If you have watched any of the old karate movies, you may think that karate for kids is a terrible idea, fearing it will encourage violence and aggression. But, the movies got it wrong. Getting your child involved in karate, or any of the martial arts, will improve many areas of your childs life. Practicing martial arts teaches kids respect, mind-body awareness, self-defense, confidence, and encourages physical fitness.
Achievement builds confidence. Martial arts has many milestones for kids to aim to achieve. Testing, mastering an individual move, competition, and the belt system create a goal-oriented atmosphere. As the children progress through the different achievements, they will have a sense of accomplishment and pride for reaching their goal. As your child reaches their goal, their self-confidence will improve.
Encourages Physical Fitness
Martial arts can help your child attain a healthy fitness level. According to the CDC, the percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970’s. Said differently, one in five school-aged children is considered obese. One way to combat this epidemic is through martial arts. Fitness is a central component to all martial arts. As an exercise, martial arts improves balance, strength, stamina, flexibility, and muscle tone.
Most people initially are attracted to martial arts because it teaches their kids self-defense. Martial arts is an excellent source for learning techniques to defend oneself in the event of an attack. Indeed, it is a powerself self-confidence builder to know that you can defend yourself, even against a larger opponent. But, in addition to a self-defense tool, martial arts teaches kids why it is important to avoid physical altercations. Train to fight, so you wont have to.
The dojo (place where martial arts is practiced) is a formal environment requiring students to bow upon entering, practice stillness, and show respect to the instructor. Even if a child is upset, they are still required to show respect to their instructor. This type of respect will carry over to other areas of life.
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. This famous Bruce Lee quote exemplifies the martial arts disciplined approach to learning. Teaching children this type of discipline will help children learn perseverance, mindfulness, and mental toughness that will help them succeed in life outside the dojo. This self-control found in martial arts also has a positive impact on children diagnosed with ADHD. Research shows that complex physical activity, such as martial arts, strengthens the neural networks in the brain. This enables kids diagnosed with ADHD to practice self-control.
There is no age limit to martial arts. The potential benefits of martial arts is not limited to your child as martial arts can be practiced as a family. Practice can be anywhere, at the home, beach, or park. Thus, martial arts provides another vehicle to bond and have fun with your child.
Types of Martial Arts
After you make the decision to enroll your kids in karate or any of the other martial arts, the next step is to choose which form of martial arts is best for your child. Below is an explanation of popular martial arts options:
- Jujitsu – Japanese martial art that focuses on using leverage and technique to use the opponents weight against him. This is categorized as a grappling martial art along with aikido.
- Aikido – Similar to jui jitsu. Aikido uses locks, holds, throws, and the opponents own movements.
- Judo – Judo, an Olympic sport, focuses on throwing the opponent using balance and leverage.
- Brazilian Jiu jitsu – also known as BJJ, originated from the Gracie family, who modified judo and traditional jujutsu to create BJJ. BJJ focuses on technique and leverage. This combination eliminates the size advantage in a match allowing a smaller person to defend himself against a larger person.
- Taekwondo – Korean martial arts which is also an Olympic sport that translates to Tae (foot), Kwon (fist) and Do (discipline). These three parts represent the focus of taekwondo. According to USA taekwondo, together, these words mean the right way of using all parts of the body to stop fights and help build a better and more peaceful world. Taekwondo emphasizes kicking techniques and is very popular in the United States.
- Karate – This is the most well known martial arts form. Karate shares similarities with taekwondo except karate emphasizes hand strikes.
- Kung Fu – Refers to Chinese martial arts. Originally, monks practiced Kung Fu for health and self- defense on their path for enlightenment. The technique involves more circular movements making it look more graceful.
- Capoeira – Brazilian martial arts combined with music and acrobatics.
- Tai Chi – Chinese practice based on gentle, low-impact physical movement, similar to a moving form of yoga.
To reap the benefits of martial arts, it does not matter which form you choose for your child. More importantly, choose a teacher and facility that you believe provides a safe, comfortable, and family friendly atmosphere. Visit the facility and meet with the teacher to see if it is right for your child.
Looking for other fitness ideas to do with your child? Check out 7 Ways To Model Fitness For Your Kids!
Sources: What is Taekwondo?