Times have changed. Parenting skills are different than they were 50 years ago. Although YOUR parenting skills may be stellar, chances are, many of the kids in your children’s classes at school may not be the beneficiaries of spectacular parenting.
Why is martial arts training beneficial? Why teach your kids to fight?? Maybe on the surface the idea of teaching your children to fight seems counterproductive to having polite, nonviolent humans in your house now and later in life. However, a good martial arts program may be exactly the ticket to polite, respectful, peaceful offspring. The motto in martial arts is “learn to fight so that you don’t have to”.
How is that possible? First, martial arts teaches both discipline and, more importantly, self-discipline. Focus, respect, coping skills, critical thinking skills (think- how do I defend myself against this attack), patience and persistence- these are all beneficial byproducts of martial arts training.
Confidence. Not arrogance, but confidence. When you learn a new skill, master a skill through repetitive training and you can SEE your development, it builds confidence. Confidence through competence. The more competent you become, the more your confidence grows naturally.
Social skills. In many schools, kids and teens learn to interact in various situations both physically and verbally. The students have something in common when they are on the mat and it makes developing new friendships a little easier. Many students develop life long friendships through martial arts training.
When it comes to bullying, most martial arts schools have a zero- tolerance rule, and/or teach anti-bullying tactics. It should be a safe place to develop one’s skills without fear of ridicule.
Physical conditioning. Being flexible, agile, strong and in shape are all byproducts of consistent martial arts training. Learning defensive skills and learning how to protect yourself makes you less of a target. Going back to the confidence thing- if you are confident it shows in your body language. Strong body language is a natural bully/bad guy deterrent. And, if push comes to shove- literally- your child can more effectively defend him/herself.
Empathy. Teaching courtesy and respect are part of martial arts. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, so to speak, is an important part of being a good leader, a good student and a good human. Martial arts training is a great avenue for developing those skills. Once you learn a skill, you can teach it to someone else. It reinforces what you know and it helps someone else at the same time. Win/win.
Learning a new skill, seeing your own progress, improving one’s listening skills, being coachable, handling winning and losing in a safe environment, feeling the consequences (both good and bad) of your actions, learning how to handle the pressures associated with both winning and losing- these are all important benefits that martial arts training has to offer.
Maybe the belt earned is a tangible item everyone can see, but the intangibles- who you become in the pursuit of the goals you set- all of the “soft” skills you develop on your journey- those are the benefits that will stay with you long after you step off the mat.
The world needs more kids who have had the benefit of martial arts training.