For a lot of Americans, the words martial arts conjures up images of Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan performing incredible acts of athleticism and combat, or maybe Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid coming of age with the help of a wise mentor. But beyond the flashy moves that excite us in films, martial arts provide both an actual, empowering way for people of all ages to defend themselves, as well as an important outlet for growth for children. There are plenty of different styles and schools to study with, such as:
- Tae Kwon Do
- Wing Chun Kung Fu
And many, many more! Kids should absolutely get into martial arts for a variety of reasons, all of them beneficial. But what exactly are they? Read on and find out!
The most obvious reason to get your kids into martial arts is practically a no-brainer. Martial arts can only be successfully performed by the physically fit. By enrolling kids in a quality martial arts course, this provides a very structured, focused exercise regimen with a tangible goal beyond just general physical fitness. Children that undergo martial arts training become stronger, faster, more flexible and thus healthier as a result of their training. In other words, children that learn martial arts and stick with it are stronger, healthier kids.
Success in martial arts is like success in any scientific, athletic, academic or artistic endeavor; it does not come without a willingness to exert self-control and discipline. Martial arts, however often benefit from centuries of having refined a training regimen into exactly what a person needs at a given stage of their development and training. The structure and focus of martial arts gives structure and focus to kids as they learn what it takes to advance in the ranks, become more skilled and earn their colors as they attain new levels of proficiency and show off their hard work with a belt and a title.
Develop Mind/Body Awareness
Normal exercise routines or athletics are really just about getting in some aerobic activity to increase the heart rate and training to learn specific moves required for a sporting activity. Martial differs greatly from this in that it takes a more holistic approach, and is not just about giving the body a workout but creating more awareness of the mind, the body, and the environment. Because martial arts is, in part, about engaging in combat and winning, internal, external and situational awareness is crucial. Children will learn to listen to their bodies, as well as assess their surroundings and make judgments based on what is occurring around them.
They Will Learn About Failure
This is perhaps one of the most important lessons any person can learn, and yet few disciplines teach it as well as martial arts; the value of learning from failure. Children learning martial arts will, at some point, necessarily fail. It may be simply because they take a hit while sparring, or it may be because a move or aspect of training is too difficult for them to succeed at because of their current level of strength or training. In failing to win a sparring session, for example, kids learn why they failed, and why their opponent succeeded. They learn and improve as a result of failure, rather than being discouraged by it.
Learning Confidence & Respect
Martial arts is about both gaining confidence as one gains skill and strength, and at the same time respecting that power, and respecting the responsibility to use that power with care. Nothing breeds confidence in kids like earning a victory through hard work. At the same time, engenders respect like seeing the amount of work and training that goes into that success with others further along.