Youth Karate

Sensei Ray Hughes teaches all age groups, but his passion lies with the development of children. He has created a Karate program that has at its heart the development of good self esteem, confidence and mental discipline.   On this solid base of good self-esteem, confidence and mental discipline self-defense skills emerge through the rigors of training.

With nearly 40 years of experience working with children, Sensei Ray Hughes has created the Scottsdale Martial Arts Center Discovery Series Karate Program to address the needs of children in the areas of good self-esteem, confidence, mental discipline and self-defense.

What is the Discovery Series?

The Discovery Series is the comprehensive program in which all beginning youth start. This program introduces elementary karate techniques, mental and physical development, social skills, manners, and etiquette.

It takes time and experience to grasp the concepts of the martial arts. The Discovery Series offers that time and understanding to the student and parent. When the student is ready to move from the Discovery Series into the Master Level Karate Program, both the student and parent will have a basic understanding of martial art studies and how it enhances the lives of the practitioner.

What is taught?

There are three areas of focus in the Discovery Series: mental, physical and social development.

Mental development includes the areas of self-esteem, confidence, emotional control, mental focusing, memorization, coping skills, stress reduction, patience and many others.

Physical development includes a focus on strength, speed, agility, coordination, balance, flexibility and cardiovascular development. In addition, good eating habits and a general overall healthy life style are encouraged.

Social skills, manners and etiquette are viewed as equally as important as mental and physical development. Applying appropriate social skills often minimizes or eliminates conflict. The leadership skills, public speaking, cultural awareness and abstract understanding we teach prepares our students for today's world, giving our children an overall advantage.

Free sparring is not taught in the Discovery series, though some self-defense skills are presented. Students who excel in the Discovery Series will be invited to participate in the Master Level Karate Program, at which time free sparring, grappling, and additional advanced techniques will be introduced.

How is it taught?

The Sensei (teacher) engages the child for increased learning by introducing many topics and quickly moving from topic to topic, while providing the proper balance of content, structure and humor for the most effective means to teach children. If the child enjoys the content, the child will learn well. With structure, the child will learn in an orderly manner. With humor, the child remains mentally alert and engaged.

Scottsdale Martial Arts Center uses a stripe and belt system to reward and motivate students when small, attainable goals are reached.

Moving through the Program

Students in the Discovery Series Program are grouped by age. Students under the age of 6 begin in the Pee Wee Discovery Series Program while children between the ages of 7 and 12 start in the Junior Discovery Series Program. The Junior Program has the same layout as the Pee Wee Discovery Series, except the juniors start off in a 45 minute class rather than the 30-minute class for the Pee Wees.

After reaching orange belt (the first real rank), Discovery Program students may be invited to take their studies to a higher level in the Master Level Karate Program.

Introductory Pee Wee Program (6 yrs. & under)

The Introductory Pee Wee Program is offered as the first step for students under the age of six.

The student will begin in a 30 minute class with no belt. The child will stand up in front of the class and recite their name, address and phone number in order to receive their white belt. This is done to begin mental and social development, as well as having the child know crucial information for their well-being. Public speaking ranks as America's #1 fear: by having young children participate in this activity at an early age, the development of this invaluable gift will help them throughout their lives.

From this point forward, stripes are awarded at each measurable accomplishment (click here to view the White Belt Stripe Requirements). Students may spend up to 6 months in this program before they are promoted to yellow belt (an honorary rank) and invited into the Beginning Pee Wee Discovery Series Program. The pace of advancement is determined by the student.

Remember: "This is not a race"

Beginning Pee Wee Program (6 yrs. & under)

After receiving their yellow belt, the student moves into the second step of the Discovery Series for students 6 years of age and under, the Beginning Pee Wee Yellow & Orange Belt class.

In this 30-minute class, the student will learn basic forms (organized sets of movements) while continually covering previously learned topics. The student will receive a stripe when each of three forms is memorized. These stripes also represent honorary ranks.

When a child reaches a 3-stripe Yellow Belt, that child is eligible for an invitation to their first internationally recognized belt promotion exam for the rank of Orange Belt.

Once the student passes their first belt promotion test and is awarded their orange belt they become eligible for an invitation into the Pee Wee Master Level Program.

Junior Program (7-12 yrs. of age)

The Junior Program is essentially the same as the Pee Wee Program, except the class is 45 minutes long. Because of their age, they are given their white belt immediately.

In this class, the student will learn fundamental basic karate techniques, Japanese terminology, and basic forms (organized sets of movements). The student will receive a stripe when each of three forms is memorized. These stripes represent honorary ranks.

When a student reaches a 3-stripe Yellow Belt, that student is eligible to be invited to their first internationally recognized belt promotion exam for Orange Belt rank.

Once the student passes their first belt promotion test and is awarded their orange belt they become eligible for an invitation into the Junior Master Level Program.

Master Level Program (Path to Black Belt)

The Master Level Program is a limited membership, comprehensive, in-depth program that takes the beginning student to black belt. It is in the Master Level Program that sparring, grappling and other self-defense techniques are introduced.

Success in the Master Level Program requires a certain level of martial arts maturity that we recognize is reached by different students at different times. Because of this, membership is by invitation only.

Criterion for Invitation

  1. Reaching a certain level of technical competence and maturity (minimum orange belt level).
  2. Receiving a recommendation from class instructor based on student’s performance and dedication to the martial arts.
  3. The availability of an opening in the Master Level Program (15 students per class — approximately an 8-to-1 student-to-instructor/assistant ratio).
  4. Meeting other criteria discussed in the interview.

Maintaining membership in the program

  1. A student could be returned to the Discovery Program at any time if they cannot maintain their focus.
  2. This is a limited membership program: if a student/parent puts the tuition on hold, the student will lose their place in the program.Please note that 75% minimum attendance must be maintained for belt invitation and promotion.

Program Content and Emphasis

  1. Athletic development (a step up in difficulty):
    1. Movement.
    2. Coordination.
    3. Strength.
    4. Cardio.
  2. Technical development:
    1. Proper stance and posture.
    2. Freestyle blocking/striking.
    3. Freestyle sparring.
    4. Grappling
    5. Competition
  3. Life and leadership skills:
    1. Body language.
    2. The use of proper verbiage.
    3. Philosophy.
    4. Leadership skills.

Equipment Requirements

The only item necessary to start training in karate is a Karate Gi (uniform), which is available at the center. When a student is invited to participate in the Master Level Program, sparring equipment will be required. The sparring equipment consists of head, hand, foot, and body protection that can be purchased at the center.

Common Questions

Will karate make my child aggressive and want to fight?

NO! Aggressiveness and the desire to fight come from a LACK of self-discipline. Our karate training will teach your child self-discipline. In addition, we have very strict rules regarding violent behavior and the general conduct of students outside the school.

Is there any religious teaching involved in karate?

NO! There are no religious teachings in the program. However, social and moral conduct are encouraged and taught. We are practicing a Japanese art. A bow in Japan is a show of respect, similar to our handshake here in this country. Kneeling is sitting in their country. Kneeling and bowing is simply a show of respect from a sitting position.

How long will it take my child to earn a black belt?

The length of time it takes to obtain a black belt depends on the student. That being said, a student cannot earn a black belt without continually training for at least four years and having reached the minimum age requirement of 13.

How long will it take for my child to develop the skills to defend him or herself?

It is difficult to put a length of time on when a child will be able to defend themselves. Each child's personality and upbringing will influence the choices they make in a self-defense situation. The longer and harder a child trains in karate, the better prepared the child will become.