There are many reasons why a child would benefit from martial arts training. Here I will point out a few of the more obvious ones to me as an instructor and long time practitioner of martial arts. One of the most apparent to me is simple. They are being active. Lets face it not every kid is a star athlete involved in numerous sports and activities that test their physical bodies. We have watched children on average become less and less active, increasingly unfit and overweight. Schools are dialing back on physical education if not taking it away all together. Martial Arts tests the whole body and has many heath benefits. And what kid doesn't aspire to be a kung fumaster?
They'll learn to find focus, stillness, and discipline. Along with the decrease of activity among the youth comes more screen time and while technology is a great thing to much video games, TV, Internet, DVD's, and smart phones leave them with no opportunity to focus, to sit still and be with themselves. Many day to day problems can easily be worked out on the mat through hard work, sweat and concentration. Since I began teaching children I have yet to have one that didn't improve at school and home.
They learn to take a hit. In martial arts training your child will definitely learn to take a hit, whether it be a literal strike or a disappointment like not getting the next belt or stripe. Part of life is learning to take a hit. We use the fighting arts to teach very important life lessons, just as kung fu masters have been doing all along. The more "hits" we take, the more we shake off. Over time a great deal of confidence is achieved and especially for young people and children, finding the confidence to be yourself can be a tall order.
They will connect mind and body. We learn how to listen to our bodies as martial artist. A martial artist is taught to see, feel, and listen both internally and externally. Intuition, fear, and courage are examples of being able to put the mind and body together as one. Being able to combat fear is a big step in martial arts training and is one that pours off the mat into everyday life. The kid intimidating you in school isn't as scary after you spent training last night sparring black belts and holding your own.
Conflict resolution. Just as you would suspect many people ask me as a black belt and martial arts instructor, if I have ever used my martial arts in "real life"?? Well the answer is yes but the story isn't so great and exciting and I usually focus on the hundreds of times I used my training without fighting. We find the better and more efficient we become at fighting in most cases we wish to fight less. You become very in tune with how easy it really is to hurt someone very badly. This means, oh no..... They could hurt you just as easily. Being able to become more confident and creating connections of mind and body, we seem to be able to look for other ways out of a possible violent situations since we are not acting out of fear itself, but using the fear in a positive way. Connecting our mind and body strategy and straight forward thinking become inherent.
Kids get an opportunity to learn to breath. This sounds funny I know. Your kid already knows how to breath. Well in order to succeed in any physical act we must learn to breath correctly. Martial Arts puts a lot of focus on breath and how to control it. having a relaxed breath under high pressure is obviously an advantage in any given physical situation.
Last but not least. Self defense. Everything mentioned above you can get at just about any dojo across the country, no matter the style or teacher. The training alone, especially among peers and role models does wonders for kids. But here is where I get real and separate what this school offers than many don't. Self defense lies at the root of martial arts training. Anyone can learn some moves and display them to onlookers for some rank. But the question we ask is. Does the student understand the application and street of their movements? Our focus is application and understanding. That understanding goes deeper than the fight and the values associated with the arts are cemented through correct understanding of the art, the culture, lineage, and application. In other words. You learn to successfully defend yourself in a fight. You learn why what your doing works and why to use it. You learn respect for what your doing because it's down to earth and not sensationalized, but practical and real. In my experience kids thrive in this environment because it's unlike any they are accustomed to. Since kids learn from a traditional standpoint they are treated as any other student and are expected to take what they do seriously. I've yet to teach a kid that didn't thrive when they are treated like a martial arts student and not a kid. We don't play games, we train. The challenge to achieve is determined by the discipline of the student. Kids have been able to "live up" for thousands of years. My mission for youth students is to provide them with an opportunity to see their potential and focus. A chance to actually earn something instead of their parents buying something. A glimpse of traditional martial arts training and the family friendly culture it breeds. We are very inviting and anyone is welcome to come watch one of the group lessons for children.