Why Every child should be in a Martial Art
What difference would martial arts make in your child’s life? Well let me tell you my story and the difference that it made for me…
When I was young I was really clumsy. I had no coordination and the other kids would make fun of me at school. I was the kid that was afraid of the ball that was flying at me because all I could think about was it hitting the end of my finger and breaking it.
I was a slow runner too. I remember always being the last kid to cross the finish line or being tackled by kids as I ran with the football. Not that I caught the football often but occasionally the teacher would throw it to me if I was close enough to catch it. Although I was pretty tall, I couldn’t dribble a basketball without some other kid running by and taking it with ease.
So I was not athletically inclined at all. I was the worst player and I felt a sense of pride when I would be standing there in the last two people to be picked for a team and after what seemed like an eternity of himming and haing, the team captain would pick me for their team and I was only the second to last to be chosen. Most of the time however that wasn’t the case….I was almost always chosen last for the team, no matter what sport we were playing.
Then I started to do martial arts. This was something that didn’t come naturally to me but I loved to do it. I did it day and night. I was practicing all of the time. Then after a short time something cool started to happen. I started to get good at it. My confidence began to grow. The other kids stopped making fun of me and my coordination got better.
I started to be the champion of the underdog, too. I knew what it was like to be the low end of the skill spectrum so I made sure that when other kids were being picked on that I would work with them to get them better rather than just make fun of them like the other kids.
It took quite some time before I ever picked up a ball again but once I did I found out something amazing had happened. I was able to catch, throw and run better than many of the other kids too. I still wasn’t a huge fan of sports but I was getting pretty good at them.
One particular thing that I got good at was soccer. By this time I was in high school and there were a couple of foreign exchange students that came to my school. They were really good soccer players because that was the thing they grew up doing. It turns out that I was the only one of my friends who could copy the foreign exchange student’s moves and so I picked up on that skill very quickly. I was beating them the first day we were playing!
The martial arts had done a couple of things for me. First, it got me moving. I was exercising a lot back then. Second, it helped my confidence grow. Third, it helped my coordination. There were a lot of other benefits too like improved focus, flexibility, strength and the ability to stay relaxed and calm in the most stressful of situations.
Later on the martial arts actually saved my life. I was attacked by a man who was much larger than I was and I found myself in a situation that I didn’t want to be in. Without getting into all of the details I was able to get out of the situation but not without fighting. I did try to walk away but there are some situations that you just can’t get away form, especially when there are three other people involved who don’t like you for no other reason than you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Another thing that practicing martial arts will do for children is it will teaches them respect not just for people in an authority position but for their peers as well. I remember the first time that I realized that I could really fight and that I could really hurt someone. In that moment I realized that I needed to avoid fighting at all costs because I didn’t want to be responsible for injuring or even killing someone with the knowledge that I had.
That though caused me to look for other peaceful ways to resolve conflicts, especially with my brothers and sisters. I couldn’t imagine hurting them with what I had learned so the martial arts taught me to talk things out with my siblings.
My siblings were free to be themselves because of my skills too. My brother Mat (yes it is spelled with one “T”) is someone who tends to attract people who pick on him and beat him up. When he came into high school it was no different except that I was there and people knew me and that I did martial arts.
There were many kids who would start to pick on my brother but then they would find out that he was my brother and then leave him alone. He’s a good guy and doesn’t go out of his way to pick fights but they seem to follow him around.
To me these benefits from doing the martial arts are great reasons to have every child participate. If nothing else, confidence and physical prowess will make a huge difference for your kids.
Ben Newcomb is a martial arts blogger and his other writings can be found at: