What Every Parent Should Know about Martial Arts for Kids

What Every Parent Should Know about Martial Arts for Kids

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Many parents who have no previous experience with martial arts often have reservations about enrolling their child in a martial arts program.  Let’s face it.  Popular media often portrays the martial arts as a savage, aggressive activity that glorifies violence, power, brutality, and destruction.

The practical reality is that for the vast majority of practicing martial artists, nothing could be further from the truth.   And frankly, the entertainment industry is not entirely to blame for this distorted view.  The marketing efforts of some school owners actually promote this view in an effort to market themselves to the X-box generation.

If you, as a parent, are looking for an activity that promotes discipline, respect, and proper etiquette while building self-confidence, fitness, flexibility and courage in your children, then look no further than your local martial arts school.  Martial arts and kids are a terrific combination.  Martial arts is a structured physical activity that will promote a healthy lifestyle, help control excess weight and improve flexibility.  Kids in martial arts improve their confidence, increase their focus and develop more self-control.

By learning how to defend themselves, your children will develop confidence in their ability to handle life’s many challenges. As a result, their self-confidence will give them the courage to say “no” to negative influences, like gangs, drugs or alcohol.   By giving them clear goals and showing them how to reach those goals through hard work and consistency, martial arts will help your child increase their focus.   By learning how important it is to have respect, both for themselves and for others, kids gain self-control.  Martial arts training teaches children that in order to get respect, first you have to give it. Once your child learns this important lesson, their self-control will naturally increase.

Discipline is desperately needed in all areas of life at all ages, from grade school student to adult. Discipline is “doing what you must do, when you have to do it, whether you feel like it or not.”  The challenging exercises of martial arts training will give your child a vehicle to develop this essential life skill.  As adults we know that life can be difficult, and is quite a struggle at times. The person who is accustomed to overcoming obstacles and has developed the habit of facing difficulties head-on is the one who is more likely to succeed. This is why it is so important to acquire that habit of courage early on, so that as they grow, they can more easily face those challenges with a positive outlook and a self assurance that they can be overcome.

The research bears this out.  A 2001 study published in the psychology journal Adolescence showed a vast improvement in good behavior and a noticeable reduction in violent behavior among children who took martial arts classes for just 90 minutes a week.   Another article published in Adolescence in 1998 described how martial arts programs decrease violent behavior in children and teens. A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology showed that children who participated in martial art training had better behavior and higher scores on a mental math test.  The Magazine for Physical Therapy praised martial art training as a helpful activity for special needs children. An article in the December 2002 issue of The International Journal of Contemporary Family Therapy recommended families take martial art classes because of the many positive effects martial arts training provides to family members.

So parents, go with confidence.  Martial arts for kids is a worthwhile pursuit.  Your children will benefit developmentally while having FUN.  They will reap the benefits of a physical activity that will strengthen their bodies, improve their flexibility, burn off calories, and sharpen them mentally.  You will benefit knowing that you are providing a positive pastime for your kids, that will last a lifetime.

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