By Felisha M. Mina
Martial arts are a top pick for parents when it comes to choosing extracurricular activities for their kids. Starting at a young age can offer many positives, particularly when students apply their learnt behaviour to their schooling and personal environments. Although it primarily teaches self defence, there are multiple ways children can develop from such training. With regular attendance, parents can observe things like improved discipline, concentration and listening. Most importantly, classes are designed for the young ones to have fun and enjoy themselves—and that’s a win-win for the whole family! If you’re still tossing up about whether to enrol a child in the sport, keep reading to get a better idea of what it’s really about.
- Respect for others
One of the core fundamentals of martial arts is respect—to be mindful about the wellbeing of others and to show consideration for the instructor. Classes begin and conclude with handshakes to promote a sense of acknowledgement. As a supervised contact sport, students learn when it’s appropriate to apply physical strength and when to restrain it. Putting this etiquette into practice makes children aware of those around them, helping them to become selfless individuals.
Having the knowledge to properly defend oneself is a rare and valuable skill. Being formally trained in martial arts gives children the courage to stand up for themselves and deal with obstacles in a way that is neither threatening nor violent. This level of self esteem breeds a humble can-do attitude and morale—common qualities amongst leaders.
- A healthy lifestyle
Exercise plays a significant role in being healthy. As a full-body work out, martial arts is an enjoyable hobby that keeps children moving. Over time, students can expect to develop increased flexibility, fitness and coordination. Combined with a balanced diet of fresh foods, adopting martial arts as part of a healthy lifestyle will train children how to enjoy leisure activities that don’t involve television or electronic gadgets.
- Hard work
‘Promotions’ allow children to feel the rewards of having a strong work ethic. Gradings are conducted after terms or semesters, where coloured ranks or belts are given to those who are deserving of higher ranks. These awards are distributed based on traits like honour, sportsmanship, perseverance and self improvement. The idea of constant progression is instilled in the psyche of young practitioners and helps them realise the value of sticking to something and moving forward with it.
- How to stay focused
Learning techniques and drills requires students to pay close attention to their instructors. Self defence requires alert eyes and ears, and that means everyone stays attentive during class time. In an environment where it’s crucial to have good manners, kids are taught to ignore distraction and to keep still while coaches are demonstrating.
- Team work
While martial arts are primarily seen as individual sports, they also require students to work within groups, as well as with partners. This constant interaction encourages children to communicate and work together, building social skills. When participating in exercises, students are often found helping each other to complete assigned moves. In addition, everyone is seen as equal, which promotes cultural awareness and engagement.
Felisha Mina is the graphic designer and blogger behind Extreme Mixed Martial Arts. Over the past two years, she has dedicated her creativity and writing to the fitness industry, with her primary focus being MMA. Enthused by health, fitness and the arena of combat sports, she is also an avid photographer, contributing to some of Australia’s most prestigious fight promotions and events.
With three state-of-the-art locations, Extreme MMA provide the highest standard of coaching and training to locals in Victoria and Byron Bay. Catering to all ages and fitness levels, its clientele range from the everyday person wanting to keep fit, to the professional fighter with years of experience. Those interested in trying MMA for fitness, leisure or competition can find out more at www.extrememma.com.au or book a free trial class on 1300 TRY MMA.