Posted: Autumn 2001
Back to School Means Back to the Dojo for Many Kids
Whether its a return to class after family vacation or little league season or the beginning of an exciting, new after-school activity, martial arts lessons are great for kids. Heres why:
Physical Fitness and Development
Martial arts training increases children’s physical fitness levels by developing strength, speed, endurance, balance, coordination, timing, and improved athletic performance in other sports. A good instructor welcomes a child into class regardless of his or her fitness level. Children who are underweight, overweight, out of shape, or uncoordinated are encouraged to due the best they can and in the process make amazing physical as well as mental transformations.
Due to the widespread popularity of television, computers and video games, many of our children lead sedentary lifestyles. In addition, latchkey kids may have to resort to indoor activities due to the lack of adult supervision during what is normally considered outdoor playtime hours. Many schools, facing budgetary cuts or pressures to focus on academic pursuits, have eliminated or reduced recess and gym classes. Unless their children are active in organized sports, it is often up to the parents to coordinate some type of physical activity for their children’s well being.
Martial art training is a great activity that both parents and children can enjoy together. Here at Calasanz, many parents who bring their kids to the childrens class also take classes themselves. We have made it easy by scheduling adult classes at the same time as the kids class. Teens and pre-teens may train right along side their parents in adult classes. Parents who make exercise a part of their lives are sending a powerful message to their children regarding the importance of integrating physical fitness into their daily routine. Calasanz offers a family plan, as do many martial arts schools, to encourage families to participate together at a reasonable rate.
Improved Self Esteem
Martial arts training helps children build self-esteem. A childs success or failure in martial arts class is directly related to the amount of effort that he or she puts into it. The child is not dependant upon teammates, but must rely on his or her own resources. A good martial arts school gives children many opportunities to succeed, be it in class, during a belt rank exam or organized competitions. The discipline of a martial arts class teaches children how to focus their attention on specific techniques or combinations. Children are required to set and achieve goals if they want to move onto the next level. Mastery of certain skills is necessary before advancing to a new belt rank. A skilled instructor knows how to help children identify and reach their goals and in turn improve their own self-image. It is not surprising to hear many parents tell us that their childrens behavior has improved both at home and in school. Grades also may be positively affected by a good martial arts training program.
Believe it or not, martial arts makes children less aggressive. Martial artists prescribe to a code of ethics that discourages aggression and encourages the perfection of character. A good school encourages children to use other forms of conflict resolution as opposed to solving problems with their fists. Children are taught that fighting is only used as a last resort and that being an aggressor is strictly contrary to the ethical code of a martial artist. Beware of schools that put too much emphasis on fighting, tournaments and dispense with the traditional discipline of the martial arts. It is that very tradition that teaches children to carry themselves with respect, dignity and honor.
Martial arts instruction also teaches children about self-preservation. There are times when one must fight to protect himself or a loved one. Martial arts training helps children value their own self worth and know that there are times when self-defense is the only viable response.
While participation in team sports generally ends for most of us after high school, martial arts may be practiced for a lifetime. Children who are introduced to the martial arts at a young age and stick with it, have the potential for lifetime involvement. How many 80 year olds do you see playing softball or basketball? A martial artist is never too old to train. There are so many martial art styles that are appropriate for mature students. Just take a look at many of the masters who are still practicing and teaching martial arts well into their 80s.
About The Calasanz Childrens Program
Sport Kids is Calasanz personal training program designed for children. Sport Kids is an intensive, total body-conditioning program developed by Calasanz and specifically designed to improve childrens athletic performance in their chosen sport. Sport Kids is a refined system of five martial arts disciplines boiled down to their most efficient training techniques. Sport Kids is designed to improve physical fitness and athletic performance in a short period of time. Calasanz personally tailors an individualized program, designed with the childs specific sport in mind.