Common Questions About The Martial Arts and Fitness Programs We Offer

It is important to ask questions before starting any kind of martial arts or fitness program. Here, you can read our answers to some of the questions that we are frequently asked about our martial arts schools in Chester County. Children's Martial Arts, Adult's Martial Arts, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Russian Kettlebells, summer camps, yoga, and kickboxing. 
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  • What Style do you Teach?

    This is a common question when parents are shopping martial arts schools for their children. And, we hear it all of the time.
    There's a lot more to consider when thinking about which school is the best fit for your family. You have to consider location, class times and costs. The "style" question is often an opener to get the conversation started.
    But, it's important to remember that some schools emphasize things that might not be important to you, regardless of style.
    And, once you've decided that your child(ren) should learn martial arts, you want the very best for them. So, if you ever need help or more information, we're here to chat about the choice.
    Before I get into the style of martial arts we teach, let's talk about our approach.
    First we split the children into four separate age-groups. This insures that the material they learn is developmentally appropriate.
    Then, within each of those age groups is a framework of goals setting that uses short, medium and long term goals.This combination builds their confidence and helps them to be happy, healthy and successful in the future.
    Finally, as the student progresses through the program they will develop leadership skills. These skills are both learned and demonstrated through our near-peer mentoring programs.
    What is style?
    Style in martial arts refers to the proper name of the art and the aspects it emphasizes. Style describes the physical attributes of a martial art. Converselyapproach is about the teaching methodology.
    Taekwondo uses more kicks and long range techniques.
    Muay Thai Kickboxing uses more upper body strikes and close range techniques
    Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more like wrestling but has a strong self-defense component.
    At the Dragon Gym, we teach all three of these martial arts.
    While every martial art has gaps, these three arts compliment each other and fill in the gaps quite well.
    Over the years, we've found it's best to give children a well-rounded foundation in martial arts. So, we've developed the program to be about 1/3 Taekwondo, 1/3 Muay Thai, and 1/3 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
    This broad base benefits the student mentally and physically.
    Students don't get stuck in limited, repetitive movements. And, they have to think in both linear and non-linear patterns.
    Plus, they get an opportunity to excel at what they'll naturally be good at --> building their confidence. And, they'll be exposed to something that might be challenging --> building their resilience.
    Then, as they progress they can start to specialize in Taekwondo or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
    Choosing a martial arts school can be a complicated choice.
    Hopefully, this email let's you know a little bit more about what we do. We're interested in meeting and exceeding your expectations, so try us out and make sure we'll be a good match.

  • What's the Best Martial Art for My Child?

    This question, Which Martial Art is Best for My Child? Or,  Which Martial Art is best for children?, is something we hear all of the time.

    Essentially, the asker wants to know which style of martial art is the best style for children to study and learn.  However, is that the root, the true heart of the question?

    Well, perhaps not, but let's start at the top and talk about "style" in martial arts.   At a high level, there are two main branches of martial arts: Hard Styles and Soft Styles, and within these branches one may find many different subsets of martial arts.   And then of course, there are some gray areas and some martial arts could fit into both categories.

    Another way of looking at style is "Traditional" vs "Sport" oriented.  For example, traditional styles might include Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Hapkido and Kung Fu; whereas, sport oriented styles would include Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Boxing, Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).   Again, there may be some cross over: Taekwondo, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu could all be considered both traditional and sport oriented.

    In styles like Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai or Karate your child will be learning techniques that are generally striking (Hard Style) in nature: Kicks and Punches.  But, they will also learn some joint locks and standing grappling although this is not the focus.

    In styles like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Hapkido you child will be learning techniques that are grappling oriented (soft style), again they will also learn some striking, but that is not the focus.

    In all styles your child will learn about self-defense and develop physical fitness.

    In all styles there should also be a philosophical component teaching aspects of character development like integrity, humility, self-discipline and self confidence.

    How much of each of these things will be taught and what's better for children?

    Well, I have seen martial arts schools across all styles that are fantastic organizations for children.

    And, I have seen some schools, let just put it this way, they should stick to adults.

    So ultimately, the question you should be asking, or perhaps were already thinking about asking is this:

    Which Martial Arts SCHOOL is the best for My Child?

    Choosing a martial arts program and instructor isn’t just about style, location, class times and costs.  There’s a lot more to consider when thinking about which school is the best fit for you and your family. And not every martial arts school or program is a good match.  Some emphasize things that might be unimportant to you.  Others may or may not have instructors qualified and skilled at providing for a special need you or a family member might require.

    And it’s not all about price.  Sure, price matters.  But it’s not the only thing that’s important to you.  And once you’ve decided to learn and to practice a martial art you want the very best results possible for a price that’s fair.

    And, if you need more information or…if you need or want our help we’re here for you to chat about the choice.

    And we’ll tell you if our program or another is best match for you or your family.  You see we’re not for everyone.  And we turn away students who aren’t a good match. We’re interested in being sure that we can meet and exceed your needs and expectations…for yourself and/or your child or children.  If we don’t think we can, we’ll tell you.

    And, before joining any program, including ours, make sure that you get a chance to see if we’re a perfect match.  Ask about their trial program and find out if it’s right for you.

    It’s a complicated choice.  So, we’ve compiled this Quick Guide to help guide you through what can seem like an overwhelming process.  Don’t sign up with any gym or program until you’ve thought and asked about these factors:

    What sort of facilities does the school provide?

    • Is there adequate and safe parking?
    • Is the training area safe:
    • Is it fully matted?
    • Is there plenty of room to move around?
    • Are there separate changing rooms and bathrooms for boys and girls?
    • Is there an observation area for parents to stay and watch classes?
    • Is there one-on-one meeting space where I can discuss my child’s progress?

    What are the qualifications of the Head Instructors?

    • How do I evaluate their level of expertise?
    • What is their martial arts rank?
    • How many years have they been teaching?
    • Do they teach other folks who have my same needs and concerns?
    • Do they teach children?  Are they experienced with the needs of your child?
    • Have they studied several disciplines to become better and more well rounded teachers?
    • How long have they been teaching?
    • Are they professional, full time instructors dedicated to the program and needs of your child?
    • Have they received instruction and certification as teachers and not just achieved a belt rank?  You see rank is important but you can have a high-ranking instructor with little experience and training as a teacher. You probably want both.  Rank AND skilled as an instructor.
    • Do the instructors use pre-determined, writtern class planners?
    • Do the instructors provide curriculum resources to the parents?

    What Sort of Programs does the school offer?

    • Does the school offer a pre-evaluation and trial program to help ensure that your child is enrolled in the best program, for them?
    • Does the school offer a structured, curriculum based belt progression system? This has been proven to help both children and adults to achieve their specific goals.
    • Does it offer well-developed and age-specific programs to meet the different needs of children?
    • Have they split the classes into a sufficient number of age-groups?
    • Will the students have the opportunity to become instructors and demonstrate leadership?
      • If so, what is the leadership development program?
    • Will the school, in addition to training them a instructors and leaders, provide recognition of that dedication and leadership when you or a child needs a letter of recommendation for school, a program, certification, or work?
    • Are there benefits to becoming an instructor?
    • Does the school teach life skills in addition to martial arts, fitness and self-defense?
    • Does the school have a robust schedule offering multiple class options per week?
    • Is the school atmosphere family oriented?

    Thinking about Getting Your Child Started? Here's what to do next: 

    1. Click the button below
    2. Get access to our class schedules and intro programs
    3. Call us for a free pre-evaluation or sign up for our Quick Start Confidence Course Online

    Sign up for the Quick Start Confidence Course Kids Karate martial Arts berwyn pa exton pa

  • When can I start BJJ sparring?

    Sparring, or rolling, is a large part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, however you will not be sparring until at least after your quick start course. You will start sparring when you are comfortable enough and are able to demonstrate some fundamental BJJ techniques.

  • Do I need prior martial arts experience to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

    Nope, you need to be ready, willing, and able to learn, practice, and work.   Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a great martial arts for total beginners to pick up, learn and practice for a life time.  At Dragon Gym we teach total beginners, world ranked competitors and everyone in between.   Plus, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is very different from "Traditional" Martial Arts and can be great compliment to hard-style martial arts like Karate or Tae Kwon Do as well as a combat sport like Muay Thai Kickboxing. 

  • Is BJJ a sport or self-defense?

    It’s both, BJJ sport requires some restrictions to be placed on the grappler for safety's sake. In self-defense those restrictions are lifted, some brazilian jiu jitsu techniques favor sport and others favor self-defense applications. 

  • What should I expect from learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

    That relies largely on the practitioner. If you practice inconsistently, then progress in BJJ will be slow and frustrating at best.  However, if you can come to class at least 2-3 times per week, BJJ can transform your life. BJJ is a grappling martial art predominantly, if you can handle someone actively trying to submit you on a regular basis and return the effort, then your perspective on most social interactions changes for the positive – you become hardened to adversity. You will become confident that you can defend yourself and physically you will become stronger and healthier.  Life starts to seem easier as you will look better, feel better and have a new confidence throughout your daily life. 

  • How Young Can Children Start Learning BJJ?

    In Brazil, many families start their kids in BJJ at a very young age.  However, due to a child's physical, social, intellectual and emotional stages of development we've found the best time to start formal Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes is around the age of 7.  At Dragon Gym we offer kids-specific BJJ classes and most of the kids in these classes are between 7 and 13 years old. 

  • Can my child also learn BJJ?

    Sure can! DG hosts kids specific Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes to help kids learn how to stand up for themselves, fend off bullies, and win competition.

  • Do Women Learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

    Without a doubt! DG has the most dedicated, motivated, and technically proficient grapplers out there. Almost 50% of the students that routinely compete are ladies.   Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is actually an ideal martial art for women interested in learning self-defense.  The technical nature of brazilian jiu jitsu means that a practicioner need not be strong or fast to be effective.  In fact, BJJ is known for its ability and effectiveness against larger and stronger opponents. 



  • How big are my child's classes and what's the student-instructor ratio?

    This is a very common question from parents looking for a quality martial arts program for their children.  After decades of working with kids and their parents we've come to see for most the real concern is to know that their child will get the individual attention and support he or she may need from the instructors.

    At the Dragon Gym, there are several ways that we assure this for you and your child, but before I get into those details, let me tell you that a large martial arts class is nothing to worry about as long as it is run in a well thought out and structured manner. The kids will actually benefit from the increased interaction and socialization. Plus, what determines a "large" class for 3 and 4 year olds, 5 and 6 year olds, 7 to 9 year olds, and 10 to 13 year olds is very different.

    Here's how we do it:

    # 1 -- All of our classes are age-specific, meaning 3 and 4 year olds are only with 3 and 4 year olds, 5 and 6 year olds are only with 5 and 6 year olds, 7 to 9 year olds are only with 7 to 9 year olds and 10 to 13 year olds are only with 10 to 13 year olds.

    # 2 -- Because the classes are age-specific the students are with other kids that are in the same physical, social, intellectual and emotional stages of the development and have similar needs and goals.  This is really works because our martial arts curriculum was designed from the research of developmental psychologists to target these aspects of a child's development.   This is not true from programs that lump a more spread out age group of kids into the same class.

    #3 -- Near Peer Mentoring.   One of the best ways for kids to learn is through what is called modeling.  Modeling takes place when a child emulates a slightly older or more advanced child that they look up to.  At the Dragon Gym we have an enrichment and mentorship track called the Junior Instructor Program.  This is a program where the older students receive additional instruction and the opportunity to develop and demonstrate leadership skills

    #4 -- Monthly Check-ins.   Our instructional staff will check-in with you and your child individually at least once a month to make sure his or her progress is on track and address any questions you have, or any obstacle he or she may be the dojang, at school or even at home.

    #5 -- Student / Instructor Ratio.  We employ several full time and professional martial arts instructors as well as many more part time instructors in all of our children's classes as well as limit class size.   The class size limit and student-teacher ratio is determined by the age group and you can be assured that your child will be getting the right amount of attention each and every class.