These days, it seems like the opportunities for after school “enrichment” activities for our children are endless. We find ourselves feeling pressured as parents: “If I don't sign her up for ballet, horseback riding, gymnastics, Mandarin, Spanish, cooking classes (organic), Scouts, chess, maker’s workshop, cheerleading, soccer, violin (Suzuki), piano, voice lessons, (etc.!) how will she get ahead in the world?!”

Luckily, many parents are making the choice to remove themselves and their families from the terror of over-scheduling, based on great research in recent years. We want our children to have time to be children, but we would still like to choose a hobby for them to participate in that's going to provide real benefits and life skills. We want quality over quantity, but which activity to choose?

Martial Arts is the perfect choice.

The benefits of training in Martial Arts are innumerable, but here are five that all parents will love:

1. Focus

We live in a culture of chronically short attention spans, and our kids are certainly not immune. For many parents, just getting the family to sit still for an entire meal is a major challenge.

In martial arts, children learn focus. They must sit in a ready position, or work to hold a stance every class. They must concentrate in order to do the new moves accurately. I’ve personally seen kids with ADHD, or other learning differences, learn to stay proudly focused while completing a training drill, or listening to their instructor. This focus doesn’t disappear when they leave the class, either. Over time, like all practiced behaviors, focus becomes a habit that these young students access as they move through their day to day lives.

2. Goal Setting (and Goal Getting)

Too often it seems like kids are being rewarded in other activities just for showing up. In martial arts, a student naturally learns to set lofty goals (like earning a black belt!), and work toward them. Martial artists are competing with only themselves, and the hard work they put into themselves is directly proportional to the results they get out. No effort = No advancement.

There is nothing quite like the pride and excitement of a once-white belt testing successfully to the next rank. Why is he so proud? Because he knows he made the choice to work toward his goal, and through his actions and many (sometimes difficult) choices, he succeeded. The realization that goal setting, self-empowerment, and hard work can equal a dream come true is a powerful lesson for kids.

3. Confidence

I don’t know many parents who do not wish for their children to be more confident. We want our children to feel secure in themselves, and be able to approach the challenges in life with a winning attitude. But the world is a big, sometimes scary place for small people (let’s be honest - for big people, too), and it can be rough out there for a shy kid.

As kids attempt “scary” things, and succeed through trial and error, they build self-confidence. A martial arts school is the ideal platform for this process: From their very first tentative steps into a new building, where they are the lowest kiddo on the totem pole, martial arts is a constant journey of difficult tasks to be mastered. That black belt you see teaching white belts confidently, and then practicing her weapons forms with apparent ease had to start somewhere - and that somewhere was as a shy, terrified, excited white belt. Plus, knowing self-defense techniques is a huge confidence booster for anyone.

4. Physical Fitness

This one seems obvious, but a lot of kids today are not getting much exercise. Recess is shorter than ever, screen time is on the rise, and running free outside is nearly a thing of the past. As a result, an alarmingly large number of children in our country are now considered obese, and even those who aren't are often woefully inflexible and weak.

Martial arts is wonderful for physical fitness because a typical class is not focused on “exercising”. Instead, students focus on drills and forms that naturally strengthen their muscles, improve their flexibility, and increase their endurance. It takes mental focus to get through this training, and the challenge, group setting, and great instructors make it FUN. After class, your child will be exhausted but exhilarated, and he may never realize he has been “exercising”.

5. Respect & Humility

While respect and humility may seem like two separate topics, I know, as a martial artist, they are two sides of the same coin. From the very first day, all students are taught respect and humility at a martial arts school.

Respect comes in many forms; from bowing to the floor and your instructor, to treating fellow students how you would like to be treated. Children learn that respect must be a quality they carry with them in everyday life, as well. Through acts of responsibility in the home, to knowing martial arts is only to be used as a last, defensive resort, kids are encouraged to look for ways they can show respect in the outside world.

As they attain the ideal of respect, they are also developing humility. They are learning to be humble towards higher ranking students, authority figures, and even their own classmates. As a student advances in martial arts, he learns that humility is the best way to be open to learning as much as possible, and respect makes both those who receive it, and those who give it feel great.

Reid's Premier Martial Arts Marietta

At Reid’s Premier Martial Arts we would love to help you or your child reach your goals through martial arts. We offer professionally designed youth programs that emphasize life skill guidance in balance with martial arts training. For adults, our school specializes in Kung Fu, Tai Chi, or Krav Maga.  Please call us at 770-422-9250, or email marietta@reidpremiermartialarts.com for more information, and mention this article for a special offer.

LOCATION: 2727 Canton Rd., Ste. 500, Marietta, GA 30066

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