Martial arts are the various training and self-defense programs that prepare individuals for combat. There are several different styles in which students can train, all of which either focus on defeating an opponent or defending against an attack. The techniques taught in martial arts classes can be drawn from many different systems, including karate, Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido and more. The curriculum is often exciting, diverse, physically challenging, useful, and can also provide a number of positive benefits for children and adults alike. But, given the nature of martial arts, parents still often wonder whether or not these classes are appropriate for children.
Do martial arts classes promote violence?
This is often the biggest concern for parents as they decide whether or not to enroll children in martial arts classes. The fear that martial arts classes lead children to be violent is, however, a common misconception. In fact, rather than causing aggression, martial arts often teach self-control, respect and the proper response to violence or threats. We previously wrote an article on how martial arts promotes anti-bullying, and that was a perfect example of how this sport enhances self-confidence in children and teaches them to handle violence properly. Regardless of what martial arts program a child participates in, he or she will actually be taught a moral code of honor and discipline, all the while reaping the many benefits of learning martial arts.
How do martial arts benefit children?
Beyond learning how to handle violence and threats, children who participate in martial arts classes experience a slew of other benefits. These classes have a positive physical, emotional, mental and social impact on children. The overall health benefits are far-reaching and provide many reasons why children should participate in marital arts.
- Physical benefits. Encouraging children to practice healthy behaviors at an early age is important to their overall physical fitness. The physical components of martial arts play a significant role in every class. By participating in martial arts, children will improve their balance, posture, strength, coordination, and overall level of fitness. As students develop these skills, they will see improved general health, sports performance, and success in other basic activities. Additionally, children who participate in martial arts will be more likely to avoid childhood obesity, have a positive relationship with fitness, and maintain a strong, healthy body.
- Emotional benefits. One of the reasons martial arts is so helpful in decreasing bullying amongst children is because of the emotional benefits it provides. Martial arts classes are instrumental in building a child’s self-esteem and confidence. The process of working toward and earning multiple belts, learning new self-defense skills, and succeeding in a challenging program works wonders on a child’s self-confidence. Additionally, continued practice in the martial arts can decrease anxiety, stress, tension, and depression.
- Mental benefits. The enhanced performance in school and other activities is often overlooked, but is a very real benefit to practicing martial arts. These programs improve a child’s ability to focus, listen, retain information, and keep their attention on a given task. In martial arts programs, children are able to develop these advanced skills because they often receive and follow instruction in class. The improved concentration often leads to higher success in academic settings and better listening at home.
- Social benefits. Like with any sport, martial arts can boost socialization skills in children. Not only are these classes excellent opportunities for children to make friends and engage with people of all different ages, but martial arts classes also specifically encourage team-building, camaraderie, and respect for one another. Children will be paired with other members of the class and asked to work as a team to achieve common goals, all the while being reminded by the instructor to treat others with respect and compassion. Additionally, martial arts promotes healthy, appropriate conflict resolution which is a crucial skill for children to master.
Deciding what activities and sports to involve a child in can be a daunting task for a parent. That said, choosing martial arts as an outlet for children to learn and grow is never a mistake. Not only will children enjoy learning self-defense and the art of combat, but they will also enjoy the many physical, emotional, mental and social benefits associated with martial arts classes.