Youth & Teen Martial Arts at the JCC Indianapolis

Youth Martial Arts Classes at the JCC Indianapolis

The JCC Indianapolis has a long-standing relationship–more than 35 years–with Master Jean-Pierre Decaudin for Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido. He’s combined two ancient Korean disciplines of combat and self-defense with sport and exercise to create a class for youth and adults that’s challenging and provides a great workout. Tae Kwon Do, or the “way of the foot and the hand,” and Hapkido, or the “way of harmony,” emphasize good health, happiness, generosity, independence, and coexistence.

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What to Expect

Join the hundreds who have studied under Master Jean-Pierre. Some of his current students benefit from his sessions so much that they have continued taking the class for several years!

This class is large enough and Master Jean-Pierre is experienced enough to tailor activities for both youth (ages 13+) and adults.

The class meets twice a week for 1.5-2 hours for 13-15 weeks every fall and spring (a total of 24-28 class sessions depending on holidays).

Tae Kwon Do uniforms (typically called a dobok) are usually a plain white, v-neck, heavy cotton top with pants that have an elastic waist. The top is similar to a jacket, open in the front. It is tied together by a belt.

This style of clothing for Tae Kwon Do uniforms serves two purposes:

  1. Everyone is wearing the same clothing. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. Everyone is equal. The only thing that distinguishes one from another is the color of the belt.
  2. The top and pants are both comfortable and allow a lot of movement, a definite necessity of Tae Kwon Do to make practicing much easier.

Belts are used not only for closing the top, but also for signifying your skill level. As you progress, you will get a new belt signifying your advancing skills as a practitioner. Beginners all start with a white belt.

A promotion test is given every three months for Tae Kwon Do students. Students must participate in the Tae Kwon Do class to take Hapkido.

Master Jean-Pierre Decaudin

Master Jean-Pierre emphasizes that there is a great deal of mental involvement in addition to techniques, physical abilities, and being able to defeat an opponent. “You learn to transform your hands and your feet into weapons and to be able to use them as such, but at the same time, as you go up in belt levels, we reinforce the importance of the responsibility that having these abilities requires,” he said.

Along with responsibility (and discipline and good citizenship), the main mental focus that Master Jean-Pierre imparts to his students is respect. “I like to remind students that they must respect all black belts and bow to them, but black belts must also bow back to them, as respect is a two-way street,” he said.

Master Jean-Pierre is retired and enjoys working out at the Mordoh Fitness Center and working around the house in his free time. He has also been a member of the Indiana Guard Reserve since 2012 and is proud to serve the people of Indiana and the United States.

Read more about Master Jean-Pierre and the class at

Youth Karate

The JCC has a long-standing relationship–more than 35 years–with Master Mike Marienthal who teaches karate for kids. His classes emphasize self-defense, coordination and focus, as well as a system of self-development using kicks and punches. Karate’s quick, sharp actions involve snapping movements, so he makes sure that kids warm up carefully.

What to Expect

Master Mike tailors his class for youth karate class for ages 4-13. There is a beginner class and an advanced class for those who want to continue learning after completing the beginner course.

The class meets once a week for 40 minutes every fall and spring for six weeks.

A formal Japanese name for a karate uniform is KarateGi (‘g’ as in ‘game’ and pronounced “gee”), which is used for both practice and competition. Most karate uniforms are made from a light canvas-style cloth that is durable for rigorous use. Consisting of a loose-cut jacket and pants, the karate uniform is designed for range of motion and comfort. The jacket is typically held closed by a cotton rank belt, usually denoting the student’s rank in their particular martial art.

Belts are used not only for closing the top but also for signifying your skill level. As you progress, you will get a new belt signifying your advancing skills as a practitioner.

Register now using our online registration tool.

Please note that there is an additional $30 fee for students ready for an end-of-session promotional test.

Master Mike Marienthal

Master Mike notes that kids have a lot of energy; they’re jumping and moving around a lot. “Martial arts is a movement activity, but there are also times when you have to go slow. You have to go slow and practice slowly, which teaches you patience,” he said.

Master Mike is a fixture at the JCC. He’s been teaching Karate for Kids at the JCC for 35 years and 20 years before that, attended preschool here!

Read more about Master Mike and the Youth Karate class at

Fitness Is a Core Jewish Value

At the JCC, fitness classes aren’t just something we do; it’s who we are. Although exercise is not mentioned in the Torah, taking care of one’s health is. In fact, while other belief systems advocate for the healing power of prayer, Judaism encourages people to look after their health and seek counsel from medical experts. In Judaism, good health is not a goal in itself; rather, it is a means to an end – to serve the Creator.

We offer sports and fitness activities for youth beginning as young as 3 years old as enrichment for one of our core membership groups: families.

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