In a culture that seems to glorify violence in everything from music to video games and television shows, the idea of enrolling your child in martial arts training classes doesn’t always seem like a good one. While martial arts-centered action films seem to be filled to the brim with violent behavior and gory injuries, you may be surprised to learn that martial arts’ training is actually very beneficial to kids. Like so many other things that Hollywood doesn’t always get right, martial arts isn’t quite the brutal, vicious pastime that it seems. In fact, these are 10 of the reasons why you may want to consider martial arts training for your kids.
- Fostering Self-Discipline – One of the central tenets of all forms of the martial arts is an absolute focus on self-discipline. Today’s kids are so accustomed to receiving instant gratification that lessons in self-restraint and discipline aren’t always easy to come by. Kids with a martial arts background, however, are continually reminded of how essential self-discipline is.
- Boosting Socialization Skills – Kids who don’t always thrive in highly social environments may find it easier to get to know people and make new friends when they’re in a room filled with peers who share a common interest. The kids on the playground may not always have much common ground, but devotees to the martial arts are able to get to know one another through shared pursuits. Partner-driven forms like jiu jitsu can also foster camaraderie, as they force kids to pair off and build their skills together.
- Encouraging Physical Activity – Limiting screen time is a great idea when it comes to getting kids off the couch and encouraging them to be more active, but it only goes so far. Enrolling an inactive child in such a physically demanding pastime not only discourages the sedentary lifestyle she’s used to, but also gives her an enjoyable activity that inspires her to keep moving.
- Learning to Set and Achieve Goals – Most forms of martial arts are based around an accomplishment system of colored belts that signify the wearer’s degree of skill. When your child strives toward each new belt, he’s learning valuable lessons about setting and reaching his goals.
- Increased Self-Esteem – Confidence comes with achievement, so your child’s self-esteem level will get a boost with every new move he masters and every belt he earns. Kids who struggle with a low sense of self-worth usually become more confident as time progresses while they’re enrolled in a martial arts class.
- Instilling a Sense of Respect – Learning any martial arts style will require your child to show her instructor unflinching respect. Today’s kid culture doesn’t always include respect for authority, adults or those in advanced positions. When she goes to her karate or tae kwon do class, though, your child will be learning lessons in respect along with new moves.
- Encouraging Non-Violent Conflict Resolution – Thinking that martial arts instruction promotes violent behavior is justified if your only experience with the activity comes from television or movies. In fact, many defensive styles teach kids peaceful, non-violent conflict resolution skills and emphasize the importance of avoiding a physical altercation.
- Improving Listening Skills – In order to master the skills she’s being taught and advance through the belt ranks, your child will have to exercise superior listening skills. Kids who aren’t always adept when it comes to paying attention to what they’re told can benefit from the verbal instruction and one-on-one work in her dojo.
- Developing Teamwork Skills – Whether he’s breaking boards to get a new belt or sparring in a practice setting to master a new maneuver, there are few things that your child does in his martial arts classes that will be done on his own. Working together to learn new things and accomplish goals is an important life lesson for kids to learn, and instruction in the martial arts can help your child learn that lesson.
- Improvement in Other Areas of Life – The benefits of martial arts training don’t end in the dojo. The boost in confidence, increased fitness level and new cooperation skills will also help your child navigate the academic and social aspects of school, affect his behavior at home and have an all-around good influence on him as he develops into an adult.
If you’re still concerned about encouraging violent tendencies or teaching your child to fight, it may be helpful to visit a few dojos/gyms in your area. Speak with the instructors, administrators and other parents to get an idea of how things operate, and hold off on forming a negative opinion of the martial arts until you’ve done a bit of exploratory research. You may even find that training is the perfect activity for your entire family to do together!
Rich Schnippel says
Great article…I can say that my son wasn’t especially lacking in any of the things that you describe as beneficial, but I was tremendously surprised at how he showed improvements in just about every area you mentioned…so even thinking we had most of these items covered I was happy to see advancements. My son is a jiu jitsu practitioner and has found it extremely challenging. I believe jiu jitsu has helped him immensely in his other sports (baseball and football). Martial Arts are without a doubt an all-around benefit, I wish more children could see the benefit and take part.
Thanks for the great article! We definitely stress the key elements above over combat/confrontation. There have been so many success stories in our dodjo (and I’m sure in others) where a child’s training in martial arts actually helped them to avoid a fight. It’s a fabulous thing! Thanks for shedding light on such a great skill set.
John Nottingham says
Great article. Thank you for articulating the benefits of martial arts training so well!
Erik Thaisen says
Understand everything you have said. Keep promoting message.
Richard E McDowell says
Very nice article. It’s nice to see others helping today’s youth.
Well done. Tks
Sean Kelley says
As a International Instructor I agree with your story and comments 100% in regards to the benefits and value Martial Science brings ‘Unity in Community’ by offering a tremendous life lesson to the whole family!!!
Sean P. Kelley…
Mel Thompson says
Great article! I’d also like to see you include that it helps students learn how to handle challenges and disappointments when a new technique is hard for them to “get” or they do not pass a testing. They have 2 choices: to quit or to persevere. Easy passing or quitting when it gets difficult lowers self-esteem, while truly earning new rank and sticking with it in the face disappointment builds self-confidence.
charles freda says
and it’s just plain awesome!
I agree completely! We ended up in Taekwondo after attending a birthday party class. The instructors were fun and firm, the kids learned a routine and could perform it after just 1/2 hour. Our 4 kids and I train together and we love it. The confidence and determination the kids have developed are incredible. One daughter loves being a teaching assistant for the Tiny Tigers and the other one thrives at competitions. We would recommend you look for a place where you can watch/participate in a few classes first to find the right fit in terms of teachers and martial arts style. We were very fortunate on our first try!
Ivan CASH says
Integrating the TWO SIDES of the body integrates the TWO SIDES of the Brain. Martial Arts is perfect because most exercises involve crossing the body’s centreline or alternating left action right action. This has been shown to benefit everything from LOGIC to STUTTERING
I’ve been in Martial Arts for 7 years and have really grown from it. I have seen kids grow EMENSELY from being in this sport and have signed up my daughter who is 9 this year. I LOVE Martial Arts! 🙂
Cristian Lopez says
Love it! Is it ok if I can use this article and send them to my parents and prospects? Let me know. THanks!
Champion Karate West says
It was really great for my son’s ADHD
My child has started 1st grade. We are beginning to think that he could have ADHD. Can you tell me more about your child’s situation? Was he/she already on medicine? If so, was your child’s dosage lowered after beginning karate? Is it something that he/she could be ween from?
rich whitenack says
Well done! Thank you.
Uwe Hasenbein says
True words – i totally agree to it.
I enter the Martial arts as a kid and i am sure that this was and is still a guidance to my way of life.
Thank´s for sharing your thoughts with us.
Kind regards – all the best to you
I started last November, at the age of 44. I am now a Green Belt, and loving it! Never too late to start….
Somnath Sikdar says
This is a great article. Well said sir!
Some very good information for the parents. Martial arts also teach you to become comfortable in uncomfortable situations. You learn to appreciate what it is to challenge yourself each day.