Karate and other forms of martial arts are contact sports that yield the obvious physical benefit. However, the benefits of karate for kids extend beyond that. Kids are like sponges – they soak up knowledge easily and quickly. It’s important to make sure that what your kids are absorbing is healthy and good for them. The purpose of karate is more than building physical strength and agility; it’s also about the mentality. What does karate teach kids, and what are the benefits? Let’s find out.
The Benefits Of Martial Arts For Kids
Physical Benefits Of Martial Arts For Children
1. Self Defense
First and foremost, material arts teach kids how to defend themselves – but not unprovoked. Understanding how to react in the face of danger or threat is highly important, especially for young women.
Kids can’t always be with their parents or someone with a protective role, and kids learning how to protect themselves can also bring peace of mind to the parents. Karate and most martial arts are a sweet balance between defense and offense. It’s a crucial step to teach kids that just because they can defend themselves, it doesn’t always mean they should.
2. Energy Release
People have different ways to channel excess energy or emotions, and many of us choose to do it through physical activity. Children are very energetic, and giving them an outlet to express themselves is great for their development.
Not only that, but being able to handle their emotions by releasing them rather than holding them in will also teach children how to manage their feelings. Those with learning difficulties, such as ADHD and ADD, can benefit from a child karate class as it helps concentration and focus.
3. Weight Maintenance
Exercise helps kids and adults maintain their weight. Children are constantly growing, so not many will have unmanageable weight problems, but the knowledge goes even deeper. Karate and martial arts teach kids that the body is a temple, and it’s something to be cared for and not taken for granted. Many martial arts also promote healthy eating habits such as balanced meals, more fruit, and plant-based diets that go hand-in-hand with physical activity.
These are habits that can be established at a young age and become a lifestyle in adulthood.
4. Improved Physical Health
Practicing karate at least three times a week in 1-hour long sessions can meet the US Department of Health’s recommendation for exercise. With martial arts, your child can learn agility, become more flexible, improve cardiovascular function, learn to focus, act with precision and intent, improve mobility, and so much more.
Come to think of it, there isn’t really a drawback to enrolling children in karate class. There is always a risk of physical injury, but martial arts classes are in a safe and controlled environment with a sensei present, which greatly decreases the risk.
5. Gets Your Kids Away from the Screen
Ever since smartphones became a thing at the beginning of this century, kids have been moving further away from wholesome activities and becoming glued to mobile devices. Encouraging your child to practice karate can at least take time away from the screen. Staring at the tablet, smartphone, and TV screen has negative effects on health and also helps them connect with their peers.
Mental Health Benefits Of Karate For Kids
1. Builds Confidence
Karate class can boost your kid’s confidence as the senseis offer support, encouragement, and constructive criticism, that are meant to hone techniques and build confidence. In many forms of martial arts, the opponent’s size can be less of a consideration than the skills and techniques. It’s possible for a smaller opponent to take down someone larger and heavier, and knowing this gives smaller kids more confidence.
It is very difficult to directly teach kids how to be confident. It’s something that needs to be learned through experience and mental guidance, and martial arts provides the environment to do that successfully.
2. Develops Leadership Skills and Humility
Like confidence, leadership skills are developed. Of course, some will rise to the role more easily than others, but a true leader is one who can lead but also be led. Many martial arts have a ranking system; let’s take karate, for example. Karate has color-coded obi (belts), with each color representing a different tier. Each tier is distinguished by skill and mastery.
It’s likely that someone in a ranking higher is younger. We have the impression that the older someone is, the wiser they are and the more knowledge they have to impart. While this could be true, it doesn’t work like that in karate. The belt system can teach children humility because karatekas (karate practitioners) have to respect those of a higher rank.
3. Karate Teaches Patience and Effort
One of the major virtues karate teaches is patience. In order to rise up in the ranks, children must first master the requirements at their level, which can take many months to even years. Only with hard work, consistency, and patience can students advance to the next level. Other than skill, kids are also evaluated on the values of karate and what they have learned mentally and emotionally.
4. Promotes Self-Discipline
Mastering karate moves takes a lot of discipline. It involves a lot of repetition, which can get boring and frustrating over time. Only those with discipline can keep at it until they reach their goals. No one will create a timeline for how long it should take and micro-manage students to make sure they level up – it’s all self-discipline. Children must be committed to the craft, and that takes a lot of self-discipline.
5. Emotional Management
We mentioned before that karate helps kids release pent-up energy, but it also aids in emotional management. Emotional management is one of the hardest life skills for us humans. Take stress, for example; sometimes, even adults can lash out when they are under a lot of pressure, but think about what it’s like for kids? They have stresses and pressures as well and are usually less equipped to handle it, but karate can help.
What To Look For In A Martial Arts Class
Picking the right martial arts class can affect how kids learn all of the above. Here are aspects you should look for.
The instructor, or sensei, is the person that will impart all his or her wisdom. Not only do they have to be a master of their craft, but they have to spend time teaching kids the core characteristics needed to become a master one day.
The instructor should be someone who is caring, patient, kind, and firm. Instructors should put the kids first, identify individual needs and tailor their methods to cater to each kid. Not only should the teachings be a physical challenge, but they should also stimulate the children mentally.
You may not know how each class is carried out before you enroll, but you could ask to sit in on a class to gauge whether or not it would be a good fit.
What the instructor teaches and how it’s done is another crucial aspect to consider. Is the sensei a pushover that takes more of a friend role with the kids, or is he or she someone who is kind and patient but is still an authority figure?
Senseis who are worthy of their salt will create an environment that’s stimulating and rewarding and has rules and discipline. Parents can get a much better idea if they get to sit in on a lesson. If not, see how the sensei interacts with you. Are they very engaging and involve you in the conversation, making you aware of what your kid is struggling with or excelling at?
The staff and sensei’s overall attitude is important, but the maintenance and cleanliness of the school is as well. You do not want your kid to come home with a staff infection because the dojo is rarely cleaned.
Martial arts is an excellent after-school activity. Some people have the misconception that it teaches violence, but in reality, martial arts can teach children how to be controlled and less violent. Not only that, but it’s also a valuable resource for a child’s mental and physical health.