By Nick Bez
Martial arts are an ancient approach to training one’s body and mind to effectively wield powerful methods of self-defense. In the generations since their origin, the teachings of Karate, Kung Fu, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Muay Thai, and other similar disciplines have evolved to become more practically applicable methods for individuals of all ages and backgrounds to navigate the world with a sense of safety, respect, and community, all while experiencing the physical benefits of the arts.
Personal safety, self-respect, respect for others, and an understanding of an inclusive, hard-working community are just some of the reasons parents across the globe enroll their children in martial arts programming. Whether the discipline focuses on striking and blocking or grappling and wrestling, experts agree that martial arts are incredibly effective in developing a child’s ability to concentrate, socialize, and strategize. Additionally, kid’s martial arts programming is proving itself to be a fantastic tool for combating childhood obesity and attention or hyperactivity disorders such as ADD and ADHD.
In no particular order, here are the top 7 reasons parents told us their kids hit the martial arts mats:
#1: Anti-bullying & Self-Confidence
Through the process of learning new techniques and progressing through belt levels, children who are involved in martial arts feel a sense of accomplishment that helps solidify their self-esteem. This positions them to respond to peer-pressure and bullying in non-violent, healthy, and effective ways. Ultimately, their sense of accomplishment follows them far beyond their martial arts school or dojo.
#2: Self-Discipline & Concentration
From the upkeep of their Gi or uniform to the customs and techniques found in martial arts, there are a variety of opportunities and challenges to keep children focused on the beginning, middle, and end of tasks and progressions. The repetition of some activities and responsibilities, paired with the ever changing nature of others, further instills work ethic and a balanced sense of effort and reward. This aides them in school and at home as much, if not more so than, as it does in their training.
Long before leg-locks, throws, or strikes are addressed, a quality martial arts program addresses the topic of respect for oneself, others, and possessions. Children often follow a routine of respect that involves bowing to their teachers, sparring partners, and opponents as well as properly maintaining training equipment. These practices assist children in developing healthy and respectful relationships with adults, peers, and the world around them.
#4: Fitness & Health
The list of reasons it’s important to engage kids in healthy physical fitness activities seems to get longer with each passing week. Kids martial arts programming recognizes and responds to this through the various types of warm up activities, such as stretching, push-ups, jumping jacks, etc., paired with the martial art itself. This combination of art and activity challenges children’s muscular and cardiovascular systems. Many martial arts programs also emphasis the importance of eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting appropriate amounts of rest.
#5: Self Defense
While we hope they’ll never have to use it, there is something to be said of preparation. Should your child ever find themselves in a situation where physical force is required to protect themselves, or another, martial arts teaches skills that can level the playing field, or give a significant advantage. Often, the arts compensate for size differences between individuals and position those who use it for the best possible outcome.
#6: Teamwork & Socialization
Early involvement in an inclusive, hard-working, and positively focused community reinforces parents’ efforts to teach children effective communication skills and how to lead and follow as a member of a team, all while reducing the chances of them becoming involved with the wrong crowds or activities, or being found in the wrong places at the wrong times.
#7: Having Fun!!!
Engaged children learn more, faster. Good kids martial arts programming understands this and balances the responsibilities and traditions of the art with challenges, games, and socially focused events to keep kids engaged in the lessons and the community.
Getting Your Child Involved
Interested in getting your son or daughter involved in martial arts? A great first step is doing a little bit of research. The impact martial arts has on your child will largely be influenced by the “Master” or “Professor” running the program. We recommend asking other parents in your peer group, observing a class (many, many, facilities actually have specific viewing area for parents to watch lessons and competitions), and talking to the instructors at the facility so that you can get a well-rounded sense of where your child will have the greatest success!