By Cara Koch
What does Karate teach a child? Far more than you might expect if you’ve never delved into the martial arts world before.
Parents have various reasons for considering self-defense classes for kids. They can range from simply wanting them to be able to defend themselves to helping to manage behavioral issues or work through a traumatic experience.
But, is Karate good for kids?
Absolutely! While there are pros and cons to everything, there are a plethora of benefits of Karate for kids that parents should know if they are considering enrolling their child in martial arts.
Benefits of Karate for Kids
There is nearly no aspect of your child’s life where Karate won’t have an impact. The philosophy of Karate is far more than a sport and its benefits are far-reaching and interconnected. It’s almost hard to slow down and explain them all to you, but here we go!
1. Great Exercise
It’s a sad fact that most kids don’t get enough exercise these days. The average child spends about 7 ½ hours per day in front of a screen and only 1 in 3 kids get exercise each day. Considering this information, it’s not surprising that the obesity rate for kids hovers around 17%.
While it may not be surprising, it is saddening. Obesity is an underlying factor in numerous diseases and an obese person is statistically more likely to die at a younger age than a person of healthy weight. Furthermore, the risk increases exponentially the higher the person’s BMI (Body Mass Index).
One of the best ways you can keep your child healthy and help give them a long, happy life is by instilling healthy exercise habits in them. If you’ve ever taken a martial arts class, you know just how much good exercise you can get. You might even consider signing up with your child. After all, children learn the most by your example!
2. Safe Way to Burn off Energy
Sometimes kids just need to burn off excess energy or frustration. A martial arts class provides a safe place for them to do it.
Kids face all sorts of difficult situations, but they may not always know how to handle them or express how they feel about them. Sometimes, their parents may not even know the silent battle they are fighting.
Intense physical activity, as well as punching a mannequin or kicking a bag are excellent ways to release that pent up energy and emotion.
Research is also discovering that regular exercise can help many children who struggle with conditions such as ADHD control their symptoms with less or no need for medication.
3. Develop Hand-Eye Coordination
Though some people seem to develop their hand-eye coordination more rapidly, nobody is born with it. A newborn baby can’t reach out and pick up a rattle because their hand doesn’t know where it is in space, even though their eyes can see it.
This skill begins developing quickly, however, which is fantastic because it is integral to everything we do. Whether you want to catch a ball or drive a car, you need good hand-eye coordination to do it.
Of course, some people develop better hand-eye coordination than others. The good news is that anyone can improve it by participating in activities that require its use.
There’s the benefit of martial arts for kids. Learning to kick and punch accurately, as well as many of the physical movements help children further develop this essential skill.
4. Build Self-Confidence
Though there are many physical benefits of Karate, they don’t stop there. There are also many mental and emotional benefits of practicing the sport.
A big one is self-confidence.
Exercise is already good for your self-confidence. It stimulates the production of endorphins, dopamine, and other feel-good chemicals in the brain. When you feel good about yourself, it’s natural for your self-confidence to improve.
While the purpose of martial arts is not to incite violence, knowing that you can defend yourself against an attack is another major confidence booster.
Plus, there’s just something about breaking a board with your bare hands that makes you feel like you can take on the world!
We touched on this a bit already when we talked about ADHD, but let’s develop the thought further. Learning martial arts requires focus, determination, and memory. Children must be able to remember all the moves in the kata required to pass to the next level. They must be able to zero in on a target to strike it. And they must be able to fully focus on a sparring opponent.
As these skills develop in martial arts class, they will spill over into other areas of life. For example, it is common to see kids’ grades improve after beginning to study Karate.
6. Develop Self-Discipline and Respect
From the moment your child sets foot in a dojo, they will begin learning discipline and respect. A dojo is a place of respect, both towards the master and the other students. Students are taught to bow at certain times and to certain people as a signal of their respect. Talking out of turn and unruly behavior are not tolerated in a dojo.
As these principles begin to take root in your child, they spill over into other areas of their life. Respect for others grows into respect for themselves. A disciplined approach in class leads to a disciplined approach to life in general.
Make no mistake, the lessons learned in a dojo go far beyond just kicking and punching.
Learn more about the benefits and main concerns of Karate here.