I was asked what I would be enrolling my 5-year old daughter in for a summer activity. I replied that I was enrolling her in a karate class. There was quite a bit of shock and I was asked if I was sure I wanted to enroll her that young, wouldn’t a dance class be better instead, etc. I replied that starting martial arts training young is actually better for them. Here’s why:
It Builds Discipline
Martial arts training involves a lot of discipline. In fact, all martial arts, whether western or eastern, involves building discipline in addition to the physical regimen. Discipline is an important trait that everyone should develop. It can be argued that a lot of the trouble you see kids getting into is because of a lack of discipline. By training discipline early, you also set the foundations for the next benefit:
It Builds a Culture of Respect
One of the core aspects of martial arts training is respect. This is the aspect that focuses on teaching the student to not abuse their strengths, and to respect everyone. As with a lack of discipline, I feel it’s evident that a lot of children aren’t being taught the value of respect, but are instead being taught to embrace entitlement. Parents seem to think it’s cute in kids then realize too late that they can’t reverse it.
By teaching aspiring martial artists the value of respecting others, they are also taught to respect themselves. A lot of emotional abuse that even adults go through is because of the lack of self-respect; they believe they deserve to be in the bad situations they’re in. By teaching self-respect, kids can learn to not accept abuse from others and that their value lies within; it is not defined by others.
It’s a Practical Form of Exercise
One of the biggest hurdles in teaching kids the value of physical exercise for health reasons is they’re usually too young to see the point. After all, most kids feel invincible and a lot are fit from all the playing they do. The problem comes later in life when exercise becomes a must in order to stay fit. Given that martial arts are a practical form of exercise, it won’t be hard to get kids to get into it.
It Never Hurts To Know Self-Defense
In today’s world, with all the violence that seems to occur on a weekly basis, knowing self-defense is a must, especially for young women. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Given that even children aren’t safe from attacks or bullying, having kids learn martial arts at a young age can help them stay safe. In best-case scenarios, they’ll even be able to deter conflict, keeping themselves and others safe.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that other activities such as sports or dancing don’t have their merits or teach similar values. But as a martial arts student myself, I know firsthand what benefits it can offer children. In fact, I wish I had started learning martial arts at a younger age as I’m sure it would have helped me through a lot of the problems I had growing up.
What activities would you want your kids to learn from a young age? If you’d like them to try martial arts, is there a particular martial art you’d want them to learn?