Martial Life – 8 Unexpected Skills Martial Arts Teaches Children
Martial Arts appeals to children and families for all different reasons. Some of the more popular reasons instructors hear from parents:
“My child is being teased and bullied at school.”
“I want my child to be more confident.”
“We really just want her to stay active and busy and involved in another sport.”
“He really loves those martial arts movies. His whole bedroom is Ninja Turtles.”
“She really needs the discipline and the focus.”
Self Defense, confidence boost, physical fitness, interest, discipline, focus… these are all great reasons to sign up your child for martial arts. Straight up – Martial Arts is good for you and it’s good for your kids. But it’s good for far more than just the standard, popular reasons. Here, I’ve complied several slightly unconventional reasons why Martial Arts is good for your children.
1. Have a quiet child? Involve them in martial arts.
Introverted children don’t have any interest in team sports; they don’t thrive on the energy of a team, and prefer to work by themselves. The great thing about martial arts – it’s a personal journey with a great supportive community around them. Introverted kiddos can do their own thing, but it also satisfies parents who might want their children to branch out and be a bit more social too. Social in a stress free environment. Win-win.
2. Instant Gratification… and Extended Gratification.
Wait, what? How can martial arts be both? And who wants to encourage instant gratification? Most parents want to push their children towards understanding that there is more satisfaction in the waiting. But children need to be taught how to wait. Children aren’t born with the ability to wait. Try telling a screaming, hungry, irate baby to wait for that bottle to warm up in the crock. To children, there’s no such thing as waiting. Martial arts is a great way to teach this idea of waiting. There is instant gratification in a good class, in a good kick, or a good punch, or a good pattern. There’s instant gratification in getting that first white belt, then getting the next stripe not long after. But every belt and every stripe after that gradually gets longer, and longer, until the time between ranks becomes months and months, even years. Children are taught how to extend the gratification of achieving a goal. Instant gratification keeps them coming back to the next class and the next class and the next class; extended gratification keeps them coming back month after month, year after year.
3. Public speaking.
Yes. Public speaking. There will come a time when your child will have to talk to someone in martial arts, teach someone, or even teach a class. And if they can do it in martial arts, that skill will carry over into school and life.
4. Friends. Good friends. Quality over Quantity.
All parents want their children to have friends, but not just any friends. Good friends, supportive friends, healthy friends, strong friends. Friends that don’t get into fights, who don’t get into trouble, who are good citizens, who don’t do drugs, who are positive role models and peers to their children. Martial arts will keep your child in good company. Friends who bleed, cry, hurt, and achieve together – stay together.
5. Adult Role Models.
It’s powerful when children say: “I wanna be like mommy or daddy when I grow up.” But how much more powerful is it for your child to say they want to be like someone else? That someone else can have that big of an impact on your child is powerful. It can be negatively powerful or positively powerful. I’m not a parent, but I feel like I’d be kind of sketched out if my kiddo told me they wanted to be “just like” some famous sports player – great, so my child wants oodles of money, a huge ego, may be into scandalous sex and drugs, and super famous. But how wonderful for my child to feel inspired by their martial arts teachers – people who are humble and respectful and gracious, people who make positive life choices, who impact the lives of others, who give, who teach, who better themselves and others by example. I’d like my child to be like that. And I’d like my child to recognize a good role model when they see one. Martial arts provides that.
6. Teaches Kids How to Fail.
That’s right. You heard me. Martial arts teaches your child how to fail at something… and how to be gracious in defeat. For it is in failure that they will find success. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone to perform something and I’ve messed up. I’ve learned to be gracious in failure, to not throw a temper tantrum about it, to check my emotions, and how to use that failure and that embarrassment to drive myself to succeed. Martial artists are forged from fire. It is not how they fall that matters, but it is how they get back up. Martial arts teaches your child how to fall, how to fail… and how to pull themselves back up and plow forward to success.
7. Checking the Ego at the Door.
Martial arts doesn’t care if you are voted prom queen, if you have the latest iPhone, if you have only the most expensive designer clothes. It doesn’t care what your grades are in school, doesn’t care what car you drive, doesn’t care what trophies and achievements you’ve unlocked on your PlayStation. There’s no time for ego in the martial arts. Martial arts cares about dedication, focus, hard work, determination, humility. Martial arts teaches your child – in short – how not to brag.
8. Body control.
Wait, didn’t I list physical fitness as one of the common reasons parents sign up their kids? Physical fitness does not equal body control. I’ve seen some super fit, active kids come in who can’t organize their limbs to do a jumping jack. I’ve seen children grow into teenagers overnight and suddenly, they can’t figure out their legs and arms. Martial arts – more so than other sports – teaches children body control. Teaches them spacial awareness. It teaches them their own space and their own body and how to use it in relation to everyone and everything.
Martial Arts teaches so much more than I could ever list. And it teaches children differently than it teaches adults. This list is not conclusive – it just offers a different perspective than what one might expect. You and your children are getting so much more out of martial arts than just self defense, discipline, focus, physical activity, even more than community and support and respect. The life lessons are endless – if parents want their children to grow up to be happy, whole, respectful, giving citizens of the world, consider a martial art in addition to all those school-organized team sports. It can only help.
Has martial arts given your child something unexpected? Tell us about it, share your thoughts in the comments.