I often wonder what parents think when they hear about martial arts training for kids. It's been so long since I was a parent not involved in the martial arts that it's hard to remember my perception of it. Most likely I was picturing images from the Karate Kid.
My first exposure to a martial arts class was in high school working at a summer camp. It was offered as a camp option and I could see the kids who chose karate as an option training in the field near the lake. It definitely perked my interest in some ways, I loved anything that had to do with body movement and wasn't a team sport. I also was a fan of all the popular martial arts media: Karate Kid, Ninja Turtles, The Last Electric Knight... I didn't choose to participate though, the students looked very hot outside with no shade.
My second exposure to Martial Arts Class was at the YMCA. I worked at the Y and my young kids participated in Y activities. I would see the Taekwondo Students in the hall in their uniforms, and once a month there was a big celebration in the gym, when students earned new rank. Being a young mom the idea of my kid getting recognized for achievement was appealing to me. The story of how we got involved, finally, is a whole different blog topic, but looking back I definitely didn't understand all my kids would gain from the training they were about to receive.
Let's break it down:
PERSEVERANCE / DISCIPLINE
Before Martial Arts: My kids wouldn't stick to anything they started
After Earning Their Black Belt: They didn't only stick to other activities, they excelled in other activities
FOCUS / CONCENTRATION
Before Martial Arts: My kids didn't have the focus needed to learn from other coaches or teachers (They would talk too much, move too much, be upset too often...)
After Earning Their Black Belt: My kids were always the most focused in the group, they knew how to accept instruction and how to set goals.
TEAMWORK / COMMUNICATION
Before Martial Arts: My kids didn't always know how to work together with their peers
After Earning Their Black Belt: My kids understood team work and working together along side their peers to help each other improve!
These are just the anecdote examples from my own children's experience. As an instructor I have seen so many positive benefits in martial arts training.
- Sense of Community
You see, it isn't just a sport, Martial Arts is an opportunity for self-improvement. It's a tool parents have to help their children become the very best version of themselves. Any child can excel at this sport, and every child will take what they have learned in training and apply it to every area of their lives, for the rest of their lives. I can say this with certainty as I have seen it first hand in my own kids and in the hundreds of students we have had the good fortune to teach.
The longer the child trains the more of an impact the training will have on them. They will have opportunities to fail and then see that failure is only part of the road they need to take to reach success. They will get bored, but learn that sometimes we do things in life not because they are fun but because of the benefits we are receiving. (If we stop something just because the fun associated with the newness wears off we will never learn what it feels like to excel at something. I promise my black belts REALLY enjoy being black belts! They never are upset they were pushed through the times they were not feeling motivated) Students will get frustrated, but what a great lesson it is to learn how to work through frustration!!!
My black belt's resumes are impressive. What is most exciting, is all of them have learned how to set goals for themselves, and know how to reach those goals. They are able to look ahead, decide on what they want, and then go after it, whatever it is.