When we say the words ‘martial arts’, most people instantly think about the Karate Kid, Kill Bill or even Ninja Turtles as these interpretations have painted the mental image of the concept of martial arts within the minds of most people. But the way these movies exploit the sport can help create an opinion to the viewer that may not be accurate to the stronger meaning behind martial arts. Obviously there is no hiding that events such as Wrestlemania and UFC cage fighting can show an uglier side to this sport, but the underlining concept of martial arts is that it is not only a sport but a discipline that helps develop beneficial future life skills. The media and movie industries can show martial arts to be a violent, controlling and a way for the ‘bad guy’ of the film to get what they want. However, what if I told you that what you see in the movies isn’t always real? Bet you have heard that before, but it’s the truth and it’s the same for martial arts. Martial arts has many positive impacts and can be very beneficial for the growth and development of a young child’s life through many various aspects.
Improve their fitness
To begin with, the most obvious benefit to martial arts is its fitness side. It’s no lie that all those jumping kicks and powerful punches really do work up a sweat. Martial arts combine drills that tackle cardiovascular fitness in the form of stamina, muscle, tone, balance, strength and flexibility that helps keeps the body and muscles in great shape. This type of fitness regularly elevates the heart rate for long periods of time and really gets the body moving. Martial arts also focuses on resistance training which is performed through exercises such as push ups, squats and initially how to use your own body weight for resistance. This type of training that martial arts supports helps build strength and increase fitness within a child, which is extremely important for their overall health as they continue to develop. In my own experience, participating in taekwondo as a child helped me gain some of my fitness levels that I still hold today. For example, all of those push ups I was tortured into doing as a child has benefitted me in the sense that despite many females my age struggling to do one single push up, I can easily do many without finding it a struggle. Martial arts provided me with that upper body strength while I was in my prime time of physical development and has carried onto my adult years.
As a kid there are so many things that can get you down, however their self-esteem won’t be one of them! By doing martial arts not only will it help them feel so much better physically it can also provide them with a new-found emotional strength. For the kids that are a bit shy and don’t always feel the best about themselves, martial arts can offer them a new found confidence. It can give them that push out of their comfort zone and provide them with that nudge into trying things they never thought they could do. By learning new techniques through punching, kicking and self-defence, each child will have the opportunity to hopefully slowly develop balance and coordination while also feeling themselves getting stronger, which can give them that much needed confidence they need. ‘Quest Martial Arts’ (a leading Australian martial arts school) indicates that praise and attention from instructors can make a child feel good about themselves and therefore boosts their self-esteem. And not being able to advance in ranking due to unsatisfactory performance can also encourage children to work harder to achieve their set goals which is preparing them for the reality of life. A shy child may be cute, however it can cause many problems later in life such as lack of participation, the struggle of making new friends and finding it hard to speak up for themselves. Martial arts can help them build up that strength and courage in their own personalities that will better help themselves by the time they are older. Growing up, I believe much of my confidence came from martial arts. From being able to break wooden boards with a simple punch made me feel unstoppable and as if I could do anything.
Discipline and respect
Discipline is something all children will struggle with at some point in their life, however martial arts is based around this concept and acts to control it. Martial arts teaches you how to use your own strengths and skills in a completely controlled manner. Many people may think that this is where martial arts can teach kids to become violent and use what they see in the movies or learn in class out in the streets where it is unnecessary and unsafe, however this is not the case. Martial arts rejects the use of these learned techniques outside of the classroom unless in a situation where they are required. Students are taught to take control of their anger where they may want to use it and teach them alternative ways to get through something where violence is never the answer. It has the possibility to teach them to be aware of their surroundings and always think before they act which will be relevant when they reach adulthood and must deal with life decisions. This sport can teach children the concept of respect while also learning the difference between right and wrong and what is accepted in today’s society. Experts say that the respect of these children from the smallest things such as listening and taking commands or just bowing on the matts that can carry on with them into their adult lives. But the best thing about all of this is you can start them on from such a young age. According to ‘American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Sports and Medicine Fitness’ member, Mimi Johnson, six years is a great starting age. By this time they are starting to learn more about respecting one another and developing their manner skills so what better way to help them with this learning skills then placing them into a martial arts environment.
Protection and self defence
The safety of a child is any parents biggest fear in life, although knowing a little bit of martial arts can make a huge difference if a child were ever put in a life threatening situation. The knowledge of knowing how to defend yourself is an extremely important skill to have in life and the younger you are the more vulnerable you become to these situations. Martial arts can provide kids with simple self-defence skills and teach them how to get out of life threatening situations that you as a parent may not be around to help them in. It can also help them to defend themselves against bullies, not through physical violence of course, but to have that confidence in themselves to be able to put the bullies straight in line. This is one of the most important skills martial arts has to offer and it can follow these kids straight into their adult lives, not only with the ability to be able to protect themselves when needed, but to have that confidence to be able to stand up to the people that will put them down at one stage of their lives.
This video demonstrates some of the self-defence martial arts moves kids can be taught in order to defend themselves against bullies.
Martial arts is not the violent killing machine that is destroying today’s youth, it is only providing them with a safer and brighter future. Martial arts is all about an opportunity that teaches them the skills and knowledge to protect themselves but the discipline and self control they will need later on in life. It is the ability that seeks very little failure but producers some of the best values you can provide to a person. So, stop seeing martial arts for the horrific picture it is painted as and see it as an opportunity for the growth and develop of your child.