Those of you who currently have children in our program have likely asked yourselves “Why Martial Arts?”
But with so many priorities in children’s lives these days, why should you stay with martial arts?
There are many reasons. I’m going to try to focus on a few that make martial arts a bit different from most other sports.
Respect and confidence
Students learn to show respect for themselves and others. Since our accomplishments are cumulative students gain confidence in themselves and learn that respect for others comes from the same place. I have seen many kids’ confidence grow as they accomplish things like breaking a board, mastering a form, or finally getting a particular technique.
How to take a hit!
Yes, sometimes physical, like in sparring, sometimes emotional, like when they do not bring home the hoped for trophy from a tournament.
The first time I sparred and got hit, I literally ducked under my arms and cowered. But I practiced and I learned. If you are ever actually attacked, you need to know you can continue even after being hit.
I have seen children dissolve into tears at the slightest hit when they first spar, but learn to take it like a champ by the time they have been sparring for a year or more.
We do teach that the best way to win a fight is not NOT HAVE ONE, and that there are no such things as “fighting words.” Students know they are not supposed to use their martial arts skills on others, meaning they must find a different way to resolve problems, to respond, not react.
If you watch the beginning and end of our childrens’ classes you will see them take a couple of deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth. This will carry through in learning to keep their breath during a physical workout and to calm them under pressure.
Focus and stillness
We try to have class with as few distractions as possible. Although we occasionally have music for forms, we usually work in a quiet environment except for the noise made by the students themselves.
We will also play games like Statue, and have contests to see who can stay still in ready stance the longest. Although martial arts is about physical activity and movement, learning to stay still, to focus on what is directly in front of you, is important too.