Martial arts is a great way for parents to impart a variety of values upon their children. While the benefits of physical exercise are the most obvious, there are a variety of mental and social aspects to martial arts that will carry a child far in life. This article intends to cover each of these three aspects: the physical, the mental and the social; in some level of detail with a focus on the benefits for youth practitioners.
Anyone who regularly undergoes training drills and exhibitions is bound to shape up, losing weight and, depending on the particular martial art, gaining muscle in the process. According to the Center for Disease Control, out of out every five children between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese, a percentage that has tripled since the ’70s. In instances where a child is being bullied due to an underdeveloped stature, regularly adhering to training sessions may be just the thing to stop that torment.
Because different martial schools emphasize different maneuvers, one martial art will not necessarily improve the same parts of the body as another.
- Karate is an upper-body-centric discipline.
- Tae Kwon Do’s heavy emphasis on kicks means that the lower body gets most of the workout.
- Judo’s heavy emphasis on reacting to an opponent and redirecting the aggressor’s power upon himself means that many judokas, the plural term for practicioners of judo, have excellent flexibility and agility. The same benefits could also be said to apply to Greco-Roman wrestling.
- Kung Fu has a wide variety of punches, kicks, and acrobatics, meaning it will do wonders for a student’s cardiovascular health. Boxing conveys similar benefits; footwork and mobility are just as important as knowing how to throw a punch. The same could also be said of Muay Thai kickboxing; a style similar to normal kickboxing but with the additional focus on strikes delivered with the knees and elbows.
Regardless of the martial school that a child begins to study, the call for holding various stances in most styles means that there will be a positive effect on children whose posture is deemed to be lacking.
One of the best benefits from adhering to the training involved in a martial art is that it is a swift means of installing discipline. It is not uncommon for a student’s instructor to want to learn of his grades and conduct outside of the dojo, including within the school classroom. This is commonly done to further mold students who report unbecoming behavior when not actively engaged in learning their martial art.
Any young martial artist will eventually absorb the discipline imparted by his teachers and convert it into self-discipline. Yes, a martial art is more than capable of improving a person’s ability to inflict harm upon another, but this same resource also teaches restraint. Furthermore, the child develops the judgment for when that restraint should be maintained and when to respond to an acknowledged threat.
Confidence is another huge benefit to anyone who takes up a martial art. Gaining a better understanding of one’s own body, acknowledging the ability to stop a threat, and even the various belts, medals and even trophies earned along the path of training; all of these contribute to a person’s self-value. The boon to confident that a martial art can give someone means that studying a martial art may be just the thing to help pull a depressed child out of his funk.
Stress relief is one of the more basic mental rewards of pursuing a martial art. Martial arts serve as a positive way of physically releasing a great deal of stress without the risk of self-harm. This can be especially useful when dealing with a child who prefers to say little about his school day; giving him a sandbag to strike or a studied parent to coach may be just the thing to improve the child’s mood afterward.
One last, notable mental benefit of martial artistry is that it has been shown to improve focus and attention. An experiment performed by Bangor University revealed that children who regularly practiced a martial art were less likely to be distracted with things like apps on a smartphone than a child of similar make-up who did not pursue a martial art. Focus and precision are especially relevant to styles that incorporate weapons, like fencing and kendo.
There is also a social element to martial artistry that the parents of “loner” children may appreciate. For starters, the dojo gives a child an entirely new area to make friends with while giving structure. Knowing a martial art also means that the child has at least one additional hobby or interesting fact about his character that other children may be interested in. There is also the notion that one of the child’s close friends may have started karate or judo and the child might want to check it out on his own.
While progress within any martial art is full of the sweat and exercise of training and exhibitions, it also has its fair share of ceremony. Events like belt awards and trophy-awarding competitions can serve as concrete metrics of a child’s accomplishments, giving them a taste of success that will likely only further their dedication to excellence. Receiving exemplary awards can also do a world of good for a child’s confidence social life as more people hear of his successes.
When looking into a new hobby for a child, it is certainly worth taking the long-term positives it might bestow a child in the long-term. When taking this information into account, it makes sense why pursuing a martial art is such a frequent example of an after-school and weekend activity for children. Any child who takes up karate, kenpo or any other school is an individual with some level of physical fitness, self-confidence and has probably gained a few friends since their time as a novice of the school.