Little Tigers

Tigers Overview

Yes Sir” responded the class as the attentive students bowed humbly to the instructor.  This simple act of respect takes place in thousands of dojangs around the world, but in a training hall in McKinney, Texas, the students are a tad different.  They are members of the Vasquez “Little Tigers” Class and their ages vary from four to six years-old.  Mrs. Carolina Vasquez began this program in 1996, and over the last 13 years the program has became a big success not only with the young students but with their parents as well.

Some strict traditionalist in the martial arts have criticized school owners and instructors for offering classes for preschoolers, citing that children of that young of an age do not understand the traditions, philosophy or meaning of martial arts.  This may in fact, be true, but the British Heart Foundation conducted studies that  demonstrated the positive mental and physical benefits of highly structured training for young children.
They are: increasing bone density, reducing anxiety, improving body image and mood, developing physical fitness, and promoting weight control.

The Health Education Authority, the leading body in health program in Great Britain, recommends that children should participate in moderate activity for one hour every day and at least twice a week, take part in an activity to improved muscular strength, flexibility and bone health-areas in which the physical application of martial arts, and especially Taekwondo, excel. Traditional Taekwondo classes are very structured, involved discipline and are made up of various age group

Instructors of preschoolers have modified their classes to provide age appropriate instruction. In the Little Tigers class, the instructors still maintain discipline (though not as strict) and the child can learn at his or her own pace

“Discipline is very important, but we also want to stimulate their desire to learn, “according to Mrs. Vasquez.  We must provide an atmosphere that keeps them wanting to continue and learn more.”

One of the first skills taught to the Little Tigers is how to enter the dojang and walk on to the mat.  The youngsters bow upon walking through the entry to the training hall, and bow to their senior black belts.

They take their positions and stand at attention with feet together and hands at their sides.  They are taught always to bow to their Master Instructor Vasquez Sr. (Chief Instructor of the Vasquez Taekwondo Academy) and senior belts, whether they encounter them in the dojang or in other areas of the facility.

Classes are held four days a week, at the Main Gym on Mondays through Thursday in VTA's own dedicated Tiger's practice room. As you can seen in the picture below, the color schemes and equipment are all tailor made to make ever tiger want to come back time and time again

The Little Tigers  look forward to board breaking on test day and step up to the challenge with enthusiasm and focus.  The look on a child's face upon breaking his or her first board is unforgettable; it is one of the best methods to develop perseverance and self-confidence. Once the student accomplishes the break with a step behind side-sidekick which is designed for their age group-the student bows to the instructor gives the broken board to the student, the student is taught to receive the board with feet together and both hands together with palms facing upward. They are taught that in the martial arts, it is considered bad manners to grab or take an item from someone. The Tigers are taught proper etiquette and are learning to become true martial artists.  

Parents are encouraged to observe the Little Tigers class and some parents also take their own Taekwondo or Haidong Gumdo lessons at the Academy.  The parents have expressed their praise and enthusiasm for the Little Tigers class.

Mrs. Davidson has two children, Michael and Matthew, in class.  Mrs. Davidson says “It is the best class activity that they have been involved in.”Mrs. Faldlyn stated that her son, Brenner, is developing new skills faster than she expected. She said that her son can count to ten in Korean and can recite the Tenets of Taekwondo.  Mom reports that Tanner, who is four, has been teaching his little friends what he has been learning in class.

Another of our moms is Mrs. Kennedy who is a Pediatric Physical Therapist. "The Little Tigers class has been a huge benefit to my two children's balance, coordination, and strength. My son Nathan has always had physical challenges because he is so tall and grows so fast. This program has helped him immensely".

For anyone interested in further information, or who wants to come by the school to see it for themselves, you can click here, or contact Mrs. Vasquez via phone 972-548-8275 or email at cvasquez13@vasquez-taekwondo.com .