Krissy Key from Greenville Martial Arts Center about keeping kids active after school. We talk about how to choose an activity that your kids will actually like and some of the pro’s and con’s to after school activities.
(Transcript has been cleaned up for clarity.)
Anja: Please give a warm welcome to Krissy Key, owner and operator of Greenville Martial Art Center on Roper Mountain Road and Feaster Road, right down the corner near Bucky’s BBQ. Welcome, Krissy, and thanks for joining us at 864Living!
Krissy: Thanks for having me, Anja! I’m so excited to be here!
Anja: Krissy, how long have you been in the Upstate?
Krissy: I have been… I was born and raised, went to Clemson University for college, came back, and I’m living and working in Simpsonville.
Anja: Awesome! So how did you first get into martial arts?
Krissy: I started in college as a senior. I did a little bit of Taekwondo in my freshman year and then in my senior year my friend says, “Hey, let’s go do this Hapkido thing,” and we never looked back.
Anja: How did you pick Hapkido?
Krissy: At the time Clemson had a student flyer, and it was just different from your Taekwondo’s or your Karate’s. Went to class; tried out a class. It was different, and we were learning practical self-defense, not so much hard punches and kicks, but using the opponent’s motion against themselves, but overall it was very fun and very interesting, something that we stuck with.
Anja: In round numbers, how long does that put you having done Hapkido? How many years in are you?
Krissy: We’ve been teaching and practicing for 13 years.
Anja: All right, that’s a pretty solid amount of time. So what belt does that put you at?
Krissy: Right now we’re currently second degree black belt, but we have tested for third degree. It takes about four to five years on average to accomplish the next level.
Anja: So you’re saying we. Is this the business partner? Who’s we?
Krissy: Right. So, a friend at the time, but now my husband, Chris. We started Hapkido together and have progressed, have maintained the same rank, and now we do Greenville Martial Art Center together.
Anja: I understand your school teaches both Hapkido and Taekwondo at this point. You want to talk a little bit about the differences between those two martial arts?
Krissy: Sure. They’re both traditional Korean martial arts. Our Taekwondo classes are going to be a little bit more heavy on the striking, very excellent for fitness, excellent for kids, excellent just to plan attention. Hapkido is all of those things also, but we will also focus more on practical self-defense. I’m walking down the street; someone looks a little shady. I get away; I put him on the ground. I get away; no one’s injured. I escape from danger.
Anja: Have you ever had to use your Hapkido out in the real world?
Krissy: So far I’ve not and that’s typical of martial artists. They carry an air of confidence.
Anja: So it’s really about being able to recognize these dangerous situations, and maybe avoid them to begin with, than, you know…
Anja: … going up and being the tuff guy and saying, “Don’t mess with me! I’m a black belt!”
Krissy: That’s right.
Anja: So you have two kids of your own.
Anja: Are they taking part in martial arts yet?
Krissy: Jason is just old enough to get started. He’s done a few classes. He’s not in it right now, but I think, as he gets older, he’ll be more interested and start to attend class a little bit more regularly.
Anja: And how old is Jason?
Krissy: Jason’s four. He’ll be five soon.
Anja: Okay. So is that a typical age to start martial arts, or what’s, I guess, the best age to really get started?
Krissy: Our school starts at preschool, age four, but really I see age five and older as seeing the most benefit.
Anja: Maybe you can talk a little bit about those benefits, like why is it a good idea for a kid to get involved in martial arts?
Krissy: Sure. There’s a lot of reasons to do martial arts. I’ll just name the top two—discipline and confidence. So, as kids progress through the curriculum, they’re focused on a curriculum, but what they’re learning is, you know, let me try that new skill again until I master it. And then I get to create a new goal, a new belt, and I learn some more skills, and I master those. And then, as I get into it a little bit, I can then in turn help my peers or newer students learn. It’s a cycle of increased discipline and increased confidence, and those life skills carry throughout school, home, adulthood.
Anja: Martial arts is obviously one of many possible after-school activities for a parent to help their kid choose. What role do you think martial arts, if any, plays sort of in that dialogue of, you know, what should kids be doing after school? How much activity should they be doing? How do we get kids more active; that sort of thing?
Krissy: I would definitely encourage parents and kids to look at an extracurricular after-school activity. I would keep it to two-three days of the week. You don’t need to be overscheduled, but there is room to come home, get your homework done, get out, and do this other activity. It will be with kids that are maybe not your school mates, so you’re meeting other kids, and it can be any activity. Obviously, we love martial arts. It could be soccer. It could be music. But you’re not at home on the couch, watching TV. You’re up, you’re active, you’re interacting, and overall that’s healthy for everybody.
Anja: In your opinion do you feel like the child should be part of the discussion of what’s done after school, or should the parent sort of look at the pros and cons of the different available activities and choose one for the child?
Krissy: The child definitely needs to be involved. If they are not interested in the activity that you are interested in, you’re both going to become frustrated. They’re not going to want to go, and it’ll just be wasted time, effort, money of that activity, so definitely get them involved; choose different activities to try. Many after-school activities will let you try a class or two for free, and usually you can gauge within that time if you’re interested or not really and keep looking.
Anja: So from Greenville Martial Arts Center’s perspective what are those options for being able to give an after-school program a try?
Krissy: Sure. If it’s our after-school program, you could do a drop-in to try a day, and then we also have evening class and you can try out a class of Hapkido, a class of Taekwondo, and just really meet the teachers, see our space, enjoy it, and go from there.
Anja: After school… I mean, there are so many homes now where there are either two working parents, or there’s one parent and that parent works, so when you’re talking about an after-school activity that’s off-site from the school, how do you handle the transportation of the kids if that might be in the middle of the parents’ work day?
Krissy: For Greenville Martial Arts After-school Program we pick up your child from school. We take them back to our school. We have homework time, snack time, structured activity, and wrap up the day with the martial arts class where they’ll be learning skills to progress through the belts. We’re open Monday through Saturday. We have our after-school program, as you mentioned, again, from pick up to 6 pm, or we have a full range of evening classes that start at 6 and end at 8 pm, so really whatever your schedule or your convenience, we have classes available.
Anja: Are there any classes that would allow a family to come and practice together, or do you kind of have to separate things by age groups?
Krissy: We have both. We have all-belt or family classes, and you have elementary, middle school kids and their parents, all doing it together, and they love doing that. We also have classes broken out by age. Some of the adults like to practice with adults.
Anja: So how often does the belt progression happen?
Krissy: Sure. Belting up is exciting. Depending… we’ll have a rank test three to four times a year, so three to four times a year you’re learning a new set of skills, mastering them, do your belt test with our grand masters, and then continue practicing the old skills while also learning some new skills.
Anja: So, Krissy, what we love about the guests on the show is that they’re all Upstate residents, and I think you are the first person that we’ve talked to that is a Greenville native. So what I would love to ask you is what is your favorite thing about living in the Upstate?
Krissy: The openness, the greenery, the parks; downtown revitalize has been amazing. Amazing little coffee shops to try; going down to the Reedy River and waiting around, and overall Greenville is a good community to be in.
Anja: And what, in your opinion, is the Upstate’s best-kept secret?
Krissy: My kids and I, we love the Ice Cream Station down here in Simpsonville. It’s right on the railroad tracks; very good ice cream, open tables, and there’s just tons of families that come and sit outside and eat ice cream. It’s not expensive, so you can go once a week, if you like, with the kids; very kid- and family-friendly.
Anja: All right! Well, thank you so much, Krissy, for giving us an insight into kids after-school activities, and keeping kids active, and how martial arts might be able to affect a child’s life. If you have any parting words, then maybe just tell our listeners how they can get ahold of you or how they can come in and give martial arts a try.
Krissy: Sure. In general, parents get out there and do activities with your kids. It’s absolutely more fun being involved with them, not sitting on the sidelines. As for me and Greenville Martial Arts Center, you can find us on the web at www.gmac.ninja. And our phone number is 864 881-1397. We offer a free trial class. Just come in, see if you like us, meet the teachers, and go from there.
Anja: Awesome! Well, thank you so much, Krissy!
Krissy: Thank you, Anja!