Why should children learn martial arts?
Most martial schools provide a programme for children. Whilst there is no guidance determining the minimum age to begin participation in martial arts, it is clear there are benefits for all ages. Although many still perceive martial arts to be nothing more than learning to fight, punch and kick, the emotional, psychological and social benefits which martial arts provide go way beyond the simplistic idea of physical development.
The physical developments themselves go much further than the acquisition of combative skills. Fundamental improvements in gross motor skills, coordination, balance, cardiorespiratory function, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility are all available through regular training in the martial arts. For children, the actual application and function of the skills learnt should not be the primary focus.
Establishing an essential foundation of positive physical behaviours and regular activity is of much greater importance in the first instance. Emphasis on skill application and function, whilst key, should be provided as children develop greater cognitive, emotional and social awareness. This awareness is further assisted by martial arts training. Improving ability to concentrate and focus on activities is one area of cognitive development provided, one which directly transfers to all areas of life, including academic performance.
Goal setting and achievement is equally assisted through training. The grading and belt award system present in many modern martial arts gives children easily identifiable targets for which to aim and achieve. In turn this provides the participant with an associated growth in self awareness and self confidence. For children, positively affirming their achievements and providing recognition is important, martial arts training provides an excellent basis for this.
Behaviourally, aspects such self discipline and emotional control are much more defined within children whom study martial arts. Whilst sporting activities reinforce competitive success as being the sole aim, martial arts concern themselves with a developmental journey of self discovery and understanding. The nature of the activity itself cannot be truly understood without providing an emphasis onto the need for self discipline. Through regular attendance, commitment to training and development of their ability, children can readily identify the positive behavioural traits required to grow and succeed. Whilst exposure to competitive environments is key, the martial arts provide much more of a holistic opportunity for self development, regardless of age.
Our approach towards providing martial arts for children supports these benefits. In the early years, through our Little Ninjas programme, we focus on getting younger children (3 years to 6 years) more active and positively support them in this. Through a strong emphasis on games and play, martial arts technique is introduced and developed in a structured but relaxed manner. Little Ninja classes allow younger children to explore and develop their abilities in an enjoyable way, with a small group learning environment providing for social development and interaction. Through maintaining a small group approach we also provide an environment whereby each child can be individually supported within the development of their own potential.
For more information concerning our Little Ninjas programme please contact us.