Our Little Dragons program is intended for children ages 4 - 6. We run their own program of activities designed especially for this age group. We do some traditional Tang Soo Do with the Dragons, but stick to the basics. Patterns, such as our tradition forms, are too complex for children this age.
So, instead we teach their own system of patterns which starts out with Star Block Set, done totally in place. Once they master Star Block set, we add movement to the forms, then to more complex patterns as children grow older and more able to follow longer sequences.
Some games we play with them are aimed at building coordination and confidence as you can see in the obstacle course to the right and the balance beam below. Others teach them our Tang Soo Do skills while they are having fun.
For example, in Black Belt Says (our version of Simon Says) we start by showing as well as saying the technique in both English and Korean. As the students hear the terms repeatedly they can eventually perform the technique hearing only the Korean term.
Little Dragons have their own belt system of camouflage belts with colored stripes, seen to the right. It is not official gup rank. Think of it as pre-school. When the student is ready s/he will be promoted into the regular gup system as a 9th gup, the first rank after white belt.
However, with their own camouflage belt promotions, they are rewarded for their work and love the ceremony of receiving a new belt. Plus, they learn the protocol of coming up to face the black belts in a belt exam or awards.
The program takes a maximum 28 months to complete. Children who start this program at the age four are more likely to go all the way to "The Total Dragon Belt", grading up through all 10 Dragon belts. A child who starts in the program at six years old will move into the Children's program sooner, perhaps after only a few months.
We transition students to Children's class when they are ready. We do prefer to err on the side of caution. Moving up too soon can overwhelm children and de-motivate them. When they are ready, they will attend Children's classes wearing their Dragon Belt, and then test into the program as a 9th gup orange belt.