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Why kids martial arts classes should be like Nickelodeon’s Doug

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. If this song rings a bell, then you’ll enjoy this article. Before talking about how kids martial arts programs are related to Doug, let me share some points from Doug you may not remember:

  • Doug was about an 11 year old boy named Doug Funnie moving to Bluffington with his family. The show is about him going to school, making new friends, getting bullied and of course about him having a crush on Patti.

  • Nickelodeon originally owned the show, but later sold it to Disney and with that, there were a lot of shakeups such as the length of segments, writing and voice actors.

  • The man who voices Doug, Billy West, is a famous voice actor and is also the voice of these characters: Fry, Prof. Farnsworth and Zoidburg from Futurama, the Red M&M and the Honey Nut Cheerios bee.

Now, when Doug was started, the creator, Jim Jinkins, wanted to do things a little different. Namely, he had two small ideas that were very user focused for children. These points can actually be applied to how a kids martial arts program should be handled:



Before Disney purchased Doug, one 22 minute episode was actually broken up into two 11 minute segments. The reason for this is because the kids watching had not yet developed the attention span of adults. So to keep the show engaged and entertaining, each episode was really two mini episodes packaged into one. However, when Disney purchased Doug, they decided to mess with the formula and instead of two 11 minute episodes, Doug was one 22 minute episode. You may have never realized it, but go back and look for a Nickelodeon branded Doug episode…not a Disney one.

Similarly, kids are kids and need the same experience. Just like when you were a kid who only had an 11 minute attention span, your kids have the same attention span. With that, kids classes should be broken down into several smaller portions. For our classes, we follow this template to keep our kids entertained:

  1. Warm up exercises (11 min)

  2. Technique part 1 (11 min)

  3. Technique part 2 (11 min)

  4. Sparring/ Drilling (11 min)

  5. Game (11 min)

​Now the 11 minute part doesn’t have to be rule, but more of a guide. The point is to make it an effort to really break down the activities by evenly timed activities. When you go beyond this time, kids usually start to show loss of interest and engagement and may disrupt other kids and it becomes a huge snowball affect . The point is to really commit to several shorter sessions with breaks in between to mentally reset the kids before the next section.



The Nickelodeon writing team was committed to this mission- teach children one valuable lesson per 11 minute section. For example, Doug realizes a lesson on making friends with Skeeter, handling bullying from Roger and is always very self-reflective. By striving to teach a lesson to children, parents approved of the show too, but children internalized the lessons just by watching the show.

​When it comes to kids jiu jitsu, kids kickboxing or any kids martial art, the instructors should be like the writing team for Doug- focused on teaching only one lesson. Kids are still developing cognitively and you can’t expect them to absorb information as quickly and as easily as adults. Instead, the goal should be to make sure that each child has learned one new thing and internalized it in that 11 minute session.

Ineffective kids martial arts programs try to show way too much to kids in one sitting. They treat kids as if they are mini adults and pour way too much information into an hour. Then, the instructors of those programs get frustrated when kids want to play or are not paying attention. Instead of getting frustrated, those instructors should show more empathy and adjust the curriculum and format of their classes to meet the abilities of KIDS for a KIDS martial arts program. It’s very frustrating to see instructors getting upset at kids when they disguise an adult martial arts program as a kids’ one.



Just like the points mentioned above, the goal of this article was to give parents a brief guide on what to look out for when searching for a kids program and to give kids martial arts instructors some advice we have gained. Ultimately, the goal is to be a positive impact in a child’s life and we want to make sure everyone is best equipped to do that. Now, go some food at Honker burger.


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