At Foundation we run our Parent Workshops several times throughout the year, they normally replace the lesson schedule and to be honest we think they’re a pretty big deal. If you’re new to the club you might be wondering what they’re about and why we do them, hopefully this will help.

Most weeks the kids class is pretty large, and we’re delighted that so many of you choose to make Foundation a part of your weekly routine, but because of this the time we get to spend with our students is limited. It’s difficult to give each child a lot of one-to-one attention.

Back in 2013 we recognised there was a need to look at new ways of engaging with our students and we had a lightbulb moment — The best way for us to consistently support your children is by teaching you.

The best way for us to consistently support your children is by teaching you.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about dragging you on to the mat, working through the syllabus and handing you a belt, far from it. What we do is teach you some really simple drills disguised as games that you can then use to teach your children effective ways to control a confrontational situation.


Control is the keyword here, we won’t teach our students to kick and punch their way out of a confrontation, this is bad idea on so many levels.

First off, you can’t expect a child as young as 4 or 5 to exercise restraint, or understand when to stop hitting. It’s also far too easy for a child using strikes to become the aggressor and we’re not interested in creating bullies. We want our students to understand that there are better ways to protect themselves, we want our students to control the situation but there is one huge thing stopping them and that is fear.

Regardless of the situation, regardless of what a student has learned, practiced and drilled (almost to the point of becoming an instinct) they will never use what they know because they’re afraid. This is a fear of repercussions from you, their school or even the police.

So how do we remove this fear? We give them a framework, a set of guidelines to operate within. A way of knowing what they can do, when they can do it and reassurance that if they ever need to use what they know, you will always back them up.

The Rules of Engagement

The Gracie Academy call this framework the Rules of Engagement. The name’s a bit too military for me, but the concept is sound and Ryron and Rener Gracie have refined the idea perfectly down to five simple rules:

  1. Avoid the fight at all costs.
  2. If physically attacked, defend yourself.
  3. If verbally attacked, follow the Three T-steps (talk, tell, tackle).
  4. Never punch or kick, establish control and negotiate.
  5. When applying submissions use minimal force and negotiate.

Pretty simple right? There’s lots more context to these which I‘ll talk about another time but the important thing is having this. You might not agree with them, you might want to add, change or scrap them for you own. That’s great, just make sure you have your own and your child knows what they can do to defend themselves and that they will always have your support.

Keeping It Fun, Keeping It Playful

Thats the real goal here, we want our students to associate martial arts with play. A positive experience, one they want to do. We want your children to be pestering you to play that ‘game’ you played the other day with them in training.

So when you’re on the mat, from the outset, try to remember that this is all just play. I know it can be frustrating sometimes but keep saying to yourself “there’s no wrong way of doing this, there are no expectations here, we’re just having fun!”.

Keep saying to yourself “there’s no wrong way of doing this, there are no expectations here, we’re just having fun!”

Try not to focus too much on correcting the tiny details of a drill or technique, that can all come later. Instead, focus on making sure your child is happy and enjoying themselves. We want everyone to leave the dojo with a smile, because we know that if you do we’re well on the way to building successful, confident students.