I enjoy multiple sports and have been a martial arts enthusiast since my mother first enrolled me at 5 years old. My 8-year-old son has been training in martial arts for over 4 years and my 12 and 14 year old daughter since they were 4 years of age as well. How could I not give them the same benefits my own mother gave me. Not after having lived and experienced them first hand from a time when very few girls trained. The benefits of martial arts for kids includes so many great positive characteristics and life lessons that I recommend some form of Martial Art training to everyone I meet, whether at one of our Power of One Martial studios or elsewhere. During my many decades of training and teaching, I have watched more and more young girls develop alongside the boys and I LOVE it. Some girls were already athletic, assertive and excelled from the beginning, while others were quieter, more reserved and less tuned into their strength.
Kids in martial arts are expected to behave in ways not innate [or taught] for some girls (not all!), like yelling, striking and motioning their bodies in ways that are typically reserved for boys. Gradually, with trust, guidance and challenging instructors, I’ve watched as some of these same girls became fierce competitors and athletes. The best martial arts for women are the ones that encourage growth!
BENEFITS OF MARTIAL ARTS FOR ALL CHILDREN !
#1 Emotional Benefits: In a society that’s obsessed with pop-culture and celebrities, martial arts provides a positive grounding environment for all kids, one where girls and boys can be praised for their efforts, abilities and skills side by side while also encouraged to see the value in mistakes and learning from them ! They receive many cognitive, social and emotional benefits that translate into other areas of life. The structured, disciplined nature of traditional martial arts instills focus, self-control, listening skills, respect and discipline. Students bow and acknowledge instructors, but also to opponents before and after competing. This practice demonstrates respect, humility, and honor… character values that are hard to find in the images fed to our youth through media and elsewhere. But throughout a Self-Respect is instilled while building self-esteem.
Martial arts for kids is an opportunity to build social skills, friendships, and camaraderie with peers, who if nothing else, have something in common. They become part of a “dojo”, and a greater martial arts community. There’s also the potential for mentorship from a trusted, positive instructor along with the positive peer pressure from other students striving to become their best selves with parents who also value the same positive learning lessons.
#2: Physical Fitness and Skills: Martial arts can be a way for girls and boys to become physically fit and healthy. All Martial Art styles incorporate conditioning into their training, in addition to learning the skills. The athletic abilities developed in martial arts carry over into other sports. These abilities include muscular strength, speed, and agility, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and balance. Add these physical qualities to the perseverance, focus and grit they learn in Martial Arts and you have an incredibly well balanced athlete. One who is not afraid of physical contact on the field as they stand and face opponents in the studio on a regular basis.
Kenpo, Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, Boxing, KungFu and JiuJiutsu are all various forms of Martial Arts out there each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Any of these arts is better than no training at all but if you can find a studio that teaches both standup self-defense techniques and ground fighting/defenses you will provide your child with the greatest combination to deal with real life situations that might arise, regardless of their size. That and they will get a full body workout including their legs, arms and core learning to use all of their potential body parts as weapons. Girls and boys of various sizes will find different skills and moves feel more comfortable to them based on their own strengths and weaknesses.
#3: Empowerment through Self-Defense: There’s a special confidence that comes with being able to defend yourself. This is empowering regardless of gender. Though verbal and physical bullying have always been around, it seems to be getting more attention these days. While most martial art studios train their students to only use skills of self-defense, the simple knowledge that you have those abilities empowers students to make their own choices and stand up for what they believe is right with NO FEAR of physical altercations. It gives them a stronger voice. On top of this, a student training in the martial arts for some time tend to carry themselves differently. Their body language speaks of confidence and strength, of awareness and security. As bullies typically target those who seem more passive and less assertive, a young martial artist’s body language often works as a deterrent to those bullies. There’s also something a little sweet about sending your son or daughter off to college knowing that thanks to you, they have years of martial arts training should they find themselves in a situation where self-defense is needed . You might not always be able to protect them, but you CAN give them the skills should they need to do it themselves.
#4: Life Lessons: There are many valuable life lessons that girls and boys learn in martial arts. These lessons build character and provide experiences they can draw from as they mature. As with all sports, martial arts for kids presents opportunities to be challenged physically, mentally, emotionally and overcome adversity. In martial arts these experiences are built into the curriculum.
RELATED: Every month at the Power of One Martial Arts features a different life skill or theme that is taught alongside the physical lessons. We strongly believe that the mental benefits of training can apply to all aspects of life when taught properly.
There’s no substitute for the experience of having to get back up after being knocked down; or learning how you respond and overcome an opponent who’s bigger or stronger. The process of trying something new, learning an advanced skill, the discipline of practice, and repetition of techniques, learning from mistakes, losing, winning are all experiences that children draw strength from throughout their lives. Kids also learn the values of hard work, dedication, persistence, courage, and resilience. The tangible rewards for all of this are improved skills and being promoted to the next belt level. They learn to set and achieve goals. It’s also an opportunity for girls to learn how much they have in common with boys…and for boys to learn that girls are more than princesses! They learn to respect themselves and all those around them.
#5: Become your own Hero: Being your own hero means showing yourself real love by developing your own values and staying true to any commitments you’ve made to yourself. Do what you say you’re going to do and feel proud of yourself, confident in your character and abilities. In the end, heroes are all about intention, consistency and compassion. Having the martial skills to protect yourself and those you love will make you that much stronger of a hero! And let’s not pretend that punching, kicking, and jiujitsu isn’t fun. Regardless of what society implies, both boys and girls enjoy play fighting with parents, siblings, and friends because it’s fun and non-threatening. When taught correctly it also teaches them how KNOWLEDGE beats power!