As parents, we want to keep our children active and healthy outside of school. We know it is important for them to be involved in some sort of activity. And although team sports can be wonderful for kids to have camaraderie, learn the value of teamwork and get in some cardiovascular exercise, they are not necessarily for everyone.
Not every child is super social or needs a lot of interaction with other kids. As a matter of fact, some kids really struggle with that. Not all kids are great at kicking or hitting a ball. And that is ok too, because martial arts has a place for them.
One of the main benefits of martial training is that kids can build their self-confidence in a healthy, accepting way. Goals are set and met in a non-intimidating environment, where everyone works at their own pace and emphasis is put on individual achievement. There is no pressure to do well so that the team does well. Children are not judged if they are not as skilled as the child standing next to them. In martial arts, everyone is accepted for what they can do. Everyone works at their own ability.
Everything about martial arts is self-paced and about bettering oneself. Students have instruction time in class, but it is up to them to practice outside of the dojo and develop learning habits to address the areas they need more practice in. Some of these learning habits may include asking an instructor or another student for help. This builds confidence and accountability.
Achievements in martial arts are awarded using belts. These are awarded at each step to becoming a master. Earning these are no small task. Children earn these on their own and gain a surge of self-confidence each time they receive one. They motivate them to continue on and give them the confidence to move to the next level.
Another wonderful aspect about practicing martial arts is that there is no such thing as 'sitting on the bench'. In team sports, as sad as it is true, oftentimes the goal is to win. If you are not the best player, or still need to hone your skills to be an asset to the team, you could sit the bench. This not only destroys a kid's confidence, but there is no way to get better when you are warming the bench. This does not happen in martial arts. Everyone works together and progresses at their individual pace and level.
Unlike team sports, where once you graduate playing a team sport ends, martial arts is a lifelong activity. It is something that can be done from age 5 to 105. Not to mention that martial arts can be something the entire family enjoys doing together. There are no age restrictions in classes.
Martial arts is gender equal, meaning everyone trains together. There are no separate 'teams'. And the best part is, it is a year round activity!
Whether you're looking for an activity to teach coordination, focus and self-discipline, or just a way to stay physically active, there's something in martial arts for everyone with the desire to learn and motivation to improve.