Children and the Martial Arts

Martial arts has long been known for its practice of honing and training the mind and body into one. Various styles, such as karate or taekwondo, train body and mind so the practitioner can become a stronger, healthier version of themselves. There are many benefits in enrolling your child in karate, judo, or taekwondo. This article will highlight the importance of exercise and what karate or taekwondo can do in your child’s development. 

The Importance of Exercise 

Children and exercise, in whatever form, should go hand in hand. They are like small bodies of energy that want to explore and play. Finding an outlet for physical activity, such as sports, dancing, or even karate, is important for their overall development. 

According to the CDC, children should have some form of physical activity for an hour or more every day. They feel less stressed, have more self-confidence, can keep a healthy weight, better focused in school, and build and strengthen bones, joints, and muscle. These are just some of the benefits they gain. Staying active improves their overall health and channels their energy in better ways than sitting in front of a computer or television. 

In fact, there are three types of physical activity children should partake in to develop correctly: aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening. Aerobic activity includes walking or running. Muscle-strengthening is gymnastics or push-ups and bone-strengthening includes activities like running or jumping jacks. Martial arts focuses on all of these and more. 

Overview and Benefits 

The most commonly known styles are karate, judo, and aikido, all originating in either China or Japan. Taekwondo, another common style, originated in Korea. Krav Maga was developed in the Israeli Defense Forces, a hybrid of karate, aikido, boxing, and wrestling. JiuJitsu originated in Brazil as a style of grappling and ground fighting. THe most suited and available styles for children are karate and taekwondo. 

The goal of all self-defense schools is to channel and focus the body, mind, and spirit as one. For children learning any style of self-defense, they can learn life-long skills and lessons that can help them become better people as they grow up. Here are some of the skills and lessons children can learn. 

Health and Fitness 

Whatever style your child chooses, self-defense is physically demanding. Warmups include jumping jacks, stretches, and push-ups. The strikes, poses, and kicks are good for cardio and muscle building. Self-defense students are known to be toned and physically fit, especially at the higher levels. 

Self-Discipline and Focus 

The strict routine and discipline of the dojo instill a mental focus for your child. They are better able to focus and finish the task at hand. This skill translates into their personal lives as children start to pick up their rooms, help with chores, and stay better organized. 

Self Defense 

Naturally, the moves of karate, taekwondo, and judo help kids prepare for if they need to physically defend themselves or someone else. A good school will emphasize the skills their students learn are only to be used for self-defense and not to become bullies. Furthermore, they teach kids street-smart techniques to get out of situations without throwing a punch or kick or avoid them altogether. 

Self Confidence 

In any style of self-defense, there is usually a color belt system identifying the level of experience a student has. Ranking up through the system provides children a way of measuring how much they are improving. This gives them self-confidence they can take outside of the dojo and apply to their personal and school lives. Many children who take self-defense can also take the self-confidence they gain from it into their adult lives. 

Respect 

The minute you walk into a dojo, punching, and kicking are secondary to the environment of respect a child starts learning. They bow to their teacher, or Sensei, and the masters before them. They learn to encourage and respect their friends and peers within the dojo, treating each other the way they want to be treated. Instructors teach the subject of respect regularly and instruct their students to take those lessons to their students, teachers, friends, and peers. 

ADHD and Karate/Taekwondo 

While on the subject of children and karate or taekwondo, is worth to note the difference the sports make with ADHD kids or other mental disorders. Karate or taekwondo gives ADHD children the structure and self-discipline to help them become better organized. The fast-paced classes help keep attention spans that might otherwise be overwhelmed and wandering, alert and focused. Hyperactive kids are able to release pent-up energy, while kids that are inattentive or “daydreamers” can hyperfocus on their instructors and the task given to them. While they are also building strength and muscle, the complex movements of karate and taekwondo can also help improve coordination. 

Conclusion 

The martial arts has long been known for its intense physical activity and focuses on honing both the body and mind. But the benefits don’t stop there. Karate and taekwondo, the most commonly available styles, help students focus, become better organized and instill a sense of respect and self-confidence in themselves. This is especially helpful for children who have ADHD or other mental disorders as it can also improve coordination and giving wandering attention spans something to focus on. For parents that are looking to get their children more physically active, karate and taekwondo are perfect avenues of healthy fitness that can benefit them well into their adulthood 

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