Martial arts provide numerous benefits for people of all ages. And it really shines in helping kids. But will martial arts help my child at school?
Here’s what I’ve seen:
As a general rule, the skills acquired from martial arts will help children at school. Children learn respect, discipline, focus, self-regulation, perseverance, and confidence in a structured and safe environment. And all of those skills can benefit them at school.
It has often been stated that a child or adolescent’s primary responsibility is to excel academically while also having fun and being a kid.
So, it makes sense to involve them in activities that touch on both of those areas. And martial arts is actually one of the best ways to do that. So in this article, we’ll review all the benefits of martial arts and see how those can correlate to improved performance at school.
But beyond that, we’ll examine just how much martial arts can improve your child’s behavior and performance overall.
We can’t stress enough the bounty of benefits martial arts can offer your children! From physical to mental, the effects are lasting and positive. pic.twitter.com/buzZaxLFTH
— Degerberg Academy (@degerberg) September 7, 2018
What skills do martial arts teach children?
The primary skills martial arts teach children include:
- To challenge themselves
- Goal setting
But let’s examine each of those in greater detail, why they are important and how martial arts helps instill those qualities:
Many children struggle to stay focused on the task at hand.
Martial arts will teach youngsters this valuable skill, whether through the use of a breaking board, punching pad, or physical movement control.
This newly acquired attention extends beyond the mat and can be applied to other areas such as homework and reading. (source)
A child needs to learn discipline in order to be effective at martial arts.
Dojos have a serious and disciplined atmosphere. Instructors will not put up with needless or excessive talking. These disciplinary actions have an impact on the classroom.
It also results in higher grades and a more controlled attitude. (source)
To challenge themselves
Martial arts urge students to push themselves further than they believe they are capable of going.
Seeing progress in martial arts will cause a child to apply that same principle in the classroom, hence resulting in better grades.
This behavior will surely help in approaching difficult homework and classwork.
The achievement of goals in martial arts is usually recognized by the issuance of colored belts when marking progress.
The colors of the belts urge children to strive for the next level. Setting these kinds of goals will help motivate pupils to set goals, like acquiring a degree.
Relationships in martial arts are built on a foundation of basic respect for instructors, teachers, and students.
Many teachers use class time to talk about the value of respect and how it affects everyone’s life. Teaching students to respect others will carry over into their daily lives and education.
Martial arts students build confidence as they realize they can manage problems and maintain control.
As they gain physical strength, their confidence grows, and they become less fearful of confrontation. This will enable the learner to defend themself against bullies and potential assailants.
This becomes part of them forever.
It’s not uncommon for kids (and many adults, for that matter) to give up or throw a tantrum when they try something and can’t get it or fail at it.
Martial arts teaches kids how to work through challenging situations (like a sparring match or getting smushed in a BJJ or Judo match) without giving up or getting angry.
It does this by:
- Repetition of training the skills (repetition is the mother of mastery)
- A colored belt system to keep them motivated and working towards the next level
- A spiritual component and breathwork to give them a tool to use to calm their nervous system
Aikido for children… 🙂 🙂 pic.twitter.com/bUi4uDQwde
— Hikari No Aikido Dojo Verőce (@HVeroce) May 13, 2021
What type of martial arts should my child start?
The best martial arts for kids are:
- Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ)
But let’s review each of those in greater detail so you understand why they are good and so you can choose the one that is most likely to resonate with your child.
After all, no matter how great you think it is, if they don’t love it, they won’t want to stick with it. And at that point, it will become a battle, and you’ll eventually get worn down and give in.
If you’re seeking non-violent martial arts for kids, Aikido is one.
It doesn’t have the best reputation for self-defense because it has a do-no-harm philosophy, and violence would always be an absolute last resort.
However, because it focuses on wrist locks and regulating arm movement, it is useful against aggressive, untrained people who lack control.
Aikido is an excellent choice for young children who struggle to focus in more difficult martial arts sessions.
It is often recommended that persons learning Aikido acquire martial art to gain greater self-defense skills later in life.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is regarded as one of the best martial arts for self-defense since it teaches abilities that may be used against larger and stronger opponents.
BJJ is ideal for smaller and/or weaker children since it is not dependent on strength or power, allowing smaller opponents to defend themselves.
Instead of striking or kicking, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu employs grappling techniques that emphasize distance management, leverage, positioning, and submissions. So to the uninitiated, it will look like wrestling.
Jiu-Jitsu translates to “gentle way,” as it teaches pupils how to employ just the perfect amount of power to get out of difficult situations.
Some parents might think martial arts are too dangerous for girls. I have 3 daughters, all of whom have loved martial arts at different times in their lives, so I can speak to this well.
I have a recent article on what is the best martial art for teenage girls, what special considerations to take, and how to keep them motivated to stick with it.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
Karate is one of the most widely practiced martial arts in the world.
It began as a technique of weaponless self-defense in Okinawa, Japan, during a period when firearms were prohibited and translated to “empty hands” in Japanese.
Traditional Karate believes that the real enemy is one’s own mind.
Hence the teachings place a heavy emphasis on:
- Spiritual development
- Discipline to help one master oneself
Karate involves full-body, balanced motions, and training concentrated on blocks, blows, punches, evasions, and kicks to enable counter-strikes.
A lot of parents and kids wonder whether Karate can actually speed up growth or make you taller.
In a recent article, I discussed that topic. But I get very specific about the medical facts from actual studies, too, so you know the “real” answer.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
Martial arts is a great way to teach children focus, coordination, flexibility, and stamina. Plus, it’s super fun. pic.twitter.com/qyNDwNuRIH
— Flower Mound Taekwondo (@FlowerMoundTKD) September 21, 2020
How do martial arts develop focus and control in my child?
In martial arts, children learn how to concentrate and conserve their energy in order to execute tasks such as breaking a board or punching a target. But the drills are also practiced repetitively to perfection. The end result is improved focus and self-control.
Martial arts are based on self-control and discipline, which are taught by instructors who work hard to keep children focused on the task at hand.
Practicing this style of attention can also help kids concentrate on homework, reading assignments, and other tasks.
A martial arts class’s varied physical exercise has been demonstrated in studies to develop neural pathways in the brain and help overactive children practice self-control. Furthermore, the moves of the martial art they pursue might help kids develop coordination and physical strength.
But what about anxious kids?
Check out my recent article where I talked about whether Karate can help with anxiety. I get into the science behind it too, so it’s not just based on my observations in working with thousands of kids over the years.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
Albert just earned his Yellow Belt recently and because he’s 7 years old he can now practice Bo Staff. He’s serious about martial arts training. pic.twitter.com/U4Q4r6OUTS
— New Age Taekwondo (@NewAgeTaekwondo) December 13, 2020
What is the best age for a child to start martial arts?
The best age to start a child in martial arts is between 7 and 10 years. According to statistics, students who begin classes between the ages of 7 and 10 stay in martial arts longer than any other age group.
One of the biggest questions among martial arts and self-defense schools is the age at which children should begin learning martial arts.
After all, many schools start kids as young as age 3.
Many parents’ perspectives differ; some believe that children should start as soon as possible, while others believe that doing so too soon can be harmful.
However, practically, the age will be determined by the child, the martial art, the school philosophy, and other considerations.
Children under the age of six may lack the necessary motor skills to master punches and kicks. But they can still have fun exercising, connecting with other kids, and learning about martial arts.
Consider chatting with a martial arts instructor and/or observing a class by yourself first.
That will give you a good idea of how the instructor speaks to children. After all, you don’t want one of those schools where the instructors build respect by fear or shame. Then have your child do a free trial class before committing to make sure they like it.
It is critical to make informed decisions when it comes to investing their time and your money.
Speaking of money, I discussed in a recent article of mine if you can claim martial arts on your taxes just like you can daycare. Sounds funny, but remember, every cent counts.
Click the link to read the article on my website.
Did you know? Studying martial arts can improve the lives of children with ADHD. Kids who lack focus, have excess energy, and tend to act out can learn to channel those qualities into martial arts training! pic.twitter.com/zezLzGewKL
— SC Wado Kai Karate (@SouthWado) October 5, 2018
Which martial art is best for ADHD?
Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, and Tai Chi were shown to be the most effective martial arts for those with ADHD in a study conducted by a physical education school in Turkey.
Individual sports are excellent for children with ADHD since they need individual focus. Individual sports, such as BJJ, allow you to compete for yourself while also being a part of a team and finding methods to relate to team members.
Children with ADHD find it much easier to focus with fewer distractions, and the coaching is tailored precisely.
An athlete with ADHD may struggle to pay attention if they are playing a sport where the coaching is aimed more at the team as a whole. Children with learning disabilities and behavioral issues appear to thrive in the structured atmosphere of a dojo (self-defense training school).
Martial arts provide a terrific, relaxing routine and are really helpful for helping children with attention deficit or hyperactivity problems focus.
In the starting paragraphs, we talked about the skills martial arts teach children. We then talked about what martial art should a child begin with.
We moved on with how martial arts help develop focus and control in children and what age is best for a child to start martial arts classes.
We wrapped up the article with which martial art is best for ADHD.