And not just for the kids, but for each other.

Board breaking is required for blue belts and above at testing, and it’s an important part of learning the physics of self-defense. Also it is a FAVORITE for a lot of our students! However, when you have a whole class of 20 kids and one board holder, then every student can get ONE board break in…if you burn up 10 minutes of our 45 minute class (assuming every student breaks within a few attempts, and we don’t slow down to work with any of them!).

Now, for every adult, that’s one more repetition the students could get on board breaking! Not to mention…the more adults, the more attempts the adults can get while holding for each other.


  1. Most instructors come from family memberships

And I haven’t quite figured out why, but I have my theories. While teaching is fun, learning how to teach is a difficult road for a lot of potential instructors. Anybody who has learned to teach has been through the student who just goofed off no matter what, the student who just couldn’t learn their form, the student who cried because the drill was just too hard, the student who got hurt and it was totally your fault, the student who you just thought was going to be so awesome but then they disappeared with no explanation. We’ve been through all of that.
Also, for many people, teaching is more personal, and therefore it is very difficult to accept constructive criticism on a class.

A future instructor needs encouragement from someone who understands how difficult the techniques are, but also understands the difference martial arts training can make in someone’s life. When the family gets it, because they’ve trained together, it’s a powerful force.

I love teaching martial arts. I want to see more people benefit from martial arts. So I would love to see someone else catch the “Man, I want to teach this stuff” bug! And remember, every martial artist in the world, school owner, Grand Master, world champion, was a white belt at some point.

Although it’s not for everybody, we are always wondering: Who is going to be the next person who decides that they want not just to learn martial arts, but to teach it?


So those six reasons are why we love it when parents train, and why parents train free if there are two kids in the program. Is it nice of us? Well, we hope you think so, but really, it’s because it makes our job easier AND radically changes the future of martial arts for our families, and the surrounding lives they touch.


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