Benefits of Studying Martial Arts for Children
By: Sensei Jacob Hennessey
Parents have a lot of options when it comes to choosing activities that help get their children away from the TV. Deciding which will benefit the child the most and be fun enough that they do not hate you for forcing them to go to every practice or class is hard. Martial Arts, or karate specifically because that is the style I have the most experience in, is one of the many my mother tried and I am still training almost seventeen years later. There are many benefits that come from the martial arts (like the ability to defend yourself, the confidence you can gain, and the physical health it promotes) all of which are great from the view point of Mom or Dad but just as importantly they are FUN which as I'm sure you are aware is the most important part for the kids.
Being able to defend yourself is the most obvious of the benefits of training in any of the many martial arts but there are more subtle benefits as well. Self-confidence is one of those that are hidden. If a child, or anyone, feels more confident in their ability to react in a … let's say stressful … situation then they are going to be more confident. This lets them feel more comfortable doing things that have nothing to do with martial arts. Standing in front of the class presenting a project. Trying out for a school team. Even singing karaoke with their friends. Now, is every martial artist a karaoke diva? Definitely not, but it certainly takes confidence to make a fool out of yourself like that.
Martial arts is also a great way to get kids moving and add some muscle to them so they can help shovel the next big snow storm. Most classes have the same basic parts. You will start with a warm up. (running, jumping, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, all sorts of cardio and strength building exercises) Then you will probably stretch a little, it's amazing the things that get easier with a little flexibility. Finally, you'll get some basics and material. Doing one push-up is all but impossible for some kids, and adults, when they first start, but before long they are cranking out twenty with little effort.
Earlier I said that training is fun. It most certainly is but does that mean that children are always going to want to go to class? Of course not, their … Sensei, Sifu, Master, the teacher could be called any number of things depending on style and rank … will require that they work hard while they are in class. Do you want to get off the couch to go do a workout that you know is going to push you to your limit? No one does all of the time so it is crazy to expect that from your kid, but while they are there and after class ends they and you are going to be glad they went. I would even bet my car that they leave with a big smile on their face.
I have only touched on a few benefits of martial arts. I totally ignored the discipline gained, the anti-bulling benefits, and the comradery and respect that is taught. So here's what you do. Look at our How to Choose a Martial Art School article and find a good to school to let your child discover the benefits for themselves. Maybe you can join them in their training too.