When it comes to physical activity, many Americans have increasingly turned to martial arts to stay active. In 2016, more than 3.5 million Americans aged six and older participated in martial arts. The next year, that number was at more than 2.3 million.
When it comes to keeping kids active, martial arts is a great way to do it and there are many benefits to getting kids involved in martial arts:
- Discipline: Today’s kids are surrounded by technology of all sorts and may have short attention spans as a result. Some kids may also be accustomed to getting what they want, when they want.
Children can benefit from martial arts because it requires a great deal of discipline. Having self-control and discipline will set children on a good path early in life. Having self-control and discipline will enable kids to work alone, work with others and will able to stay focused as they try to accomplish goals.
- Exercise: One of the greatest benefits of a martial arts class for kids is that it allows them to get plenty of exercise. The American Heart Association recommends children have at least an hour of physical activity every day and gymnastics is a great way to meet that requirement.
Just one hour of moderate intensity martial arts can burn up to 500 calories. On days when children may not have a martial arts class, they can always get a pad or some foam carpet tiles and practice their skills at home.
- More self-esteem: Self-control and discipline in martial arts is crucial, but martial arts like karate and Jiu Jitsu can also do wonders for a child’s self-esteem. Learning a new skill gives children a sense of accomplishment and gives them confidence going forward as they learn new skills. It shows them that if they work hard and stick with something, good results will follow. On that note, encourage them to practice, even if it’s just for a half an hour every day in their room.
- Goal setting: As a child in a martial arts class grows more confident and masters new skills, they can set goals they want to reach and then work to achieve them. Teaching children to set goals early in life can be a great life skill to have and it can keep them focused and passionate about martial arts.
Maybe their goal is to master a new skill. Maybe it’s to reach a certain belt color. Maybe it’s placing at a tournament. Whatever the goal is, working hard and ultimately trying to achieve that goal will give them a tremendous sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when it comes to martial arts.
- Respect: Kids with short attention spans may have trouble respecting their elders or authority figures. Martial arts teaches kids to respect themselves, respect their instructor and respect their fellow martial artists.
On that note, martial arts also can teach kids about the importance of teamwork. In class, kids will often have sparring partners to practice with as they learn new moves and skills. This way, they learn the importance of working together to achieve a common goal.
It’s been established that there are many positive benefits kids can gain from participating in martial arts. But the fact of the matter is that there are many kinds of martial arts available to participate and each one requires different kinds of discipline.
- Karate is ideal for kids wanting to learn striking techniques where they can use their hands and feet.
- Tae Kwon Do focuses more on sparring and is a very popular competition sport.
- Kung Fu is a great martial art to master for kids with slower reflexes and those who may struggle with kicking. It requires lots of upper body movement and requires concentration and balance.
- Judo is another sparring martial art, but focuses more on throws and defense.
- Jiu Jitsu is a grappling martial art that requires patience, strong conditioning and self-defense.
Kids can have a lot of fun learning martial arts and whichever discipline they focus on, whether it’s kickboxing classes, karate or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, will teach them important life skills while building their confidence and keeping them active.