To parents that have little experience with the world of martial arts, the entire sport can seem violent and dangerous for kids. Upon closer inspection, however, many find that their kids will reap an innumerable amount of benefits from participation in a martial arts training program. In addition to busting sedentary habits and getting kids in shape, martial arts instruction also helps kids learn these ten valuable lessons.
1. Determination and Dedication – In order to ascend through the ranks and earn new belts, kids that study the martial arts must exhibit dedication and determination. Learning to set and achieve new goals through hard work and dedication is one of the most valuable skills that a child can take away from martial arts training.
2. To Manage Disappointment in Healthy Ways – No matter how dedicated he is or how hard your child tries, there’s a good chance that he’ll be disappointed by a failure to advance or a mistake that he makes during training. Rather than shielding your child from these feelings, you can use the opportunity as a valuable teaching experience, helping him learn to manage that disappointment in healthy ways.
3. How to Avoid Physical Confrontation – Action heroes in summer blockbuster films may attack their opponents with style and gusto, but real life just isn’t like the movies. In reality, your child will be taught how to peacefully diffuse a volatile situation and to avoid physical force altogether unless it’s absolutely necessary for defense.
4. Working With a Partner or As Part of a Team – Some martial arts styles, like jiu jitsu, will require kids to work with a partner to hone their skills and advance. Working together or as part of a team to learn skills and master their technique helps kids learn the value of teamwork, a principle that he can apply to any number of situations as he gets older.
5. Increased Social Skills – Even if your child doesn’t choose a style that requires much work with a partner or group, the act of spending an hour or so each week with the same people and interacting in a controlled environment often helps shy kids come out of their shells.
6. To Listen Effectively – It’s impossible to learn proper technique and improve martial arts skills if you can’t listen to the instructor carefully, which is why training in the martial arts can have such a strong impact on kids’ listening skills as a whole.
7. The Importance of Self-Restraint and Discipline – The basic tenets of all martial arts styles place a strong emphasis on discipline and self-restraint. Willful, stubborn kids that struggle with their impulse control can benefit greatly in the hands of a seasoned instructor.
8. How to Respect Authority Figures – Regardless of the style, a great martial arts instructor will command absolute respect from his or her young students. This respect for a particular authority figure can easily extend to a respect for authority in general, especially when the focus of classes emphasizes this concept.
9. The Importance of Confidence – Success is dependent upon confidence and self-assurance in so many areas of life, and it’s imperative for kids to gain such traits. Mastering new techniques in martial arts training will help your child to become more confident and slowly gain faith in her abilities, making her more confident and self-assured in general.
10. The Benefits of Being Physically Active – The dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and the attendant risks of childhood obesity are well-documented, but all martial arts training will require your child to be physically active and fit. Learning the importance of a healthy, active body can inspire your child to make real changes in her lifestyle, helping to make her more focused on fitness and health in many areas.
These are just a few of the things that your child can learn from participation in a reputable, quality martial arts program. Before enrolling your child, however, it’s wise to remember that not all dojos are created equal. Just as it’s smart to shop around for the best area dance instructor or sports coach, you should also make an effort to locate an instruction facility in your area that has a strong reputation and a focus of kids’ programs.
No offense to Ralph Macchio, but he ain't the Karate Kid. - Barney, How I Met Your Mother, the Bro Mitzvah, S8 E22
Now I try to avoid situations from the past that may threaten me. How do you do that? I go through life like a Karate Kid. - Britney Spears, MTV's Britney: for the record. 2008