Community April 1, 2014

Karate Kids

Martial arts offer a terrific combination for most kids. That’s because practicing these art forms is not only a great way to get kids active and exercising, but they also help youngsters learn self-defense, self-discipline and to treat others with respect. Of course, acquiring such skills also helps build self-confidence.

To help you find the right dojo, here’s a rundown of local kid-friendly (generally for 5-to 16-year-olds) martial arts options.

Sun Valley Tae Kwon Do has been training local youth in the Valley since 1980. A traditional Korean martial art, Tae Kwon Do is designed to not just train physical fighting skills, but to also enhance one’s spirit and mind. As instructor Gary Peterson explains, “We teach kids lessons for life.” Sun Valley Tae Kwon Do offers youth classes on Monday and Wednesday nights at The HUB in Hailey and Tuesday and Thursdays nights at the YMCA in Ketchum (208.788.5767). 

Hailey Traditional Okinawa Goju Karate has been offering a traditional form of the Chinese martial art since 1995. Chief instructor Johnny Bolton says karate is great for kids because it not only helps keep them in good physical condition, but it also improves their dexterity, balance and focus. He said it’s also a great alternative for kids who don’t care for team sports. Located on Main Street in Hailey, youth classes are offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (208.720.3646).

Established in 1996, Sawtooth Martial Arts specializes in Soo Bahk Do, or “Korean karate,” which practices a non-contact art form, striking against targets rather than people. Led by master instructor Oliver Whitcomb, youth classes are offered at the Gateway Building in Hailey and at Zenergy in Ketchum (208.720.6088).

At the USA Grappling Academy in Bellevue, master instructor Lee Anderson leads Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, mixed martial arts and ladies cardio kickboxing classes—as he’s been doing locally for over 20 years. Lee says Jui-Jitsu offers a realistic form of self-defense and that it’s perfect for kids and especially popular with girls. “It’s a fun atmosphere, we’re everybody is family and part of the team. It’s very positive experience,” says Lee. Walk-ins are welcome and parents can even train with their kids (208.720.3519). 

This article appears in the Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.