Young kids are usually bursting with energy. A great way to productively channelise this packed energy is to enrol them in martial arts training. Some parents fear that martial arts may encourage aggression and violence in kids. But this concern is baseless and has no logic.
Martial arts like Kung Fu, Aikido, Taekwondo are not only fun activities for young boys and girls, but they may also help promote physical fitness and mental strength in children. In fact, children who have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have reported considerable benefits by joining these training classes.
The lessons of respect, discipline, and concentration that a kid learns from these classes ultimately may groom and shape his personality. These lessons may also carry over to school life, helping him to perform better academically and achieve success.
What are Martial Arts?
Martial arts are a traditional system of combat practices which aim at training the body, mind, and spirit to function in sync. To simply put it they can be perceived as fighting arts. Martial arts endeavour to strike a harmony between the mind and body along with teaching effective methods of self-defence.
Martial arts for children promote the all-round development of a kid by developing the mental abilities, spiritual strength of the child along with his physical capabilities.
At what Age can a Child Start Martial Arts Classes?
According to experts, six years is an appropriate age for teaching martial arts. By that age, a kid should have ideally developed enough muscle strength and control to apply the various techniques of martial arts like punches, kicks and so on.
Nonetheless, there are certain schools that offer martial arts training for even younger kids. But then the emphasis may be more on entertainment than organized training. Hence, their programs are generally game based. Some institutes also run classes for preschool kids. The focus is more on developing skills like hand-eye coordination and improving the attention span.
Does Learning Martial Arts Promote Violence?
Some parents may be hesitant to enrol their kids for martial arts classes because of the fear that it can make their kids violent and hostile. But experts say this is a misconception. On the contrary, martial arts may help in making a child more self- disciplined, respectful and social. The child learns to exercise self-control while effectively defending himself with the self-defence techniques of martial arts.
Significance of the Belt in Martial Arts
The progress in martial arts classes is assessed and awarded by the belt system. A kid is required to clear many skill levels and is awarded a coloured belt after he completes a level. Thus, a trainee begins with a white belt and after completing different ability levels finally attains the black belt. A kid is evaluated for the next new level usually after every three months.
Benefits of Martial Arts Training for Kids
The numerous benefits of martial arts training for kids are listed below:
- Develops Self-Discipline: A kid in a martial arts training class carries out the various actions of martial arts at the command of his master. They learn to follow orders. It helps in disciplining the body as well as the mind.
- Enhances Physical Fitness: The training sessions require the kids to do several warm-up exercises like stretches, jumping jacks, push-ups and so on. After the initial warm-up session, the kid’s practices many martial arts routines which may involve punches, kicks, strikes, and blocks. This not only toughens the muscles and tones the body but also improves the agility and flexibility of the child.
- Teaches Self-Defense Techniques: Martial arts are basically combated techniques and teach the kids various self-defence methods. The skills may differ with a different style of martial arts. But they all largely aim at training a kid to protect and defend himself in the face of unexpected danger.
- Learns Respect: A typical martial arts class begins and ends with the kids bowing to their master. This way they learn humility. They are taught to show regard for everyone, conduct themselves in a dignified manner and treat other students equally and respectfully.
- Boosts Confidence: Kids training in martial arts gains in self-confidence. They are surer of themselves because of the knowledge that they are capable of handling any situation. The system of awarding a belt on completion of a skill level keeps the kids motivated and ensures that they diligently work hard to achieve their set goals.
- Promotes Team Spirit: The kids enrolled in a martial arts class learn to function and work together with their corresponding students in the class. There may be conflicts, a difference of opinions. They learn to resolve these and instead help each other to learn and practice together.
- Cultivates Social Skills: The kids learn to interact with their fellow students. They acquire team spirit as they train together. The class is a great place to meet and mingle with other kids from different backgrounds.
- Improves Posture and Balance: While performing the different techniques of martial arts, kids need to maintain proper balance and a correct posture. Only then will they be able to execute the various movements correctly. Any slip in this regard can result in injuries, cramps or accidents.
- Increases Concentration: Mental benefits of martial arts are many. Martial arts teach kids to discipline their minds and focus on their body movements as well as that of their target’s. Each movement involves concentration, strength, and self-control. They need to pay attention to their master’s instructions and follow the commands carefully.
- Improves Coordination: Martial arts training improves the hand to eye coordination as it strikes a synchronization between the body and mind.
- Tackle Bullies: Many institutions offering martial arts training also teach their students how to deal with bullies. The kids learn to handle and effectively tackle bullies in anti-bully workshops.
- Better Blood Circulation and Breathing: The various warm-up exercise and the strenuous physical activity helps improve the blood circulation and the respiratory health of the kids.
Different Forms of Martial Arts Training for Kids
There are different forms of martial arts training for kids but some of the best ones are:
- Karate: It is a form of martial arts that originated in China. The word Karate means ‘empty or open hand’. A kid learns striking, punching, kicking and blocking with arms and legs.
- Judo: Judo is a traditional martial arts form of Japan. It is structured as a competitive sport and involves throwing of your partner by utilizing the techniques of balance and leverage.
- Taekwondo: It originated in Korea and it means ‘the art of striking or blocking with fist or foot’. It emphasizes on self-defence techniques and improving focus by breathing techniques and meditation.
- Aikido: Aikido is a Japanese noncompetitive form of martial arts. It teaches to avoid conflict and unnecessary use of force.
- Kung Fu: Kung Fu is a popular Chinese martial arts form. It is a more rigorous and demanding form of karate.
- Jiu-Jitsu: Jiu-Jitsu originated in Japan. It uses the methods of close combat and utilizes the strength and the weight of the opponent against himself.
- Tang Soo Do: This martial arts form originated in Korea and is quite similar to Karate and Taekwondo.
- Tai Chi: Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art and is popular for its defence techniques and health benefits.
Martial arts training may help in facilitating the mental, spiritual and physical development of a child. It is sensible to select an institute that follows the inherent principles of martial arts training in its original form than those that try to dilute or alter them. Therefore, it may not be wise to send your child for a class that blends Kung Fu with kickboxing.