If every pencil, ruler or ear of corn becomes a potential weapon in the hands of your young swashbuckler, it may be time for a sword or stage combat class where those instincts can be channeled in a fun and productive way. Japanese and Korean martial art traditions stress the "art" of sword play as well as the importance of respect for the weapons and the opponent. Plus kids can improve their body mechanics, breathing patterns, agility and speed in a safe space with trained instructors.
Here are three places where New York City kids can work on their sword play and stage combat skills—far away from your fine china. You can find lots of other offbeat and enriching programs for children in our Classes Guide.
Sword Class NYC – Midtown West
Ripley Greer Studio, 520 Eighth Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets
Founded in 2009, this program combines several Eastern and Western sword-style traditions. Siljun Dobup is the study of the curved Japanese sword known as a katana; German Longsword is rooted in fencing; and finally, Kendo, or the Japanese "way of the sword", encourages a strong spirit, healthy body and sharp mind. Students practice barefoot and use an iaito, or blunted metal practice sword, which is provided for beginners. Drop-ins are allowed provided there's room and no long-term commitment is required.
New York Budokai – Midtown West
Ripley Grier Studio, 520 Eighth Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets
Ages 12 and up
Run by dedicated volunteer instructors, this program teaches traditional Japanese sword fighting aka "iaido, the art of drawing the sword." Intro classes cost $25 and if you continue there are monthly dues which help defray the cost of renting space and buying equipment. Young students are assessed in the first session for maturity and developmental appropriateness. While officially New York Budokai is aimed at ages 12 and up, tweens who are serious about studying can attend with an adult chaperon. A practice iaito (sword) and a bokken (wooden practice sword) are provided.
Yoshi Amao – East Village
Peridance Capezio Center, 126 East 13th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues
Yoshi Amao is the leader of a performance troupe called Samurai Sword Soul. His classes consist of basic sword techniques such as gripping, breathing, yelling, cutting, stances and footwork. It is both a martial and performing art as students learn choreographed routines.
Find out about other offbeat kids' programs in our Classes Guide.
This post originally published in September 2013.