Every parent knows how important exercise is for every child (It’s also important for every parent too, but that’s a blog for another time…). However with the rise in ‘additional needs’ diagnoses, parents of children who think & learn differently can have a hard time finding exercise & an outlet that suits them. Enter, not the Dragon, but Martial Arts… there are lots of reasons martial arts can be a good match for children who think & learn differently - here are our top nine benefits that traditional Martial Arts classes can bring to your child:
They focus on individual growth, not on team competition
Many of these children will struggle with the pressure of competing with others, but in martial arts, the focus is on self-improvement. There is no ‘letting the team down’. Here at Family Martial Arts Centres, we focus on the individual & their potential and we work to improve both.
They work toward specific goals
Often, children who learn and think differently feel like they never ‘win’ at anything. In traditional Martial Arts, children work at their own pace to a set syllabus. They get to earn a different coloured belt every time they reach a new level (known as ‘graduating’). This boosts self-esteem & keeps them motivated.
Routines are broken down into chunks
Techniques in Martial Arts can often have many different movements. Children (and adults) learn gradually, repeating & adding steps as they go, learning to anticipate which step comes next. Eventually, they can put everything together into fluid movements. Here at Family Martial Arts Centres, we break things down makes them easier to assimilate & remember.
They emphasise self-control & concentration
‘Concentration’ is one of Tang Soo Do’s eight founding tenets (it appears in most martial arts too). Focus & attention is central to traditional Martial Arts - students need to stay focused in order to learn & to carry out the physical moves. Our syllabus-based classes keep things fresh & interesting , meaning that concentration & focus should not waver too much. Good instructors will often have a range of tricks & skills to keep students engaged, such as asking them to take the ‘ready stance’, allowing the student to reset & prepare themselves for whatever is next.
They help with co-ordination
Movements associated with martial arts can help children (and adults) get a better feel for their body in space. This is good for people who struggle with motor skills. It also helps children understand the power of the mind over the body.
They provide structure
Good martial arts Instructors have clear rules & constantly reinforce them. They emphasise good behaviour in & out of class - something we at Family Martial Arts Centres emphasise using the Leadership handbooks & homework.
They are a safe way for children to use up extra energy
It’s a myth that martial arts encourage violent behaviour - traditional martial arts are built around ‘discipline’ & ‘respect’, and these are key mental skills that sit alongside the physical ones. Instructors often emphasise fighting is a last resort. At the same time, blocking, striking & kicking lets children (and adults) work out their frustrations or anger while practicing self-control.
It is an accepting, inclusive environment
Respect is a core value in martial arts. Children are expected & taught how to show it for their Instructor & their peers. They are also taught ways in which to earn it. Negativity is generally not tolerated in classes & students are encouraged to support each other.
They are cool
Children who learn & think differently sometimes feel awkward or out of the loop, but lots of children think martial arts are cool. It’s hard not to feel special when you’re wearing your martial arts gear & breaking boards in half!
Here at Family Martial Arts Centres, we support a range of students with a variety of additional needs and who think & learn differently. Get in touch if you think you know someone else who we can help?