Martial Arts and Child Development

Martial Arts truly IS the greatest gift you can give your child. When you think of Martial Arts you might start to think of violence. This is a common misconception about what ‘Martial Arts’ truly is.

It is true that martial arts teaches children how to kick, punch and block. However it also teaches many life skills that are deeply embedded into the ancient arts. As child psychologist Jeffrey Bernstein says, The power of martial art "disciplines comes not from side kicks or sleeper holds, but rather from an unrivaled ability to teach confidence and self respect. After a few weeks of classes, kids start to carry themselves differently. They walk taller, appear more self assured and interact less fearfully with the world around them. In short, they cease to be an easy target"

Children today will have to deal with many challenges ahead. Bullying at school, bullying outside of school, bullying online, negative peer pressure, the pressure to conform – in particular when drugs and alcohol are involved, and this only scratches the surface. Unfortunately we can’t always be there for our kids, we can’t shield them from these external influences. But as a parent there is something we can do. Although we can’t shield them, we can prepare them. We can prepare them to be more confident, to be more resilient and to be better prepared to make decisions. This is where martial arts will help.

JAI Martial Arts has an extensive children’s program that is designed to develop your child not only physically, but also mentally. Life skills are embedded to help prepare your child for life ahead. Teaching your child about focus, goal setting, perseverance, respect and self control will help them learn to make the right decisions in life.

Valuable life skills your child will learn through martial arts include – Self Confidence, Self Control, Discipline, Focus, Goal Achievement, and Leadership.

Self Confidence: By learning how to defend themselves, your child will develop confidence in how to handle life’s obstacles. Their confidence will give them the courage to say “No” to negative pressure they will encounter through their school and social lives. Martial Arts will breed self confidence through the belt ranking system. As your child progresses through to higher belts, their confidence in themselves also increases.

Self Control: Your child will learn self control through respect, respect for themselves, parents, friends and teachers. Your child will learn that in order to receive respect, you first have to give it. Once they have learnt this lesson, their self control will naturally increase.

Discipline: Discipline is needed in all aspects of life and at all ages. There will be times where we MUST perform an action, whether we feel like it or not. Your child will learn the etiquette and practices of Martial Arts, practices that can be translated to other areas of their life.

Focus: Through step by step repetitive movements, personal attention, positive reinforcement, adherence to rules, group reinforcement and a sense of belonging, your child will see improvements in their ability to focus at tasks given.

Goal Achievement: Through the belt ranking system, your child will learn what is needed for them to successfully move to higher belt ranks. By learning this, your child will be able to set their goals and successfully achieve it through their training.

Leadership: As a culmination of the previous benefits of martial arts – self confidence, self control, discipline, focus and goal achievement – comes Leadership. All the above mentioned traits are attributes of a leader. Speaking in front of a group and communicate effectively, setting good examples for others, mentoring lower ranks to succeed, these are all qualities of a leader.

As you can see, there is a lot more to Martial Arts than just kicking and punching. Adele Diamond and Kathleen Lee published an article titled “Interventions Shown to Aid Executive Function Development in Children 4 to 12 Years Old”, they listed traditional Taekwondo as a means to improve “executive functions (EF), the cognitive control functions needed when you have to concentrate and think, when acting on your initial impulse might be ill-advised”. They went on to say – “traditional taekwondo training were found to show greater gains than children in standard physical education on all dimensions of EF’s studied (e.g. Cognitive – distractible, focused – and Affective – quitting, persevering)…they also improved more on mental math”.

Martial Arts truly IS the greatest gift you can give to your loved ones. Call us today and find out how martial arts can help shape and change your family’s life.