Children’s Curriulum – Sample Belt Exam

Outline of a Possible Level 1 Rank Test

Prior to the Physical Exam
Parents are required to turn in parent permission slips with the box marked, “Yes, my child is behaving at home and at school in a way that I feel qualifies him or her to test for their next belt rank.” Students should arrive for the exam in clean and pressed uniforms with their belts properly tied and school patches in place. Students also have gym bags containing their personal items such as clothes, shoes, water bottles and any materials instructor requires for their participation in regular classes.

Physical Exam Requirements

Students must be able to quickly and efficiently line up in straight lines and properly utilize the available floor space. Students must be able to perform the procedures for beginning a class as a unit (bow in and other formalities) with unity, confidence and enthusiasm.

Students must be able to then recite the “Three Rules of Concentration” and demonstrate to members of the audience and or to each other the “polite greeting.” The instructor then chooses one child to role play the polite greeting to emphasize its importance and to point out to the audience the benefits and value of refined social skills. Students then perform the step-by-step the exercise of Form #1.

Next, the instructor calls two or more children out of the testing group to “compete” against each other in intensity, speed and precision. The instructor briefly addresses the children and audience about the power and value of healthy competition.

Students move into lines for a line drill where assistant instructors challenge students to defend themselves against padded “blockers” using the four-corner blocking technique. The instructor then asks at least two students to demonstrate the same skill in a “spotlight performance.”

Next, the instructor inquires whether each participant’s bedroom is clean (if the student’s room isn’t clean, they can get their new belt, but they can’t wear it until they’ve cleaned their room thoroughly). The instructor congratulates the students, awards their belts and dismisses the group.

Approximate Test Timeline

5 Minutes Students line up, bow in, and recite the “Three Rules of Concentration.”

3 Minutes Polite Greeting

5 Minutes Form #1

5 Minutes Line Drills and Highlights

2 Minutes Wrap up

Total time: 20 Minutes.

Children’s Curriculum – Freshman Year

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Level 1: The Basics 

Duration: 1 1/2 to 2 months

Overview: Procedural training; basics geared towards self-defense and away from traditional stances and hand positions; solid intro of specific mindset and attitudes of respect, courtesy and success.

Level 2: Partner Training

Duration: 2 to 3 months

Overview: How to train with a partner; more boxing/practical skills taught; grappling introduced.

Level 3: Pad Power

Duration: 2 to 3 months

Overview: How to work the pads and work as a team; public speaking; light on curriculum; jump kicks and weapons part of a motivation program to build enthusiasm.

Level 4: Sparring Games

Duration: 3 to 4 months

Overview: Good sportsmanship and leadership skills.

Children’s Curriculum – Themes

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Quality vs. Quantity

The MATA Children’s Curriculum is based on the concept that less is best.  Fewer requirements for testing allows instructors more time to focus on the quality of techniques, and frees them from the burden of having to teach a large quantity of material.

Theme-Based Curriculum

A theme-based curriculum is a MATA concept for teaching the martial arts to children. The reason our children’s program is so effective is that the focus for the instructor is far less technique-based than method-based. 

The major challenge for the instructor in teaching a children’s program is he or she has to squeeze in so many forms, techniques, one-steps, kata, self- defense and sparring techniques that the students rarely get good at any of them. 

There are so many requirements to fulfill that the student becomes discouraged and the instructor often burns out. It’s a simple matter of mathematics, really. All students have finite practice time available. 

The more techniques they have to spread their practice time over, the less each technique will be practiced. The result is mediocre technique and a frustrated student.

MATA’s theme-based curriculum reverses the process. The program allows the student to apply strong basics in a wide variety of methods. The instructor will find fewer physical techniques being required, but will also find the techniques taught will be practiced and perfected.  

Simply put, the fewer techniques the student has to practice, the more time she can spend on each technique.

For illustrative purposes, imagine student A is required to learn 100 techniques while student B is required to learn just ten. Over a given period of time, student B would have practiced ten times as many repetitions for the required techniques than student A. That’s a huge difference! 

Who is going to have a stronger sense of competence? This method also allows the instructor the time and flexibility to introduce the key personal development skills the MATA Children’s Curriculum is pioneering into the classroom.

The idea is that each belt level’s curriculum follows a new an interesting topic, or theme, with a different subject matter and feel than the level before it. 

Level One-The Basics

The Basics is the level where the basic fundamentals are taught.

Level Two-Partner Training

In partner training, students learn and practice their techniques with a teammate. In these two levels the techniques differ only slightly, but the method with which they are practiced brings a whole new flavor, feeling and purpose to the material. 

Level Three-Pad Power

The third level is Pad Power. Level three provides an opportunity for the instructor to review and polish the techniques learned during level one and two training. The idea is one half of class time can be used to review the fundamentals, while the other half gives children a chance to have fun with bag work, jump kicks and padded weapons practice. 

The bulk of student dropouts occur within the first 100 classes. A theme-based curriculum addresses this problem with a fun, creative approach and simple rank requirements. Each level of the 12 ranks from white belt to black belt have a different theme.

Children’s Curriculum – Getting Started

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This program contains a variety of ideas and useful information; since the design of your curriculum is a subject not to be taken lightly, we suggest you read through the manual first and take action second. 

The MATA Children’s Curriculum operates under the principle that less is best. At the core of this curriculum is an age-specific program with emphasis on quality practice, technique, attitude, and education. 

Some people will find this useful in its entirety; others may use only bits and pieces. The objective of implementing the curriculum is to teach children what children need and not what adults need. 

Children need to be taught in a manner that builds their self-image and teaches them patience, focus, self-discipline and many other qualities that will help them become functional, successful adults.

Set this exploration of ideas into motion by reviewing the “Begin with the End in Mind” testing worksheet located in the appendix. 

This worksheet will help you determine the best way to proceed as you redesign your own curriculum. We believe that this program will serve as a catalyst for the improvement of your children’s program, thus increasing the quality of your school’s instruction and the overall standards for martial arts education worldwide. Not only will your children enjoy classes more, but you’ll find teaching this program to be a much easier and enjoyable experience.

Children’s Curriculum – Introduction

Children’s Curriculum – Introduction

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When the teacher asks the children, “What is the biggest room in the world?”  the well-trained students will respond, “the room for improvement.” 

The MATA Children’s Curriculum was born out of the idea that there is room for improvement in what and how we teach the martial arts to children. 

In many cases this approach works. In many other cases, it does not. The outcome is far too many children miss out on the benefits derived from the long-term study of the martial arts. They drop out of classes because they grow bored with the program or some reason akin to it.  

The actual numbers are not known, but it is a fair estimate that ninety percent of the children who enroll in martial arts classes fail to continue their study to the rank of first-degree black belt. 

The martial arts instructor often blames this problem on the children for their lack of discipline and perseverance, but the truth is, self-discipline and perseverance are exactly what we’re supposed to be teaching them. These goals we can’t accomplish unless our students stick around long enough to learn the lessons.

The MATA Children’s Curriculum was designed to be fun for children as well as to enrich their lives with its powerful benefits. 

As we were developing the curriculum we asked ourselves, “What do children in today’s world really need and how can the martial arts fulfill those needs?” 

The MATA Children’s Curriculum is simplistic yet diverse in its approach to a number of innovative concepts that nurture, entertain and motivate children. 

We also designed it to be easy to teach. It is strong enough to stand on its own or it can be integrated into any children’s system.

For the teacher, the curriculum serves as a foundation upon which to teach and build basic skills. It did not originate from any one style nor does it owe a debt to any particular individual.

It is not any specific style; it is simply “martial art.” It is a tool to help schools increase student retention with a fun, effective, and above all else, educational approach. 

It contains lessons in intensity, manners, anger management, non-violent conflict resolution, anatomy and physiology, history, goal setting, public speaking, teaching, and team building. 

MATA calls this approach to balancing education and technique an “education-based curriculum.” Remember this phrase, as it will be a key selling point for your children’s courses. 

An education-based curriculum is one that rests on a foundation of education above tradition, technique, countries of origin, above all else. What we place as the number-one priority on the list (and hope you will, too) is the quality of education for children participating in your programs.

The MATA Children’s Curriculum grew from a need to improve upon what and how we teach children the martial arts today. After all, it is today’s young students who will carry the martial arts and its potential for self-improvement, empowerment and personal transformation into the future.

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