Do you feel hesitant about letting your child learn martial arts because you fear it will teach them to be violent? You don't have to. Although a martial arts training will equip your child to defend themselves effectively if absolutely necessary, the main idea is that they'll learn to resolve matters without resorting to violence. And, in the meantime, everything from their fitness to their mental state could be improving.
Physical Fitness Through Martial Arts
It's perhaps not surprising that martial arts can help improve your child's fitness and develop their body. The exercise involved has also been connected with weight loss if your child is overweight, although as always this works best when combined with a healthy diet and other types of exercise. However, these aren't the only types of physical development associated with martial arts. The disciplines involved in learning can also have a highly positive effect on your child's endurance, and it can also help with their balance and coordination.
Self-Confidence Through Martial Arts
Perhaps even more important than the physical advantages, though, is the self-confidence that martial arts can give a child. Many children take up martial arts because they're being bullied, perhaps fantasising about beating up the bullies. What they learn, however, is that they can resolve conflict without violence. Bullies thrive on easy victims, and a child who exudes the confidence of knowing they could hold their own in a fight if necessary makes that clear by their body language. While it's not impossible they may have to put a bully on their back once, they'll start to find that not only will they not be attacked, but they can actually protect others from being picked on — all without laying a hand on anyone.
Mental Development Through Martial Arts
Perhaps the most surprising claim for children learning martial arts is that it can help mental and cognitive processes, especially if the child is on the autism spectrum. A recent study suggests that learning aikido can support improvements of functioning in an autistic child. Functions that have been associated with improving through learning martial arts include communication skills, memory, cognitive function, self-regulation and postural control. It's important to remember, though, that martial arts aren't a magic wand and need to be combined with other therapies.
Social Development Through Martial Arts
A common complaint among parents is that their children lack respect and self-discipline. Most martial arts derive from various Asian traditions that are rooted in philosophical teachings which emphasise those qualities, and something of this carries through even when they are being used in the West primarily as physical exercise. Many parents whose children who are learning martial arts have found that they're better at setting goals, as well as restraint and patience. It also seems to improve their respect, both for authority figure and for their peers.
What Kind of Martial Art Should My Child Learn?
There are numerous martial arts disciplines on offer, but the most common to find are Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, Aikido and Tai Chi. All of these have been associated with the various benefits mentioned, and it's largely a matter of finding which one your child relates to best. There's also the matter of finding a good teacher, of course. Register with TutorExtra to search for the best martial arts teachers for your child.