Five reasons your child should practice martial arts

Five reasons your child should practice martial arts

I’m lucky enough to be able to assist in teaching a class that has students aged from 5 right through to 60+. What never ceases to amaze me is how much development the young children can bring from their martial arts training into their school, home life and personality. Children engaging in an environment built on respect, humility, challenging yourself and supporting others creates a positive environment for them to thrive.

Here a just a few reasons to get your child involved, and I’m not even touching on self defence.

*all advantages listed are just as prominent for adults taking up a martial art.

 

Confidence

Watching a very shy child come out of their shell is a beautiful thing. Martial arts training pushes comfort zones and rewards the growth that comes from it. Parents of children burst with happiness seeing them develop, entering tournaments where they need to perform in a ring on their own and screaming out a kiai to the judges and the crowd louder than they would yell at their sibling for hiding their favourite toy, amazing! Watching a young boy or girl putting on the new coloured belt they have just earned or walking up to receive their first tournament medal has them glowing with pride. This so easily transfers into school life where they may have been to shy to stand up and talk or read to the class, once a child has the confidence to perform in front of judges and a crowd, they open up so many other opportunities to perform and feel the reward that comes with it.

Discipline

Let’s start off with a mischievous little terror with an attention span of 3 minutes. Let’s move a few moths down the track to see that they have developed the discipline to stand in ready position while Sensei speaks, respond to instructions (whether they like them or not) with an enthusiastic “hai” (meaning yes) and following it with commitment to do well. I always notices with my youngest brother when he was in primary school that whenever a big national tournament or grading was coming up and he was putting in more effort at training, that suddenly his room would be that little bit tidier, that he didn’t need to be nagged to get his homework done and his overall focus was improved. The transfer of behavioural change could not be missed.

Goal setting

As karate and many other martial arts have grading systems, it is a great tool to introduce goal setting to children. To be able to pass their next grading their techniques need to be stronger, they need to learn a new, more complex Kata (routine/sequence of movements) and they need to show a higher level of understanding and focus. Between grading intervals, simply looking up the line in class at higher grades who are able to do more advanced movements and drills can be a huge motivator to keep pushing themselves.

Sportsmanship

Traditional martial arts all have a strong emphasis on sportsmanship. If your child is competing, they’re going to learn how to win and be humble about it, and more importantly how to lose and see the lessons in the loss, rather than the excuses or place to send blame. They learn to bow to their opponent, shake their hand and sit back with the group in the same fashion whether they won or lost that bout. Then they are encouraged to take the time to understand what they did well and what they can do better next time, once again – whether they won or lost.

There are a lot of adults in the world who could’ve done with being taught how to win, lose and take the time to self analyse when they were younger. Putting your child in this environment and encouraging these same principles in the rest of their life will make them a better person as an adult, whether they continue training in martial arts or not.

Role models

The age ranges I mentioned at the beginning of this post are a huge advantage to your child. Having older children and adults to look up to who are constantly pushing themselves to do well, encouraging others and living with the benefits of already completing the levels of training your child is at, is huge. There are so many ‘bad’ role models to influence children. The “coolest kids” are usually little a**holes that back chat and bully, social media prays on their insecurities and teaches them unrealistic expectations and life goals. Having kids interact with adults on an equal ground where everyone is learning from each other and no single student knows who else might be looking up to them is also a call for them to be a good role model them selves as they move up their grades and along the line.

I train with a couple who started karate to have an activity to share with their grandchildren, they have both achieved their black belts and compete at tournaments in the veterans division. Now I don’t have to expand too much on that for you to understand that their grandchildren (and just about everyone who knows or trains with them) cant help but be inspired. That couple are like honorary grandparents to me and so many other students and to part of  a community like that is truly something special.

 

Let me know what you think! Have you seen a difference in your own child or yourself since taking up karate or another traditional martial art?

2 Replies to “Five reasons your child should practice martial arts”

  1. ” Five reasons why your child should practice Martial Arts”
    As a Sempai at our dojo, I have had the privilege of watching and helping shy kids blossom into confident ones. They are usually the ones that are dragged along to their very first class, by their parents. With the hope that maybe it will help them overcome their shyness. We have a little girl “A”, who recently came to our dojo on a trial class, and she was literally holding onto her mother’s legs for dear life at first. And we found ways to help her overcome her fears of being alone, and we took things very slowly, with lots of encouragement. She has recently become a gold member, and is training every week. It is so wonderful watching her gain more confidence in her abilities and interacting with her classmates who are extremely supportive and patient with her ( which also makes me very proud to see ). Martial arts is a great way for kids to explore their true potential. It is for everyone 🙂

  2. I totally agree on all points- it’s so great to see their little faces all serious with concentration. Can’t wait for my little boy to be old enough to start.
    Great blog!