Why Kids Should Train Karate
Parents often want to enrol their child in karate to improve their grades at school, teach them self discipline or respect for adults, get them into an exercise program (too much TV and video game playing I often hear), instill a sense of self-confidence or simply because they are being bullied in school or in the playground. No doubt these are all good reasons to enrol them in karate, and no doubt karate training can assist your child in all of these areas and more.
Let me start by saying I am a parent of a 3.5 year old daughter and I hope that one day she will take karate training too, or any other martial art that interests her for that matter. Like all kids I am sure she will experiment with many different sports and other activities until she finds the one that is her passion, and my goal like all parents is to provide her with as many opportunities as I am able to.
Before I review the benefits of karate training for kids I would like to discuss a few fundamental principles for parents in order to maximize their investment of time and money in enrolling their child:
Karate in itself will not “fix” whatever you are signing up your child for- Whether it be for discipline, focus, better grades, self-confidence etc. karate can only supplement whatever goal you may have. For example, can karate help your child with better grades at school? No question. But if your child does not have positive role models and teachers outside of karate, is allowed to let studying take a back seat to other activities or has a learning disability, karate in and of itself will not singlehandedly correct it.
Parents need to stay involved with their child’s progress- The best chance of success for your child is to be as involved in their karate practice as you can be. Speak with us when you enrol your child and outline the things you would like us to assist your child with. Sit and observe the classes. Listen to what the teachers are are saying and help to reinforce it at home. Ensure they attend classes regularly. Give us updates and feedback on what is happening to them at school and home. It is a partnership. We only see them when they are with us.
Stick with it- It is important to stay committed to their training over the long term. Key lessons and behaviors are not learned in a day. For example, if one of the goals for your child is to teach them focus and the value of hard work, and then you stop bringing them to class because they are “bored” or they think it is “too hard”, does that not just reinforce the very thing you are trying to avoid? We do our best to make classes fun and enjoyable to kids, but there is no escaping the fact it is hard work. Skills are learned through practice and repetition. Don’t give up after a month because they tried it and want to do something else now.
Be very wary of schools that offer “black belt” programs- Some schools offer you the option to sign them up long-term contracts and promise they will attain a black belt in 2-3 years. This is disingenuous to put it nicely. How do you know they will want or be able to train for that long? What value does the promise of a guaranteed belt level hold if they truly have not earned it yet? The reality is that few people (kids or adults) truly make it to that level. It takes a lot of dedication, steadfast attendance and daily/weekly practice in the dojo and at home to ever reach that level. We do not just test kids every 3 months to collect an extra fee. We test them when we think they are ready, period. However long that may be.
We love to get new students, however we are more concerned with building a sustainable long-term relationship with you and your child than just collecting money from you every month or worse, trying to sell you something that is not true.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s discuss some of the benefits of karate training for your child in my opinion:
Leadership Skills- Both self-leadership and leading others when you attain higher belt levels and are responsible for helping to teach lower belt rank students.
Self-Confidence- Not only how to defend themselves if being bullied but also the confidence that comes with learning how to attain goals and achieve them. Doing things and learning new skills they never knew before.
Respect for Others- A key foundation for martial arts training.
Self-discipline- Karate requires a lot of self-discipline both at and outside the dojo in order to maintain and elevate your level of proficiency as a martial artist.
Concentration- Karate is based upon listening, watching and performing intricate movements which involves a great deal of concentration.
Learning the Value of Hard Work- One of the most important skills learned by children in my opinion. Karate is not easy and nothing is given to you. You learn to work hard to attain belt levels and this takes dedication, time and patience. This is always something I hear parents say is lacking in kids today.
Socialization Skills- Learning how to treat your dojo classmates, teachers and adults with respect and courtesy.
Improved Physical Fitness- Karate involves the 3 pillars of any good exercise program- strength, cardiovascular and flexibility training and is quite vigorous. Few exercise programs can provide the level that martial arts can all at the same time.
Provide Positive Role Models For Your Child- Through the teachers as well as through the other adults, and even kids that are training and have stuck with it.
Restraint- Learning how to defend yourself and then learning how to avoid confrontation and hopefully never having to use it outside the dojo involves a great deal of maturity and restraint for both kids and adults.
I hope this article will help you in determining if karate or any other martial arts program is a good fit for your child, whether it be at our dojo or elsewhere. In my opinion, any traditional martial arts training at school where these values are practiced on a daily basis and benefits are emphasized can only benefit your child.
Article By: Paul Cortissoz