The Value of Martial Arts Training for Children
Some parents are reticent to allow their children to take martial arts lessons in the fear that such training will make them more aggressive and combative. The truth is quite the opposite, however–training in the martial arts actually teaches children restraint, respect, and self-control, all of which are positive traits that parents attempt to instill on their own with varying degrees of success. Other positive benefits of martial arts training for children include increased physical fitness and the ability to defend themselves and others should a genuine need ever arise.
All quality martial arts schools stress respect and self-control to a degree that is rarely seen in other aspects of American society. Students are required to always be polite in speech and action, to show restraint at all times, and to treat others with respect. These messages are reinforced by the actions of fellow students and instructors, and infringement of these precepts is met with some sort of disciplinary action such as being forced to sit out the rest of the lesson or to do extra push ups or sit ups. The martial arts student learns that positive behavior is rewarded and negative behavior is punished or ignored.
Some have said that we are currently in an “obesity epidemic.” While comparing obesity to the Spanish flu might seem a bit ostentatious, the fact remains that American children are more overweight and inactive than ever before. This is leading to an increase in the occurrence of juvenile diabetes, heart problems, and other serious health disorders caused by leading a sedentary lifestyle. Martial arts training is typically quite physically rigorous and, particularly if classes occur more than two days a week, can have a very real positive impact on health.
The self-defense aspects of martial arts training for children are minor when compared to the positive benefits of health and attitude. However, the ability to react to stressful situations with a clear mind and a thorough knowledge of how to defend oneself against a violent attack is a very real benefit and could even be a lifesaver. This is the one aspect of martial arts that every student and instructor hopes that he or she will never have to use, but it is nice to know that the knowledge is there should the terrible need ever arise.