You and your children have all seen the flying kicks, battle cries and mighty chops of beloved TV characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Power Rangers. But you may wonder, what can super hero reptiles beating villains teach my child?
First, know that what you see on television (perhaps with the exception of The Karate Kid) is usually a far cry from what real martial arts are all about.
Martial arts training is based on non-violence. Originating in Asia (mainly Japan, China and Korea), martial arts range from a variety of types and styles, all of which are based on well-rounded, moral teachings.
Here at K.S.K.A we study the art of Shūkōkai Karate (meaning the way for all in Japanese).
The beauty of learning a martial art like Karate is that it encompasses not just the physical aspect of the sport, but mental and emotional lessons as well.
Karate aims to build confidence and self-esteem alongside discipline, respect, concentration and courtesy.
Here are 9 benefits your child will gain from studying Karate:
#1: Get Active
In a country that has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe it is important to break away from the norm; especially when it comes to our kids. Martial arts offers many benefits, but when it comes to fitness as it is one of the best full body exercises. It is a combination of aerobic exercise and motor skills this combines healthy activity with mental concentration.
Besides the obvious health benefits of regular exercise, children who are physically active sleep better. They are also better at handling physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.
Your child will get fit and healthy whilst having fun.
#2: Learn to Focus and Find Stillness
Ever feel like your child is constantly plugged in to a device, whether this is the TV, games console, tablet or phone. Whilst these may bring some benefits (like 2 minutes of quiet), there are many more benefits in stillness and silence.
What sets martial arts apart is the absence of gimmicks you often see at your local health club. In the dojo there is no loud music or flat screen TVs, just hard work and sweat equity.
Karate teaches stillness, this requires self-discipline and concentration. In fact, many parents whose children have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) report great success with these programs because practising self-control and concentration can be difficult for children with ADHD.
At some point in life, every one of us comes to learn that the greatest obstacle we face in this lifetime is ourselves. As Bruce Lee pointed out, behind the punches, kicks, and knees, a true martial artist learns to sit with their self and see where their weaknesses are.
Your child will learn what it is to be still, challenged and focused.
#3: Failure is the Greatest Teacher
In the martial arts, your child will learn what it is to take hits, whether that hit is a literal blow or emotional disappointment like not doing well in a test.
Part of life is learning that we all come across setbacks. The key is in learning how best to take that hit and get back up. In the martial arts, your kid will learn to fail – a lot. Part of martial arts is hitting, but another part is also getting hit.
Your child will gain the ability to deal with failure, learn from it and move forward.
A typical hour-long class begins and ends with a bow to the Sensei (Master / Teacher), this teaches children to respect their elders.
After a warm-up, students practice the art’s particular skills, which may include kicks, punches and blocks. Children learn to respect and listen to not only their Sensei but their own bodies. Each skill requires concentration and strict attention and helps to install the values of respect and concentration.
Experts say that the most important benefit children can learn is respect, whether from bowing or standing still and waiting for the next command. It also often carries over into school, helping improve behaviour and even grades.
Your child will learn that confidence and respect for others comes from a deep sense of self-knowledge.
#5: Connect Mind and Body
What they don’t teach you at most sports or health clubs is how to really listen to your body. To listen to your body is to also see your thoughts and have heightened awareness of your emotions.
How often have we heard the phrase “being paralysed with fear”? Being able to combat this fear is one of the things that martial arts can teach you.
A martial artist is taught to see, feel, and listen both internally and externally, to tap into intuition and transform fear into courage.
Your child will learn to listen both to their body and mind.
#6: Learn Conflict Resolution
People often ask martial artists whether we have ever had to use our martial arts in a fight. The answer will most likely be that skills we have learned from martial arts have been used many times to resolve conflict, but thankfully, never in a physical altercation off the mat.
One of the first lessons I remember being taught in class was that words were never grounds for a fight and avoiding a fight is always better than engaging in one. This advice has saved me many times.
In Karate, you learn that there is no such thing as “fighting” words.
Your child will learn to respond without reacting.
#7: Learn to Breathe
Of the many things I have learned in martial arts, breathing is the one I consider to be the most important. During my early days of training I was told that you could tell how someone fights just by observing how he or she breathes.
Nothing is more essential to living in and moving our bodies than our breath. Ask a professional athlete, or an actor, dancer, or singer and they will tell you that to succeed in any physical craft means accessing your breath correctly.
I am shocked when working with adults who never learned to breathe properly when under physical exertion as the skill of breathing correctly drastically improves your stamina.
Your child will learn the essence of how to breathe and even relax under pressure.
Apart from building up strong muscles, bones and stamina, self-defence classes for kids also teaches how to be aware in a different situation. Focusing on various safety topics such as body protection and awareness of dangers. Not only that, but martial arts also teaches various situation specific evasion tactics in order to help children stay safe and avoid unwanted consequences. Learning self-defence is considered an important life skill.
Your child will learn to stay safe and if necessary defend themselves.
#9: Social Skills and Friendship
A good martial arts school will teach your child that there are no tough guys. Every martial artist ultimately learns this sense of self-awareness and equality.
Socialisation and making friends is an important part of childhood. Martial arts provides a positive atmosphere necessary to help young children make new friends, while teaching them the concepts of sharing, compassion, and conflict resolution.
Your child will make new friends with a shared passion.
The bottom line is that any child can and will benefit from Karate. As a martial artist your child will develop excellent foundations for life.
If you are interested in trying Karate, why not come along and give it a go. At K.S.K.A your First Lesson is FREE!!!