While you might think that five years old is too young to start learning martial arts, you would be wrong. The benefits of karate, Tae Kwan Do or other styles are many even for the youngest students. Through their training they will learn discipline, self-determination and confidence. They will learn skills that go far and away beyond just the physical training and will touch on their deeper inner strengths that may help them blossom into a kinder, wiser person. They may also learn the skills of leadership as they progress.
The Ability to Handle Bullies for Themselves and Others
As a parent, you want to protect your child from everything negative this world can throw at them. While it is a noble thought you are doing them a disservice by shielding them and stepping in to always rescue them. Martial arts will help them learn how to handle themselves in a physical confrontation but that is far from the goal especially with the younger students. In fact, the little ones will learn how to use their own control, their voices and their confident stance to diffuse situations and keep them from escalating to the point of a physical fight.
As they become even more confident in themselves and secure in their surroundings, these same kids might start showing leadership qualities including standing up for others and helping others to face down their bullies. That confidence may even translate into a child becoming a mentor for another child at some point.
Improving Physical Condition and Coordination
Any type of exercise can help with things like improving stamina, getting proper rest and even loosing weight but karate and other disciplines go beyond just these basic benefits. A child that is clumsy and is always hurting himself should be evaluated by a doctor first and then signed up for karate second. As he learns the various movements he will access muscles he may not have ever used before without being fully conscious of them. His body will start demanding better fuel and he will accept the nutritious foods that he was reluctant to try before. He may not suddenly become a vegetable fan, but he will be eating better and that is a step in the right direction.
Some of the moves that he will be learning will include kicking which means that he will stand on one leg at a time. In the early days of this new skill, he may need to raise and extend his leg and hold it in position for several seconds at a time. This tough challenge will help with coordination and balance but will also help him to access deep reserves of self-discipline and self-control. He will be learning to use his mind to master how he views a challenge and more importantly, how he reacts to it.
Patience is a Learned Skill
Some children can sit in a single spot and never move. Some kids are little bundles of energy and have to fidget and move from sunrise to sundown with barely any breaks at all. Even from the earliest ages, the child will enter the dojo and will learn how to quiet his mind, still his body and truly focus on the lesson of the day. Through all of that they will learn the fine art of patience as well as perseverance. If they want to learn a skill, they will have to have the patience to watch the demonstration and to focus their attention on every detail. They will have to have the mental clarity to remember what they have just learned and then they will have to have the determination to fail, try again and to continue doing that until they master the skill.
How This Translates to Better Grades, Better Health and Better Behavior
Sometimes the problems in school like inattentiveness, insubordination and acting out can be a sign of a mental or physical health problem. Sometimes it can be that the class is too easy or too difficult or that the teaching method is not the right one for the child. Sometimes it is a combination of many things. To get the child back on the right track there are many things that can and should be done. He should be checked for overall health. Things like a vision or hearing exam could be the difference between a child who is not learning well to a child who is a star student. Some children might need medication to address a problem with physical or mental health. Others might need a way to channel their frustrations and to learn more positive ways to deal with issues as they arise.
Karate is not a magic pill and will not take away every problem but it will help especially the skills of patience, focus and determination. Learning how to focus on a certain skill like a new kick or a block can eventually translate to learning how to focus on a math problem. That determination they learn to carry them from one belt to another will help them set goals for their grades and then find what they need to meet those goals.