Over the years, martial arts classes have become a popular choice for adults looking to get into shape, learn self-discipline, and possibly gain a better understanding of Eastern (Oriental) cultures.
However, as a casual observer you may have noticed that in recent years, it is more often the youngsters – perhaps as young as six (6) years old – who are being hustled off to karate class after the regular school day or on weekend mornings. They, as much as or more than young adults, retirees and aging seniors have a lot to gain from the ancient teachings of combat art.
Is there anything to this growing trend of children in America embracing the martial arts (e.g. Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Kung fu, Aikido, etc.)? As more and more studies about the benefits of sports for kids come out, consider the specific benefits martial arts has to offer:
Improving Children’s Focus.
The physical fitness aspects of martial arts are mostly well understood today, but what differentiates these activities from other sports is the degree of focus demanded of children. Now, both young boys and young girls are taught to center their efforts on specific goals, then achieve them. As individuals, they are responsible for their own results and making the necessary adjustments to fulfill their potential.
The belt system of martial arts evaluation is an excellent means for kids to practice regular goal-setting and measure their performance.
Improving Children’s Attention Spans.
The ability to focus on specific goals in martial arts demands a high level of concentration, without which it is impossible to succeed. Concentration brings clarity and meaning for kids looking to excel at something, and all forms of the arts offer a path to personal fulfillment.
Children are introduced to a structured and disciplined approach to sport and life. For example, a typical Muay Thai or judo class begins and concludes with a customary bow to the instructor or master. Following a thorough warm-up, skills training (i.e. kicks, throws, punches etc.) requires close attention to detail as well as concentration.
Improving Children’s Behavior.
Martial arts like karate and its American kickboxing derivative are excellent for channeling the emotions and energy of hyperactive children. A common misconception about martial arts (with the possible exception of Tai chi) is that they will promote violence with kids. In fact, these combat sports are first and foremost about respect, self-discipline, control, and socialization. Parents with children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often credit martial arts with providing a necessary outlet for pent-up aggression.
Improving Children’s School Grades.
Martial arts is an added time commitment outside a child’s regular schedule, but the funny thing is that all its positive aspects (mentioned above) often synergize to improve the kid’s grades.
Don’t believe it? There are studies coming out every year linking participation in sports to higher academic performance. In other words, active children on average tend to outperform their less active schoolmates. With martial arts in particular, a community atmosphere in encouraged within a high-performance environment. This gives kids the best of both worlds: a support group for encouragement, and the means to grow self-esteem and a desire to perform.
At the martial arts academy/gym AND in the classroom…
If you have been hesitant up to now about enrolling your kids in a martial arts program, don’t be! Visit a reputable gym in your neighborhood, ask the right questions, and make a healthy commitment that will also benefit your children’s academic performance.
Martial arts will introduce them to a whole new fantastic world!