Are you thinking about enrolling your child into a martial arts class?
I think it’s a very good idea.
Confident kids are less likely to become bullies and less likely to be bullied.
True confidence comes from accepting oneself as a unique and special being, just like everybody else.
The most confident people always respect others and are among the most respected by others.
Don’t we want this for our children?
I know I want my daughter to be confident, strong, able to stand up for herself and others
and to be able to fight for her safety if necessary.
I have been teaching self-defense and martial arts for the past 30 years and have been introduced
to many martial arts and different teachers along the way.
I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed a quiet, shy child transform into
an assertive, strong one through the practice of a martial art. It is truly a beautiful thing.
Here are 14 ways that martial arts builds confidence in children:
Most martial arts schools have confidence builders built right into their classes:
1. A Supportive Group Environment.
This allows each child to feel accepted by her peers in the context of having a shared experience.
Furthermore, the underlying principle of respecting others within the martial arts school,
lays a wonderful framework to learn to fit in, despite differences.
2. A Ranking System
Belts gives children a sense of accomplishment. Consequently, they learn to set goals and work hard to reach them.
Ranking systems also help children build a realistic understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses,
which is essential for building confidence.
3. Physical Fitness
Exercise is essential to a child’s ownership and pride in her body.
When she feels her own physical strength,
she is more likely to stand confidently and even
speak up for herself more easily.
Children learn how to stay calm when placed in an unfamiliar situation.
Also, sparring gives them the opportunity to see how they respond internally and
externally when“strikes” are being thrown or when they attempt to throw “strikes” at others.
5. Forms (choreographed sequences of movements specific to each style)
Forms help to integrate the mind, body and spirit
and this knowledge and experience inspires a sense of wholeness and personal power.
6. Guiding Principles
Principles such as honesty, integrity, respect, humility
and indomitable spirit build positive character traits in our children.
7. Striking to Pads
Striking to pads gives children the chance to hit with all their might.
In addition, this is where they learn how strong they really can be
and how to control their power.
8. A Fun Learning Experience
Children just wanna have fun. Don’t we all?
When children are happy, they learn more easily
and the power of their personalities gets to shine.
9. Practical Self-Defense Skills
Self-defense skills should be a part of the curriculum.
Children learning to defend themselves against grabs
or unwanted touch is essential to the well-being of children
in our culture. They need to be taught that it is their right
to be free from physical harm.
10. Verbal Self-Defense Skills
Verbal skills are essential to everyday interactions.
Role-playing different relevant scenarios is the best way to get the children involved in solving problems they are facing at school or with friends.
These skills include setting limits and talking about feelings that might arise.
11. Role Models
Teachers and assistants in the martial arts school should be
loving, kind and respectful to each and every student.
12. Leadership Opportunities
Some schools allow students to help instruct other students.
I always love seeing the older students helping the younger ones.
Giving children the chance to share their knowledge with others,
only proves to increase their confidence in their own skill
and it always feels good to help others.
13. A Time for Sharing
In order for children to feel confident in themselves,
it is important for them to have the space to express themselves
and to be being listened to.
Meditation helps foster self-awareness kindness to oneself and others.
In conclusion, I believe that martial arts training for children
is an outstanding way to build confidence as they navigate through
the ups and downs of childhood. There are so many valuable life lessons
to teach through the martial arts.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the martial arts to bring into a child’s life,
is the focus on connecting the mind with the heart, voice and spirit.
To the happiness and safety of you and yours,