Your goal is simple but important. You’re trying to raise your child to be confident and self-disciplined, to have a sense of self. There are so many unique advantages that martial arts can offer that other sports and disciplines simply can’t. Most sports are based on competition, and in the worst cases, youth sports can lead to aggressive behavior and a lack of self-confidence. In contrast, the practice of martial arts (MA) instills a sense of pride, because the students are competing against only themselves. With MA, your children get the opportunity to improve both their mind and body.
Martial Arts Develops Confidence
As you may know, the MA originated hundreds of years ago in Asia. Originally, the MA was developed as a means of self-defense. There are many different types of MA including karate, jiu-jitsu, tae kwon do and judo. There are so many advantages that the MA can offer to people, whether they are adults or children. When your child participates in the MA, they develop individual goals in consultation with their teacher. Types of commonly practiced MA include:
• Jujitsu – Japanese
• Karate – Japanese
• Tai Chi – Chinese
• Tae Kwon Do – Korean
• Judo – Japanese
• Aikido – Japanese
• Kung Fu – Chinese
The MAs are built on a system of personal achievement. When your children attain mastery of a certain skill, they receive a new color belt. It gives them a sense of accomplishment because they had to work diligently and consistently to achieve the next level of mastery. A significant advantage is that your child is set up to succeed, and not to fail. He or she is never expected to jump suddenly from a beginning skill to an advanced one overnight. Instead, they have the chance to grow gradually, which sets your child up for success.
Martial Arts Develops A Sense of Discipline
The long and esteemed history of the MA is Asia cultures are steeped in tradition. One important tradition is that, at the beginning of each class, your child and all the student bow to their teacher. It’s a sign of respect and it helps to develop self-discipline. They also learn the importance of waiting their turn, in order to have a chance with their teacher to practice their new skills. Your child will have the chance to develop personal physical fitness, and respect for themselves and for others.
At the same time, your child will be constantly learning a new, more advanced level of skill. Keep in mind that your child is setting their own pace and their own goals — which is a perfect way to nurture your child’s sense of empowerment. Feeling empowered will, in turn, promote a desire in your child to develop an even greater sense of self-discipline in order to learn a progressively challenging skillset.
An important element for a child to develop is the ability to handle delayed gratification. With MA, your child is tested on average every three months to see whether they’ve reached a new level of skill. It’s a great way to learn the important skill of goal setting. One challenge that many parents face with their children is learning how to create attainable goals and realistic expectations.
That’s when MA comes into the picture. When your child masters a new skillset, they get a new belt. They achieve something significant and get a visual reminder of their accomplishment. Since the students have to concentrate and focus to learn the new skill, they’re multitasking. It’s more mentally stimulating to learn a new martial art skill than merely running around a soccer field. Many MA experts suggest that a child as young as 5 or 6 is old enough to begin learning MA.
Individual Goals and Team Work
While your child is setting and achieving individual goals, they do it in a group setting. One of the wonderful advantages of MA is that the students develop such a strong sense of camaraderie. MA provides a stark contrast to team sports in many ways. While a team sport teaches your child how to be a member of a team, they are also poignantly aware of the internal competition within their team from a young age. With MA, your child is competing with their teammates from their dojo, but they never are in competition against each other. A martial artist is only in competition with their earlier versions of themselves — and never against someone else.
Martial Arts helps ADHD
Because of MA’s unique qualities, many parents report it helping their children with their ADHD symptoms. Many pediatricians including Dr. Mimi Johnson, MD, who is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness, believe that MA is beneficial for ADHD symptoms in children.
Parenting Magazine reports that many physicians and long-time MA practitioners believe that it’s the combination of prolonged focus and systemized skill attainment that helps students with their ADHD. Many parents find that the benefits that their child gains through MA extend into the classroom as well, resulting in better behavior and higher grades.
While some people have the misunderstanding that MA promotes violence, practitioners are quick to dispel the myth. They are part of an ancient tradition that promotes a system of self-defense, but MA is much more than that. The system of learning new skills forces your child to practice concentration and focus. The team environment of the dojo helps promote self-confidence and socialization skills among their classmates.
Enroll Your Child in Martial Arts Today
Now that you have some understanding of martial arts benefits for children, you may be curious to know how quickly your child can get started. The good news is that MA studios don’t have a specific season like most team sports do. You can have your child get started at any time, in order to start experiencing the fun. Let your child get started exploring their new horizons today, and watch your child grow in confidence and self-discipline while having a great time.