“The martial arts are ultimately self-knowledge. A punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front, but to knock the hell out of your ego, your fear, or your hang-ups.”
– Bruce Lee
Whether your kid is too bossy, too shy, or perhaps just a little hyper, the martial arts can help your child learn many important life lessons. (And, of course, those same lessons apply for all of us, not just kids.)
Here are eight reasons why your child should practice martial arts:
Reason #1: They (and You) Will Get More Active
This is the obvious reason kids should do martial arts in this day and age – to get active and moving. Youth sports and physical education programs are great, but not every kid is an athlete and many schools no longer offer PE. The martial arts offer many benefits, but when it comes to fitness, becoming a true martial artist means becoming a supremely fit person.
Reason #2: They’ll Learn to Find Focus and Stillness
As Bruce Lee pointed out, behind the punches, kicks, and knees, a true martial artist learns to sit with himself and see where his weaknesses are. As a martial artist, your child will learn what it is to be still, challenged, and focused.
Reason #3: They’ll Learn to Take Hits
In the martial arts, your child will learn what it is to take a hit, whether that hit is a literal blow or a disappointment like failing a test.
Part of life is learning that we all take hits. The key is in learning how best to take that hit and get back up. Unfortunately, this lesson seems to be lost on many in our every-kid-gets-a-trophy culture. In the martial arts, your kid will learn to fail – a lot. Half of martial arts is hitting, but half is also getting hit.
Reason #4: They’ll Gain Self Confidence and Self Respect
The right martial arts school will teach your child that there are no tough guys. Every martial artist ultimately learns this sense of respect and true confidence. Your child will learn that confidence and respect for others comes from a deep sense of self-knowledge.
Reason #5: They’ll Connect Their Mind and Body
A martial artist is taught to see, feel, and listen – both internally and externally. Tapping into intuition, fear, and courage are examples of being able to put the physical together with the mental. How often have we heard the phrase “being paralyzed with fear”? Being able to combat such a thing is what you learn in the martial arts.
Reason #6: They’ll Learn Conflict Resolution
One of the first lessons Sensei taught us in Ninjutsu was that words were never grounds for a fight. That advice right there has saved me many times. In the martial arts, you learn that there is no such thing as “fighting” words. Instead, you learn to respond without reacting in the martial arts.
Reason #7: They’ll Learn to Breathe
Indeed, nothing is more essential to the success of how we move our body than tapping into the life force of our essence – our breath. Ask a professional athlete, or an actor, dancer, or signer, and they will tell you that to succeed in any physical craft is to access your breath correctly.
Reason # 8: They’ll develop a strong habit for life
As to what martial art, it’s honestly not very important. For a typical five or eight year old the point is to just get them moving and focused.
Build a strong habit which will permeates through all areas of their lives for a very long time.