Best places to act like a ninja

Confidence, respect, leadership, focus—all skills we hope to instill in our kids (if not ourselves) every day. And there’s only so much Berenstain Bears that we can read.

Luckily, there’s something to save you from another adventure of Brother Bear. Martial arts teaches kids what it takes to be trailblazers on their own.

Check out some of these kid-friendly martial arts classes in the city.

1. Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts and Fitness

Locations in Lincoln Square and Old Irving Park. Two- week trial class available; degerbergacademy.com

Part of the school’s success is that the lessons extend to the home. “We want kids to have fun while learning martial arts and we want them to be successful in life overall,” says Daniel Brenka, general manager. A powerful example is the Degerberg Job List that teaches kids to be Triple A students in school, home and martial arts. Kids are even required to turn a Job List in every month. Mama Bear would be proud!

2. Thousand Waves Martial Arts& Self-Defense Center

1220 W. Belmont Ave.; thousandwaves.org

It specializes in teaching kids 4-17 Seido Karate, a traditional Japanese martial art that builds physical skill and character. At Thousand Waves, children also learn the Five Fingers of Self-Defense to deal with threats like bullying.

3. ATA Chicago

4433 N. Ravenswood Ave.; ata-chicago.com

Programs start at age 4. Chief Instructor Chris Beck believes Taekwondo helps develop not only physical skills, but also “life skills like respect for self and others, self-confidence, self-control and perseverance.” In addition to teaching “old-school manners,” it is also know for its programs for STEM and children with special needs.

Honorable mention:

S.H. Yu Martial Arts

6701 W. North Ave.

Just outside the city, in Oak Park, GrandMaster S.H. Yu has been teaching generations of kids traditional values.

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