Written by: Steven Petter
You may have found yourself clearing up broken picture frames and watching the dog run frantic out of the back door as your, normally mellow child, flying kicks his way around your nice, clean house. The talk of mechanical dinosaurs and talking turtles may have you worried but don’t worry, your child has discovered Martial Arts and this is your chance to channel that new found amazement into a hobby that will not only help them stay physically healthy but may help them grow up to be more sociable and develop strong moral values.
It’s widely accepted, by most free-thinking and intelligent people, that any physical exercise is beneficial to your children, but training in Martial Arts can have more wide ranging benefits than may be first apparent. As well as the obvious benefits in strength, co-ordination and cardiovascular development, the social and psychological benefits can be just as far reaching, given the support structure from both instructors and parents is strong. Training in the traditional Martial Arts such as Karate, Judo, Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do can help a child to develop keen disciplinary structures as well as inherent principles such as Respect, Duty and Integrity.
Morals and values
Clearly I’m not talking about making little six year old zen masters, but the very nature of these styles and the structure by which the lessons are taught can help to develop a sense of morality in young people that later on becomes an individual set of values that they build personal relationships upon. Instilling these lessons on our children, lessons such as; Listen when spoken to, help others, ask if you don’t understand, take turns and respect everyone around you, can only be a positive grounding.
In all Martial Arts, not just the oldest and most traditional, concepts such as; Team Work, taking pride in your appearance and working hard are all strong foundations laid down by instructors to assist in the development of the student. Most students find they have improved social skills once they start attending Martial Arts classes, as they are encouraged to practice with a variety of other students from a range of social and ethnic backgrounds, and in working together they learn the value in friendship.
Is it for your child?
So, you’re convinced that Martial Arts training will be good for your child and you’ve convinced your best friend it would be good for her’s too, but where do you go? It can be hard choosing the right club but there are some key pointers to look out for;
- ¬†If someone knocks on your door, saying they have just started a club locally and if you sign up today you’ll get a discount, just close the door. These “McDojo’s” are concerned only with the development of their bank accounts and not with your child.
- Talk to the instructor and ask if you can watch a lesson. The instructor should be passionate about what he/she does and be natural when talking to your child. They should be able to describe very clearly what they do and be able to describe, in detail the lineage of their style.
- Occasionally you may get instructor tell you that you need to pay a years insurance up front, a years membership, pay for uniform and club badge and all this is non-refundable. In this case turn around and go, no one should expect you to pay that amount of money up front especially if the word ‘non-refundable’ gets thrown in the mix, always read the small print.
- Talk to other parents who takes their child, they will know if their children enjoy the class and be able to describe if they get what you expect from the class.
The other obvious, and key for most parents, benefit is the awareness and self defence aspect, knowing that your child will be a little more safe if the unthinkable happened can offer piece of mind and give them an added boost of confidence when they are out and about. It is important to remember, however, that no amount of training can make anyone invincible so teaching your children about safe travel and ‘stranger danger’ is important, but hopefully a good foundation in the Martial Arts will help build confidence and develop keen senses.
Hopefully your child will enjoy many years of fun training in the Martial Arts and maybe become the great Olympians of the future.