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Q. Do you have female instructors available to help with the younger children programs?
We have six female assistant or trainee instructors. Julie, Diane, Michelle, Carolyn, Kathie and Beth. They all have children who are current or former students, and live in the New Lenox school district. We designate someone for the mini students as "chief crying officer" to help when the little ones get stressed or are missing mom and dad.
Q. Do you conduct background checks on all your instructors?
A. Yes. Any adult who wants to help with our classes, no matter how informally, must be screened by the State of Illinois for any criminal background. We also check the national sex offender registry and of course we do not allow anyone on the floor with a history of relevant or concerning criminal activity.
Q. Do you clean and disinfect your mats regularly?
A. Yes, we use anti-bacterial cleaner at least 2x a week.
Q. Is sparring optional or mandatory?
A. In our program sparring is optional until you get to the higher kyu ranks. Some familiarity with sparring is required for testing for black belt, but we would never insist that all students must spar. There is some risk of injury with sparring and significant equipment expense so we believe this should be solely the parent's choice.
Q. Do you require students to sign a contract?
A. No. The only obligation is for the term you have signed up for. Even there if you do not want to attend 7 classes in a term we have an option for less than full term pricing.
Q. What happens if I need to take a break?
A. You are always free to take a term or more off without any financial obligation and you are welcome back at any time. Too many martial arts programs treat it as a life long commitment and are offended if you have other interests or activites. We are a bit more down to earth and recognize that martial arts can be a part of a well rounded schedule, and that everyone may need to take a break from time to time.
Q. I earned a rank in another school. Will I be able to wear my belt?
A. We recognize the effort involved in any martial arts training and will recognize the rank you have earned provided it is from a quality program. We will switch your belt to our color scheme so as to prevent confusion, and then you will begin learning our material up to your equivalent rank. You will not be tested but will be checked along the way to be sure you are mastering the material. Once you are ready to test for the next higher rank, you will be ready to progress in our system.
Q. Can I access my account and student records on-line?
A. Yes, you can register for classes, update your contact info, check attendance, and view rank and award history all from the comfort of your own home.
Q. Must I attend a given day?
A. No. You may attend any class that is age and level appropriate. You buy credits to allow you to attend as few or as many classes as you like per week.
Q. Does your price assume I will attend more than once a week?
A. No. Many programs are more expensive than we are because they assume all students will attend two or three times a week. Many of our students do attend two, three, four or more times a week, but many also attend only one time a week and our pricing structure allows for this flexibly, so you are not paying for more than you need or want. (small children really don't need to attend martial arts three times a week...they will burn out quickly and miss out on other equally important developmental opportunities.)
Q. Do you have mixed child and adult classes?
A. Some of our kyu rank classes are a mix of junior level students and adults, but generally we do not allow students who are younger than 11 into an adult class (with a few special exceptions for high ranking juniors) and if there is any maturity or behavior issue we will immediately require that they attend a different class. Children and adults learn differently and it is best to keep their classes separated.
Q. Do you have a safe kids policy?
A. Yes, all our adult instructors must follow the rule that they are not allowed to instruct a child one on one without another adult present or in viewing range. Therefore if you sign your child up for private lessons, please expect to stay if we do not have another staff member on site (we do try to do this, but some times things come up).
Q. Do you have instructional material?
A. Yes we provide handouts of the first 10 punches and kicks, and there are three volumes of our book which can be purchased to aid learning outside of class. The books follow our curriculum exactly to ensure all our students have the best in class and out of class instruction possible. DVDs will also be available for purchase shorlty.
Q. Do you have a set curriculum and how do you know when a child is ready to test?
A. We test mini and pee wee students at the end of every term and the material is designed so they can master what they need for their next level typically in one, or sometimes two, terms. In order to provide encouragement we give new belts with each test passed. Other programs may only give tips without much ceremony. Be aware that martial arts can get difficult and we feel the ceremony provides more motivation to continue though the hard times. We have minor ceremonies at the end of the term (7 weeks) and major ceremonies 3x a year. (May, August, December).
Q. Do you provide other Awards?
A. Yes, we give patches for academic achievement, outstanding attention, 100% effort, great form, super achievement (double jumping), most improved and student of the session. We encourage responsibility by giving points for job and exercise chart completion and for remembering to be in proper uniform. We strive to create a holistic program for those who want to take advantage of it.
Q. Do you have a competition team?
A. Yes. Kata competition is by invitation only, but sparring competition is open to anyone in the sparring class provided they are willing to come to competition practice. Sensei Carroll donates his time to train the competition team, so this is a high honor to be selected.
Q. Do you have other pricing arrangements?
A. We have a nomination only program called the Black Belt Club that allows for monthly or annual payments. If you need alternate payment arrangements please talk to Melissa or Beth.
Q. Do you offer private lessons.
A. Yes. Please see Kathie for instructor availability and pricing.
Q. What is the lowest rank that might be instructing a class?
A. One of our assistant instructors is a green belt but it would be an exception (illness or emergency for the regular instructor) rather than a rule if she were to be leading a full class. We believe that the persons character and passion for our program are more important than that they have a black belt. Possessing a black belt does not automatically make one a great teacher.
Q. Do you have children as class helpers?
A. Yes we do. We believe this is a good developmental opportunity for our junior leaders and it provides role models for the younger children. We are constantly working with our junior leaders to teach them how to instruct and interact with the children they are helping (they are by no means perfect, but they (and we) are striving for continual improvement). Having a strong junior leader program also provides a goal for the younger students which can provide additional motivation. Having them in the class room also enables us to provide more individualized instruction and achieve a better student to teacher ratio.
Q. What is your student to teacher ratio?
A. It varies by class and day, but we try for between 5:1 and 10:1, with more help available for the younger students. Please be aware our instructors are volunteers and may not be able to be present for every class. Leveraging volunteers is part of how we keep the cost of the program reasonable and generally below any other program in the area.