Developing Life Skills Early: Our Tigers Program


Here’s a tip: If you are interested in enrolling your preschooler in Tae Kwon-Do, and the dojang instructor or owner tells you that there are five-year-olds at their school who can defend themself against an adult, turn around and run away as fast as you can.

You’ll be demonstrating the only thing a five-year-old can actually do to defend themself against an adult.

Unlike some other dojangs, we don’t make outrageous claims about our Tigers program, which is the class we have developed for 3-5 year old students. We also don’t work our Tigers to exhaustion. Some schools talk about having Tigers come in five times a week. 

Our Tigers class runs once a week, on Saturday mornings. It is a mild introduction to the martial arts world, and to developing self-confidence, self-discipline, and focus through the various drills, exercises, and games that we play. 

While we do teach Tigers a few things that would help them defend themselves from being picked up off the ground by an adult, we’re mostly just developing tools that they’re going to be able to use later in life and in their training. They will be able to use some of them now. These include being polite, practicing good manners, learning to do chores. They’ll also gain a bit of discipline, physical fitness and now, socialization, which is more important than ever now due to the pandemic.

One unintended benefit of the pandemic to our Tigers class is that the class has evolved into more of a “Mommy/Daddy & Me” class. Parents are now joining their children in class with us. 

It began out of necessity. We had to find a way to limit instructor contact with multiple children. As a parent, you know that when there are a lot of little kids running around, it’s like herding cats sometimes. Parent participation helps us to continue to offer the class while operating it safely. 

However, so much more has come out of this parent involvement than we expected. Now, we have the parents there to help position the kids, fix their hands, and so forth. The added benefit is that when they go home, parents can actually help their child practice. 

Through this, parents are gaining first-hand knowledge and appreciation of what we’re doing here at the dojang. They’re learning the concepts behind what we’re teaching. It helps parents understand that Tae Kwon-Do is so much more than simply learning to kick and punch.

One major aspect of our Tigers program that sets it apart from others is that we have an “Earn my Uniform” process. 

Most schools give out a uniform on day one. We make each Tiger take at least two classes and then display something that they’ve learned in order to earn their first uniform. It all goes back to the goal-setting and goal-achieving mindset we promote. 

Doing this gives students a sense of pride in their uniform. Our uniforms have my name on the back in the form of our school insignia. They’re worth more than just money. They represent me and the dojang. So I’m careful whom I allow to wear one. (If someone is looking for a cool way to get a halloween costume, they can look elsewhere.)

By the end of the program, your child earns a belt. At that point, they are prepared to move on to the second level of Tiger and continue down the path of learning, eventually graduating into the regular program. 

We accept students into the regular program at age 6. Occasionally, we make an exception for age 5. Those exceptions aside, at the end of Tigers your child is ready to move up to the regular program. They have the basics, they have the discipline, their confidence is up. 

We have also noticed increased longevity with those students who started out as Tigers. Some of our instructors, like Mr. Kaleb (in the image above) for example, began here as Tigers, and are now teaching classes of their own! It’s rewarding for me to witness these transformations, however, I’m sure that doesn’t compare to the feeling you as a parent have when you see your child succeed year over year. It all starts with a simple first step, the Tigers program.


Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!


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