My six-year-old son recently started Tae Kwan Do. We are absolutely floored by how much he loves it and how it has held his interest. We had no idea if he would like it or want to quit right away. I would imagine it’s not for every kiddo. While it is fun, it certainly takes a great deal of focus, work, and concentration. He attends class twice a week for around an hour per class. He is learning many physical tasks, which didn’t surprise me, but I was shocked by all the instruction-taking and respect aspects. For example, he cannot even step on the mat at the beginning of class without finding his attendance card, handing it to his instructor with a bow, and thanking her for taking his card. He also is required to respond to everything his instructor says with “Yes, ma’am,” “No, ma’am,” or “Thank you, ma’am.” During class, she requires that the kiddos be attentive, use loud voices, and use their best focus. Another thing I really love is that she insists that they cheer each other on. If a kiddo is having a rough time with a new technique, she prompts the other students to lend encouraging words and support until they are all on the same path. The kiddos are constantly being taught new techniques and are rewarded with “stripes” on their belt once they accomplish their goal. Occasionally (I imagine the timeframe varies depending on the studio), the kids go up for “testing” to earn a new belt color or uniform. My son is constantly motivated to earn stripes and increase his skills. We are so pleased with all the things he is picking up from this class. He is using focus and concentration. He is learning to respect authority. He is learning to encourage and support his peers. He strives to learn new skills and advance his skill level. Lastly, he is learning some amazing physical skills and gaining strength. Here is a list of some local martial arts studios that offer youth programs.

Sunrise Taekwondo-

Surprise, surprise: I am starting with the studio that my son attends. It is called “Sunrise Taekwondo.” There are three locations: one in NE Portland, one in SW Portland, and one in Happy Valley. We go to the location in NE Portland, near 122nd and Glisan. The program director, Master Hong, and the main instructor: Delaney, are both wonderful and are great with kids. They are currently running a special “9-week summer program” for $199. I can personally vouch for this company, its studio, its equipment, and its amazing instructors. Here is the link for more info:

US World Class Taekwondo-

This company seems to have a lot to offer. There is a section on the inquiry portion of their website that reads, “How can we help your child?” and the parents are supposed to choose from the following choices: respect and discipline, fitness and weight loss, better school grades, confidence, and focus, special needs, or bully prevention. The website offers an “exclusive web special,” but I cannot get to it without a full inquiry. They offer virtual martial arts programs, along with traditional kids and teen martial arts programs. They have locations in Gresham, Sandy, Troutdale, and Sherwood. For more info, head to their website and fill out a “contact” form:

Dragon Brand Martial Arts-

This company is based in Gresham, OR. They have been open for a little over 15 years and have a perfect 5-star rating. One of the unique things I saw on their website was a section called “Hyper Fight Club.” The HFC is for youth and adults. There is a short video that explains that it is like sparring, but they are constantly adding new techniques and movements. Self-defense techniques are meshed with music to give kids and adults a fun way to learn new ways to defend themselves. Dragon Brand offers youth, teen and tween, adult, and after-school programs. For more info, head to their website:

One With Heart-

This studio is in SE Portland. They offer classes for kids ages 3 and up. A monthly membership for kids’ classes is $159 per month. It looks like their two classes for kids are online. The Little Dragon’s class is for 3–5-year-olds. Kids Pukulan Kung Fu is for 6-to-12-year-olds. They also offer summer camps and after-school programs. The summer camp is geared toward 6–10-year-olds. The days and hours are M-F, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $349 per week, and the camp welcomes beginners. For more info, here is the link to their website:

Team Quest Fight Club-

I like this company because of the large range of martial arts they offer. The kid’s program is for kiddos aged 5-11. They teach all the following in this program: MMA, Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, wrestling, submission wrestling, Tae Kwan Do, and karate. As is the theme of martial arts, this company relays that the focus of the kid’s program is focus, self-discipline, and respect for others. At the bottom of the website is a “7-day class pass”. It is a free seven-day trial to their classes to see whether a person would like to sign up for classes after the trial is over. Here is the link to their website:

Premier Martial Arts-

This is a national company that has a location in West Linn, OR. The curriculum for the kid’s program is noted as “unique” because it combines karate, Tae Kwan Do, Krav Maga (no idea what this is!), and kickboxing. There are two special offers listed 1) 50% off with the coupon code, “summer” and 2) Two private lessons and a karate uniform (no price listed, it says to fill out a form). Here is a link to their website and offers:

There is plenty of research to support the idea that learning Martial Arts is beneficial to kiddos. One of my son’s friends asked him about Tae Kwan Do and said something like, “Cool! Are you learning fighting stuff?”. My son looked at him (very wisely, I might add) and calmly said, “Oh, no! We learn to focus first”. I don’t know if I’ve ever been prouder. Some of the noted benefits of martial arts for kids include increased confidence, self-control, respect for authority, discipline, focus, structure, and the list goes on. The small, continual goals are also beneficial to kids because they learn that same discipline habit for school and other areas of their life. Enrolling my kiddo in Tae Kwan Do is a decision my husband and I are so incredibly happy with, and my son couldn’t be happier about it. Best of luck to you all in finding a martial arts program that meshes well with your child!