It's true, I am a fan of martial arts. I proudly earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and took a smattering of Aikido, Tae Chi, and various weapons training in my younger years. It stands to reason that I will support anyone who chooses to try their hand at any martial art.
There are limits, though. For instance, to get the true, full, martial arts experience, you need to be able to think, judge, and feel. Martial arts is NOT about being able to kick someone's ass. That's merely unarmed combat...you can teach ANYONE that. Behind all that, however, you find the philosophy and discipline of Eastern traditions. That, IMHO, is a great thing for ANYONE to learn. And I have no problem with a child learning it...if they can dig that discipline, it will help them in many, many aspects of life.
However, be fair. A young child is not ready to grasp those mental disciplines that are truly required of martial arts. True, I am referring mostly to American children, but really anywhere that the culture doesn't have that kind of mindset already in place fits in here. Once they can act, speak, and think above a normal little kid, then fine. But one thing I always hated seeing when I was in training were these little kids that had been signed up by their parents. To them, martial arts was just another cool thing to use in play, and a lot of them became bullies with it...and that's ignoring the fact that their young bodies were not built to do such things. These kids are not ready for that sort of thing. Beyond that, my experience was that a lot of these kids were signed up by their parents because they were hyper (as kids will be), and it was a convenient way to get them out of the house for an hour a couple times a week, and to make them burn off energy.
WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong. A parent like that should be shot. In the street. To the sound of applause.
It's not an age thing, it's a mind thing. UNless you ARE raised in the Eastern traditions, you have no place in the martial arts before your mind can get around the concept of discipline. The first thing I was taught was the 5 tenets of TKD: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, Indomitable Spirit. These are cornerstones of my life and person now, because I have found them to be true and wise virtues. They are NOT, however, the kind of thing a child can grasp...not yet. Get him started, sure, but do that at home.
Frankly, I don't think anyone under the age of 10 should be training in the martial arts, but that's just me. And you DAMN sure shouldn't be in training if you cannot focus on them, hence, the stand against the 'hyper' children (who usually aren't that bad, it's just that they are kids). It's the "art" in martial arts that a lot of parents forget, or at least do not understand.
Yes, you've heard this phrase before, but FUCK, that pisses me off.
Incidentally, this came up because I learned today that Di's mother-in-law signed Bug up for Kung-Fu lessons. Not Di, not Bug's father, but her mother-in-law. As if this is something that she has any business doing, and top it off with the fact that she didn't even ask Di for her opinion. That ALSO really pisses me off...I'd have gone off on her about it. Someone else signs my son up for something, without my prior knowledge? They best be wearing a flak jacket when I find out.