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Little Tigers

Yes Sir” responded the class as the attentive students bowed humbly to the instructor. This simple act of respect takes place in thousands of dojangs around the world, but in a training hall in Murray, UT, the students are a tad different. They are members of the “Little Tigers” Class and their ages vary from four to six years-old.

Some strict traditionalist in the martial arts have criticized school owners and instructors for offering classes for preschoolers, citing that children of that young of an age do not understand the traditions, philosophy or meaning of martial arts. This may in fact, be true, but the British Heart Foundation conducted studies that demonstrated the positive mental and physical benefits of highly structured training for young children. They are: increasing bone density, reducing anxiety, improving body image and mood, developing physical fitness, and promoting weight control.

The Health Education Authority, the leading body in health program in Great Britain, recommends that children should participate in moderate activity for one hour every day and at least twice a week, take part in an activity to improved muscular strength, flexibility and bone health-areas in which the physical application of martial arts, and especially Taekwondo, excel. Traditional Taekwondo classes are very structured, involved discipline and are made up of various age group

Instructors of preschoolers have modified their classes to provide age appropriate instruction. In the Little Tigers class, the instructors still maintain discipline (though not as strict) and the child can learn at his or her own pace

“Discipline is very important, but we also want to stimulate their desire to learn, “according to Master Parnell. We must provide an atmosphere that keeps them wanting to continue and learn more.”

One of the first skills taught to the Little Tigers is how to enter the dojang and walk on to the mat. The youngsters bow upon walking through the entry to the training hall, and bow to their senior black belts.

Classes are held four days a week, at the Main Gym on Mondays through Thursday. The Little Tigers look forward to board breaking on test day and step up to the challenge with enthusiasm and focus. The look on a child's face upon breaking his or her first board is unforgettable; it is one of the best methods to develop perseverance and self-confidence. Once the student accomplishes the break with a step behind side-sidekick which is designed for their age group-the student bows to the instructor gives the broken board to the student, the student is taught to receive the board with feet together and both hands together with palms facing upward. They are taught that in the martial arts, it is considered bad manners to grab or take an item from someone. The Tigers are taught proper etiquette and are learning to become true martial artists.

Parents are encouraged to observe the Little Tigers class and some parents also take their own Taekwondo or Haidong Gumdo lessons at the Academy. The parents have expressed their praise and enthusiasm for the Little Tigers class.

For anyone interested in further information, or who wants to come by the school to see it for themselves, please click here, or contact Master Parnell at