The Benefits SKILLZ can provide for 7 to 9-year olds

Hey Low’s Martial Arts Family, Here’s part 3 of our 4-part series on the age-specific benefits of SKILLZ!

Seven to nine-year olds are what most people consider “the golden age.”

They are emotionally stable, yet they are not at the age where they want complete independence from adults.

This makes the teacher-student relationship stronger than ever.

The problem we discovered is they still lack core skills, and although they are highly proficient in their vocabulary and problem-solving skills, they struggle to keep up with pre-teens and teens in many areas, especially physically.

Below are milestones that martial arts can help accomplish:

Top PHYSICAL development milestones:

· Demonstrate TECHNIQUE in blocks, strikes, kicks, and stances while applying SPEED and power.

· Demonstrate AGILITY by applying proper motion to movements without looking sloppy.

· Demonstrate FLEXIBILITY by applying proper mechanics to stretching.

Top INTELLECTUAL development milestones:

· Demonstrate CONCENTRATION by focusing on the task at hand despite other distractions.

· Not give up on tasks that initially appear difficult.

· Retain simple information without trying to put excessive thought into it.

Top EMOTIONAL development milestones:

· Show INTENSITY in their efforts, even on basic tasks.

· PERSEVERE through challenges, especially when they initially feel like giving up.

· Show COURAGE by facing their fears when trying something new.

Top SOCIAL development milestones:

· Address problems and challenges properly without interfering on the overall flow of the class.

· Keep trying hard and control their emotions, especially when they do not get their way.

· Demonstrate the desire to be the best, not because they want to hurt others feelings, but because they want to improve as an individual.

By understanding the milestones of this age group, you can then provide drills and curriculum that properly target their stage of development to generate MAXIMUM results.

At the same time, you can translate the benefits of your drills and curriculum to your parents.

This is where you take an average program to a program of high VALUE.

For example:

Skill: Technique

Drill: Cat and Mouse Board Break Challenge

Description: In this drill the students will build technique in their board breaking skills. The students will compete in a fun game of cat and mouse while breaking boards.

This is a fun way to teach the students how to PHYSICALLY develop technique in their strikes so that they break the boards in as few shots as possible.

This is a great way to improve INTELLECTUAL development because they need to concentrate on their breaks and not their opponent that is quickly chasing after him/ her.

This is great for their EMOTIONAL development as they gain the courage to hit boards.

This is great for their SOCIAL development to improve their abilities through healthy competition.


Master Low

Fostering a Positive Growth Mindset

We all love to see our kids excel in everything they do. There is no doubt that when kids finally nail their form, or fly across the mat and break a board; everyone involved shares a sense of accomplishment. BUT it is only a matter of time before our ninjas come across something that challenges them. Before we go any further, let’s agree that challenges are good things!

If you are never challenged then either you aren’t working hard enough, or you’re not growing. Both of those are opposite concepts in relation to martial arts. From rank to rank, everything gets harder because being a Martial Artist is about growth and being better than you were the day before.

Getting 1% better every day makes you 365% better by the end of the year!

As adults, we understand this but for children, this can be a little more difficult for them to wrap their heads around. Here is a quick list of things you can do or say to build a positive growth mindset!

1) How does this make you feel?
Often times when our children are challenged or stumbled they feel disappointed in the fact that either they let you down, or they let themselves down. It is important to allow them to take the time to process their feelings and to not use blanket statements like “you will be ok” or “get back on that horse”. Those statements would be better used after they are able to process their emotions.

2) Hug it out
When you are kids are feeling upset, they are experiencing a major dose of cortisol (stress hormone). A nice hug will help trigger the release of oxytocin (connection chemical) and will help reduce the level of cortisol in their system. Even a high five can help, try using the “up high, down low, too slow” approach for added smiles!

3) Come up with a plan
Once we work past the initial emotional downswing, resolve to set a plan to help overcome whatever the challenge was. A great way to go about this is to set goals! When doing so start small and break the main goal down into smaller, easily digestible that are more attainable. Once you develop some momentum, then raise the bar and make your goals just a little bit harder. Keep doing this until you have overcome the initial challenge.

4) Focus on growth
Some things are extremely difficult, and everyone has a different experience. What may be hard for your child, may be easy for another and vice versa. The goal here is to help our ninjas be focused on their own personal growth and not get lost comparing themselves to others. Remind them that what matters is that they give 100% and at the end of the day, YOU will be proud of them for that!

Using these tips will help provide your ninja with a sense of confidence and self-esteem when they face a challenge on the mat or in life. Remember to be consistent because developing a positive inner voice will begin with YOU. If you are able to foster a positive growth mindset on the outside, this will become their inner voice that will stay with them for a VERY long time!


Master Low

The art of Peace

For years, martial arts has gotten a bad reputation because people feel that it encourages violence, especially in children. And yes, it sounds like a paradox that something that teaches “fighting” can actually make people less aggressive. However, what most people don’t know is that martial arts is rooted in nonviolent conflict resolution.

As the founder of Aikido, O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, said, “To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace.” Controlling aggression is the ultimate goal of martial arts. In order to do this, martial arts teaches respect and humility as well as life and social skills.

In any form of martial art, there is tradition and discipline. From a simple bow to an instructor or other student to waiting for the next direction, students become more patient and respectful. But not only does martial arts teach these simpler lessons but it also teaches lessons that have a deeper meaning and application such as goal setting, control over strong emotions and reactions, and self-actualization.

As students learn these character lessons, they begin transferring them into their everyday lives. One of the major things that all of this helps children with is increased self-esteem. When children feel good about who they are as an individual, aggressive tendencies diminish. This is because they no longer feel a need to “prove” themselves and their abilities. They have learned to internalize integrity so that violence is not even an option.

It is important to note, though, that the instructor is at the forefront of this training. Instructors must lead by example and promote the tenets of the martial arts they teach. Showing compassion and respect to students, while teaching them, will be more beneficial. Take, for example, the movie “The Karate Kid.” In the movie, there are two different instructors, two different students, but both are working on the same thing…martial arts.

However, the Cobra Kai instructor focuses on aggressiveness and anger in his teaching, while Mister Miyagi teaches from a place of peace and conflict resolution, making the actual use of martial arts to be only as a last resort and a means of self-defense.

The SKILLZ program takes the martial arts traditional concepts a step further by dedicating time to Life SKILLZ during class. These character-building lessons expand on traditional martial arts tenets and make them easy to comprehend. This is because they are broken up based on a student’s age and level of understanding. Lessons on sportsmanship, kindness, and optimism are just a few of the ones that are touched on throughout each student’s journey to black belt.

Martial arts is a holistic approach to the self. The physical requirements benefit the student greatly. The social, intellectual, and emotional benefits are, however, the most significant. When taught correctly, martial arts can be the most peaceful approach to conflict resolution, bullying, and violence.

Master Low

5 Tips your child’s martial arts instructor uses to put negative behavior into perspective

As seasoned Pediatric Ninja Specialists, we have witnessed just about every sort of behavior and outburst from working with hundreds of kids over the years. We have seen it all from playful name calling to angry tantrums. Some things are hard to not take personally, but our experience allows us to put things into perspective so that we may have the opportunity to use this as a moment of learning.If you ever thought:“You are making me so mad!”“Can’t he/she see this hurts my feelings?”“I can’t believe he/she is so ungrateful!”Don’t feel too bad because everyone does at some point. But with a little perspective, you may be able to change the internal conversation, stay calm, think of solutions, and lead your ninja toward the proper behavior or decision.Below are our top 5 ways to put negative behavior into perspective.1. Behavior is communication. We as adults need to remember that our children are far less experienced in recognizing and communicating their emotions. Frustration, fear, and anger can all be underlying causes for their actions and may express themselves inappropriately simply because they can’t think of any other way. So, before you start to think of punishments, ask yourself “What is my ninja trying to tell me via his behavior?” Often, you’ll find the underlying emotions and you can then address them.2. Recognize your trigger. We are all different, which means we all have different hot-spots. These could be things like specific actions, words, and/or attitudes. Once you can recognize what gets under your skin, the next step is to plan ahead so that you are prepared for when this will happen.3. Pause & Redirect. It is important that when your ninja makes a mistake, realize that most actions come from a positive intent. For example, often when a ninja keeps interrupting the instructor as he/she talks it is not because they are trying to be rude, but rather they are wanting to impress them with how much they might know about the topic. So pause for a moment and redirect your thought to discovering the positive intent before you respond.4. Be your own detectiveHas your ninja ever done anything that touched on a nerve in just the right way? This would be a good moment to dig deep and figure out why you feel this way. Discover the narrative you are telling yourself about this behavior or action. Have you ever felt like this before, and what made you feel this way? You may not be able to come up with the answers right away, but being your own detective helps you rewrite the narrative in a more helpful and positive manner.5. Reframe the questions you ask yourselfFinally, instead of asking yourself internally “Why won’t my ninja stop calling my name/interrupting?” try reframing the question to: “What is so important to my ninja that I need to hear it asap?”We hope you found this helpful! Consistently putting negative behaviors into perspective will not only improve your mental health and mindset but will also allow you to start building a deeper connection and understanding with your ninja.


Master Low

Potatoes, Eggs, and Coffee Beans

Hey SKILLZ Friends and Family,

This week I want to share another story to help inspire you on how to handle adversity! Once upon a time, a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the boiled eggs out and placed them in a bowl.He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to her he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.“Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity– the boiling water.However, each one reacted differently.The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean? “Moral: In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.Which one are you?


Master Low

The Benefits of Game-Based Learning for 7-9 year-olds


When we hear the word “learn” we often think of children sitting in a classroom, at a desk, with a teacher educating students on a particular subject. We rarely ever imagine playing a game as a teaching and learning tool. However, the benefits of utilizing this can span more developmental areas than learning about a single subject through lecture and worksheets. As O. Fred Donaldson said, “Children learn as they play. More importantly, in play, children learn how to learn.”

Children between the ages of 7 and 9-years old are what most people consider “the golden age.” They are at a unique growth period in their life. They are proficient in their vocabulary and problem-solving skills, yet they are not at the age where they want complete independence from adults. They are refined in their gross motor skills but are still establishing a foundation in core skill development.

Children at this age are extremely bright and are very enthusiastic. They love a challenge and enjoy the spotlight. However, they often get frustrated when things don’t go their way and are just learning to tap into their emotions. Distractions can be a challenge for them as well.

For this age group, a program that involves game-based learning is extremely effective. Since they are generally excited about new things, utilizing games as a method of learning will keep their eagerness high and learning continues to be associated with strong positive emotion. This will keep them coming back for more! And even better, they develop skills that benefit them in all four stages of development.

In the SKILLZ program, we utilize game-based learning drills since they are crucial for stimulating “working memory” in the brain. During these drills, neurons began firing which leads to new neural growth, which helps their intellectual development. Our instructors interact with our students, during the drills, in a way that triggers oxytocin in the brain and helps with their emotional and social development. And since we utilize martial arts as a vehicle to help develop the whole child, their physical development is enhanced through the drill itself.

For example, in the drill “Brain Games” the students will form lines, each one with an instructor. The students will be asked to run to the instructor and perform a technique with good form. This benefits their physical development by requiring them to be more precise in their movement. When the student approaches to begin the drill, the instructor picks a category of items, such as colors or animals, to count in, instead of numbers. This use of neurobics helps the student stay focused, therefore, benefiting their intellectual development. This drill helps with emotional development because they learn to persevere when counting their repetitions, via a different method, becomes challenging. And throughout the drill, the student is interacting with the instructor in a positive manner which benefits them socially.

By utilizing a game-based learning approach with 7 to 9-year olds, we can help them develop as a whole by adapting to their adventurous attitude and youthful nature while at the same time building skills that set them up for success.


Master Low

Martial Arts Creates Better Athletes

Hey Low’s Martial Arts Families,

Imagine your child on the field running quicker than ever before, outmaneuvering all opponents, and having the confidence to overcome every obstacle!Today I’d like to talk about the benefits of supplementing youth sports with martial arts training! Before we can, we must overcome the first challenge standing between your child and the achievements listed above.Martial Arts instructors from around the nation often notice a trend revolving around youth sports. Children and Parents often jump the gun and switch from one sport to another, sometimes putting a hold or quitting martial arts training altogether. It is easy to see why: “Transportation is hard”, “Scheduling is difficult”, “Workload is too much” are often what we hear.I am not here to tell you that these challenges hold no weight. Instead, I’d like to talk about some of the benefits of supplementing these sports with martial arts training, and let you decide for yourself if the benefits are worth the added effort.Each sport develops its athletes for a specific purpose, that could be getting the ball to the other side of the court, being the first person to the end of the pool, or the first to the finish line. For each of these goals, coaches drill and rep exercises and body movements that will fulfill these singular purposes. Martial arts will help to fill in the gaps when it comes to physical development, either building gross motor skills or finer muscular control and attention to detail. Through forms training and the correct physical exercises, martial arts focus on developing the entire body because we never know which techniques we will have to employ when it comes to self-defense. We also place an emphasis on attention to detail and micro-movements. It has been observed that our students begin to show this awareness in other sports as well!Another great benefit is that kids are extremely creative! This means that they are more likely to implement movements and strategies they learn while in the dojo! This “thinking outside the box” mentality will give our students the edge when in competition because they have a larger toolbox from which to draw. With that advantage, they will find it easier to maneuver and push through tough situations.Team sports can also be highly focused on group competition which is great! Because of this, they will become better teammates and acquire more grit and tenacity. Martial arts training also excels at this while also including valuable focus on personal character development and empathy. So while the intensity of competition will drive them to high levels of accomplishment, they will maintain a balanced and humble mindset that will continue to set them up for success!We hope this has been informative if you happen to have any questions about how we can help your child supplement their sports or activities with martial arts training feel free to ask! I’d also like to send a shout out to all our Low’s Martial Arts students who are currently cross-training with their sports and martial arts!

Sincerely, Master Low



How can you set your child up for daily success? One of the most effective ways to do this is to focus on prompting instead of punishment. Here’s what you need about prompting your child toward good behavior and decisions: 1. Friendly CompetitionOne of the ways to prompt your child toward good behavior is to create a simple competition where you dare them to turn a negative behavior to a positive one. If your child is fidgety and doesn’t sit still or tends to be disruptive, for instance, create a friendly competition or prompt that steers them to better behavior. To have them sit still, you may ask “Let’s see if you can sit better than me!” This puts their focus on trying to do better than you. They learn how to sit still without even realizing it. 2. A Dose of Praise If your child wins the friendly little competition, or they do something well, give them a good dose of praise. A few encouraging words such as, “Look at how good you are at this!” are positive reinforcement that makes them feel good about themselves and their accomplishments. 3. Set Your Child Up for Success. The whole goal behind prompting is to catch your child doing good things. How often do you catch them doing something good rather than bad behavior? Every time you catch your child doing something good, let them know. Along with praise, setting your child up for success means you recognize and reward their good behaviors. In fact, the more you catch them doing good things, the more their brain tells them “I like this!” which gives them a good reason to continue. 4. Brain Power The more you punish your child’s behavior, the more cortisol (stress hormone) is released and goes to your child’s brain. So, what kind of brain do you want your child to have? A brain that is excited about doing good things, or a brain that anticipates getting in trouble? I know my choice. I want my child to be constantly excited about doing good things. 5. Redirect Helping your child improve their behaviors involves more than prompting them, setting them up for success, and catching them do good things. Sometimes prompting involves redirection. Redirection is simply redirecting their attention in a different direction when they are upset, worried or anxious. Completely change the subject to something positive and engaging. If they are upset, redirect them to look out the window at something interesting, or ask about a favorite toy. This type of prompting helps divert their attention to a positive experience which supersedes their other difficult emotions. The final questions to ask yourself is how well you prompt your child for successful interactions and behaviors. I think we can all agree that children will not have the very best discipline all the time. To improve their level of discipline, it is important that we prompt them all the time. Then, catch your child doing good things and set them up for success. ~~~~~I hope you enjoyed this blog!

Game Based Learning 5-6 year olds

Hey there Low’s Martial Arts Families,

When people generally think of “play” they think of fun and games…something simply for amusement and nothing more. However, there is a bigger, and more important, piece that is often overlooked…learning. As Kay Redfield Jamison said, “Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.”

The same is true for game-based learning. When parents hear this term, they think that their children will only be “playing games” and that no learning will be involved. What a lot do not understand is that game-based learning helps children develop physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially, all at the same time. And better yet, when information is learned in a fun way, children retain it better and want to continue to participate in the activities.

For 5 and 6-year old’s, specifically, they are at a unique growth period in their life. They are refined in their gross motor skills but are still establishing a foundation in basic fundamental skills. Physically, they still lack a lot of strength. Intellectually, they have a hard time retaining information beyond three commands. Emotionally they act silly when they are nervous or excited, but their confidence is built through making role models proud. Socially, they enjoy the spotlight but tend to lack proper sportsmanship.

After years of research on the stages of child development and learning the Basic SKILLZ program was created. This program is geared towards developing the basic fundamental skills that 5 and 6-year old’s are lacking. By creating a program that incorporates 4-dimensional instruction, students improve in all developmental stages, all the while, having fun! Coupled with this is a game-based approach to learning that is implemented. This method helps the students become fully engaged in learning because they are “playing a game” and having fun.

For example, one of the drills called “Taking Turns” requires that the students are partnered up. During the directions for the drill, the instructor gives the students a few steps to remember in order to complete the drill correctly. This helps this age group by giving them multiple steps to remember but in a fun way that will be easily retained. Socially, they are working with a partner and focused on good sportsmanship and teamwork. Physically the drill requires the students to perform 20 front kicks, which helps build their strength. Emotionally, by doing these things correctly, they are receiving positive feedback from the instructors which builds their confidence.

By implementing game-based learning into a holistic approach to child development, students associate learning with a strong positive emotion, which helps them retain information better. They are improving the skills necessary for their stage of the development but doing it while having fun. It’s a dual process…it’s fun for them but they are gaining valuable skills as well.

Master Low

Build a Stick-to it Attitude

Hey Low’s Martial Arts Parents!

Today I’d like to talk about tough situations, struggles, failures, and the importance of following through in a manner that promotes growth in children. When things get tough for our kids the two most common ways parents handle these situations is to either swoop in and be the hero or to leave them to “figure” it out. This could mean doing their homework for them, not pushing them to get back up on that horse, or allowing them to quit a sport/activity that they love simply because they have hit a roadblock. The issue is that in most cases both of these choices rob our kids of the chance to learn, overcome, and become a stronger individual. So how can we “parent” our way through a tough situation to help our kids become the best versions of themselves?

Here are a few ways we can develop a “stick-to-it” attitude:

Promote Perseverance

Be consistent when talking with your kids about roadblocks or plateaus. Skill does not come naturally and just because you are not naturally talented at something doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Skill in the majority of cases is something developed from countless hours of practice, so if they stick with it, they will eventually succeed. Learning to push through the discomfort to “get it done” is a normal part of the learning process. You will be stronger and more resilient once you are used to it.

Use questions to help find a solution

Resist the urge to give them the answer. Play the coach in situations where you know the right answer and they don’t. Ask them questions that will guide their thoughts in the correct direction to help them learn how to “think it through”. An easy way to help guide them is to break the solution into steps and help them figure out how each step contributes to the solution. Remember, only reveal the answer if they are clearly unsure. Afterward, be sure to help them understand why and how you came to the given solution.

Share your experiences

This is an easy one to overlook, but we all know kids learn from the adults most prevalent in their lives! So share an experience where you failed. Or maybe one where you had a really hard time with something but were able to overcome. For bonus points, you can even talk with your martial arts instructor about something that was challenging for them! We need to help them realize that success almost never happens on the first try. There will be times when you are frustrated or bored out of your mind. This is simply part of the journey, and having a role model will help them develop an inner dialogue and motivation that will last for ages.

Be their rock

Set your expectations for them. At first, you may need to set clear practice times, define a quiet space, and give them reminders when they forget. There may be some initial complaining but as they begin to see the rewards they should decrease. Lastly, model the qualities you want from them when they are frustrated, bored, or defeated. The goal is to allow them to be with their feelings but to be resilient enough to realize that success comes from failure. Model the calm and determination you would like them to have when they bounce back!

We hope that this article has been helpful. If you have any questions or would like our staff to share some experiences where they have struggled in the past feel free to come and see us! If you have any questions in regards to how we can help your ninja let us know!


Master Low

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