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Martial Arts for kids

How martial arts can benefit your children
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Martial Arts are largely misunderstood as sport.  The abundance of fantastical media representations of the Martial Arts in action has led to a general misconception that it is all about fighting and aggression.  True Martial Arts could not be more different, and the physical, mental, and behavioural benefits of the training offered in a good teaching environment can be huge.

What are Martial Arts?

Originating in Asia, these sports have their roots in moral, not physical, teachings.  Most forms of Martial Arts focus on using body movement as a form of self-defence, and teach that seeking no-violent solutions to conflict are always preferable. Different types of Martial Arts will place focus on varying areas, so do some research with your child first to find out what their hopes and expectations are before you select the most appropriate class.

Karate, for example, uses defensive and aggressive moves with chops, kicks and strikes, and has a focus on building strength and endurance.  Conversely, Aikido teaches the use of throws, pins, and rolls as a method of redirecting the aggression of an opponent, and is more harmonious and spiritual in its approach.

Benefits of Martial Arts

  • For children who do not like team sports, the self-discipline and independence of Martial Arts can be very appealing
  • Despite the physicality of the learning, they are among the safest types of sport to enjoy.  Injuries can and do occur, but the nature of most teaching is gentle, especially early on in the learning process
  • It builds self-confidence and discipline, develops concentration, enhances self-esteemmartial arts for kids
  • Promotes values such as respect, courtesy and non-violent solutions to conflict
  • Structured training techniques appeal particularly to children with mild learning and attention difficulties

Potential Downsides to the Sport

  • As with any extra-curricular activity it will only benefit your child if they enjoy it.  Investing money in the necessary outfit can be a gamble, but asking the teacher up-front if your child can do a few try-out sessions in normal clothes may be a way around this
  • Some training schools do lean towards more offensive fighting strategies – always watch some sessions in advance of committing, to see if the environment is the right one for your child’s temperament
  • The level of discipline expected will vary by teacher.  An extreme boot-camp type approach may be a little excessive, and again you should be able to pick this up if you observe a few sessions
  • As a system of self-defence that works in real situations, the Martial Arts at the level your child will be learning are ineffective.  The focus will be on movement and defence in response to specific moves.  Being attacked on the street or in the playground will bear little resemblance to this, so if workable responses to threat situations are what you are after, then a self-defence class may be more appropriate
  • Your child will not become Bruce Lee overnight.  Manage their expectations and help them to understand that as with any sport Martial Arts take time, energy and commitment to master

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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