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Scott Hrouda




Location: Minnesota, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 4:36 pm    Post subject: WMA for children?         Reply with quote

Is there such a thing as WMA for children?

I know this sounds a little strange, but hear me out. My son just entered kindergarten (5 years old) and has been bringing home a ton of information from school. One flyer advertising a Karate class boasts "Practical self-defense, well structured curriculum, improves physical fitness, reinforces positive values and increases self-confidence". Doesn't this also apply to WMA schools?

The SCA has been developing fighting programs for children for several years now using hockey helmets and super-padded weapons.

Is there a WMA school that has offered this type of instruction or is planning to (obviously using foam weapons)? Could this be a new revenue stream?

Thoughts?

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Craig Shackleton




Location: Ottawa, Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 5:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I teach HEMA to kids.

I've done workshops and interactive presentations for years, and had a few kids I know in my adult classes, but last year I started running ongoing lessons on a regular basis.

This fall I am offering kids courses for the public, and two homeschool associations have contracted me to teach their kids, and I'm also teaching a series for a gifted children's "take off" program.

To be honest, although I did not seek this, it's looking like my kids programs are going to seriously outstrip my adult programs.

There are a number of things I do differently with kids than with adults, and there are some things that I don't think work as well for kids. On the whole though, it's perfectly possible to teach them.

I was thinking about this the other day. I am not one of the crowd that believes HEMA will be the next MMA or what have you, but I think that HEMA will change when we start having adult instructors who started as children.

Ottawa Swordplay
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Scott Hrouda




Location: Minnesota, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 6:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Shackleton wrote:
I was thinking about this the other day. I am not one of the crowd that believes HEMA will be the next MMA or what have you, but I think that HEMA will change when we start having adult instructors who started as children.


This is very exciting!

Being from Canada, you know as well as I do how much parents spend on kids hockey gear. I'm trying to think a little out of the box here as there was a recent thread regarding armourers having a tough go of it. Just imagine getting enough children involved that they will want munitions grade gear in their teens, then grow out of it every 12 months. By the time they're adults, they've been through a few sets and want the "real thing".

Caution, entering dream land here... Then, 20 years from now, jousting and historical fencing do become professional sports encouraging strength, daring, respect and honor in more youth. Childhood obesity is drastically reduced, people treat each other with more respect, the world becomes a better place... All because of youth WMA. Wink

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 7:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Take a look at this site: http://www.truefork.org/DragonPreservationSociety/

Got a short wee one on his front page. The 4th link down is "longsword for kids": http://www.truefork.org/DragonPreservationSociety/Chibis.php



FYI: He does have a comic that many would say is less than kid-friendly in spots, located in "other sites". It is rather anime flavored and may not be all that adult-friendly either, though I find it interesting when he has his characters engage in philosophy. He seems to alternate from drawing his characters having sex left and right and making bad jokes to asking what-is-the-meaning-of-life type questions and such. Also, he often has them running around with what are obviously Albion swords. Big Grin
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 9:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been teaching a youth historical swordsmanship program for about nine years now, starting at ages 9 and up. We have a "two handed sword" program (Liechtenauer longsword) and an Italian rapier program. For longsword, they use shinai, and for the rapier they use epee bladed rapiers.
Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2010 11:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I think it sounds like a great idea!
However, in my experiance (which ain't much, but still), the problem lay in how different each child is. There'll be those who are happy to be there, focus when required, genuinly try and get a lot of fun out of it; but then there is also the chance of getting a child with ADD who will simply not comply with instructions making the whole class either grind to a halt for safety reasons, let alone if they do a runner with the equiptment Eek!
I think shinai and aluminium wasters are probably best, as methinks that a padded boffer not only doesn't add to the fact that it is a genuine martial art, but encourages the more, shall we say eager, students to start whacking with no concern.
Now, I'm not saying that they can't, I mean kids will be kids and really they do just want to hit stuff and have fun. But I personaly think no one under, say 10 or 11 years of age (unless they show they're mature enough).

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
Founder of The Van Dieman's Land Stage Gladiators.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 12:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
Well, I think it sounds like a great idea!
However, in my experiance (which ain't much, but still), the problem lay in how different each child is. There'll be those who are happy to be there, focus when required, genuinly try and get a lot of fun out of it; but then there is also the chance of getting a child with ADD who will simply not comply with instructions making the whole class either grind to a halt for safety reasons, let alone if they do a runner with the equiptment Eek! .


Well, that's the problem with teaching anyone of all ages. Happy And quite honestly, I probably teach several hundred different kids a year, and what it comes down to is understanding how to teach kids. You'd be surprised (or not) at how many so-called ADD kids somehow have no problems focusing when you can find the right balance between formalized discipline and spontaneous fun. Happy

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Scott Hrouda




Location: Minnesota, USA
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 2:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
And quite honestly, I probably teach several hundred different kids a year, and what it comes down to is understanding how to teach kids. You'd be surprised (or not) at how many so-called ADD kids somehow have no problems focusing when you can find the right balance between formalized discipline and spontaneous fun. Happy

Hits-ball-out-of-the-park! Happy


My original question has been answered, there is Western Martial Arts for children! At least in Virginia and Ottawa. A second, and more selfish, question is this: Any chance there is a similar program in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area? I've searched and searched with no luck.

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 4:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is my opinion only and you should take it as such, but speaking from experience (I used to work in a dojang and teach Tae Kwon Do when I was in college, and most of my classes were kids), it is a complete waste of time to teach kids younger than 6 or 7, maybe even 8. It's up to the individual kid, of course, but that's the ballpark rule I've discovered.
New York Historical Fencing Association
www.newyorklongsword.com

Byakkokan Dojo
http://newyorkbattodo.com/
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Craig Shackleton




Location: Ottawa, Canada
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
Well, I think it sounds like a great idea!
However, in my experiance (which ain't much, but still), the problem lay in how different each child is. There'll be those who are happy to be there, focus when required, genuinly try and get a lot of fun out of it; but then there is also the chance of getting a child with ADD who will simply not comply with instructions making the whole class either grind to a halt for safety reasons, let alone if they do a runner with the equiptment Eek!
I think shinai and aluminium wasters are probably best, as methinks that a padded boffer not only doesn't add to the fact that it is a genuine martial art, but encourages the more, shall we say eager, students to start whacking with no concern.
Now, I'm not saying that they can't, I mean kids will be kids and really they do just want to hit stuff and have fun. But I personaly think no one under, say 10 or 11 years of age (unless they show they're mature enough).


I sort of agree with what you are saying here, but not entirely.

I agree with Bill that the variations and problems with teaching kids are the same as the variations and problems with teaching adults. You just have to know how to deal with kids. I've got a lot of background working with kids, so I just deal with it. The other thing is that most of the parents who sign their kids up for my programs do it because they think their kid wants to do it and can be responsible about it. Otherwise, they mostly wouldn't sign them up.

Also, age is only one predictor of behaviour. Some of my youngest students have been a lot more focused and learned more than some of my older students. Younger girls in general tend to focus better than boys. But then at a certain point, that reverses, and most of the girls become really distractable and the boys become really keen. Of course, neither age nor gender are reliable predictors either. And then you get the kids who seem to be goofing around, but in freeplay they are totally focused, or the reverse, who practice diligently and completely lose their minds in freeplay.

I've only once had a 'serious' problem with a kid's behaviour, and that was at demo/lesson for a scout troop. One of the kids went ballistic and would not stop swinging the sword around and pounding his partner. I benched him for the rest of the lesson, and the rest of the group took note.

As far as the "boffers" go, I would never put anything more serious in the hands of a kid that I never worked with before. It's just not safe. Take my example with the boy scout and imagine I had given him even a shinai or aluminum waster. Maybe he would have taken it more seriously, but maybe not seriously enough. Also a lot of the kids I teach are small and can't use anything heavier than a boffer.

However, I do a few things to mitigate the reduced realism of a boffer. One is that I am emphatic and consistent about making the kids treat it as a weapon. Another is that I demonstrate and focus on the characteristics that make it operate like a weapon (like, forte is still stronger than foible, edge is still stronger than flat, short edge is still stronger than long edge etc. even if the sword is a plastic pipe with a foam tube over it). Another is that when possible I demonstrate techniques with a blunt steel. And finally, I offer the opportunity to those who prove they are ready to move up to using steel. The kids take that pretty seriously.

I'm not a fan of boffers, or even shinai or other similar things, because I do believe that the impression of a safe weapon leads to unsafe behaviour. I find that when you put a steel weapon in someone's hand, they have an instant level of respect for it. But the truth is, that they are all just different tools that need to be used correctly to be useful.

As an aside, I just ordered a bunch of foam LARP swords from Calimical to use in class, which I'm hoping will also help the kids take them more seriously. Their weapons look a lot more like the real thing than my home-made jobbies or nerf n-force swords, and many of them are based on historical weapons in at least a very basic way.

Ottawa Swordplay
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
Joined: 16 Nov 2008

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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 7:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig: That is true.
If there's one way I learnt in my younger days it was being forced to sit out (and for a reason nonetheless), made a little example of, then having to watch everyone else having fun and getting to do the cool stuff (like handling armour or weapons) Laughing Out Loud . If I had to use padded/foam/LARP wasters, I'd go these http://www.esford.com/armourylarp.htm
With regards to armour, I think that the example from Sarge in this thread: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=20819 is a good way to do it. Interactive, parents can help, hands on etc. Either that or cuir bouilli which (with a tweak here and there [like a foam lining for cost reasons]) is authentic and works!

Edit: Just to be clear, what age are we defining? I remember (for example) being 13 and being classed as a child (which annoyed me to no-end). I'm assuming 4-12 winters?

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
Founder of The Van Dieman's Land Stage Gladiators.
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Craig Shackleton




Location: Ottawa, Canada
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Sep, 2010 7:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for those links!

Here are the swords I've just ordered today. Similar quality (I think) to some of the ones you posted. I do need some shields for the kids too, which I guess I'll have to look into.

I missed the duct tape armour in the other thread. That's pretty funny, I might ave to do a project like that!

I advertise my classes for 9-15 as "Youth classes" and anything younger is a "Children's class." My age ranges end up being flexible too. But to be honest, most of my kids programs so far have been groups asking me to come teach them, and I just deal with whatever ages they throw at me. I've taught a few five-year-olds, but a lot of kids that young just aren't aware of themselves enough to do it. Of course, I've had teens and adults with the same problem occasionally.

On the whole, most of the kids I have taught in general have been 8-12.

Ottawa Swordplay
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Sep, 2010 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Someone teaches a saber class to older children in Australia. I think they use boffers or modified shinai with fencing masks and gambesons. I wish I could remember his name ... I think he posted once on SFI.
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