The school year is upon us. Some of you may be wondering, “How did it happen so quickly?” while others may be asking, “Why did it take so long?” Regardless, the time has come. If you’re like a lot of people, your routines have been disrupted for months. The thought of getting back into a routine, any routine, may be more than you can think about right now. And the idea of getting your kids back into a school learning routine might just be more than you can handle.
So why would you consider enrolling your child in martial arts when everything else seems so hard with so many other things to get done?
Read on to learn how martial arts classes can actually make your life, and your kids’ lives, easier!
Exercise has many benefits for your child, and you, that are especially important during the current pandemic environment. Benefits include better mood and feeling happier but exercise also improves your ability to learn and remember what you just learned. Children have an abundance of natural energy that can be difficult to channel during a normal school day, and this may be made worse with the current virtual school now required. Releasing that extra energy helps children sit and focus their attention on the task at hand. Exercise improves muscle and bone strength and can help balance the unwanted weight gain due to limitations of the usual activity options. Another plus of exercise is improved sleep. Exercise can help balance the increased amount of blue light exposure we are all getting from increased screen time. Regular exercise can help improve the immune system by improving overall physical health as well as emotional health.
The fast pace of modern living has decreased the average attention span of children and adults. Lack of focus may be more obvious when a child is attempting to learn outside the usual school environment. This is similar to an adult transitioning from working in an off-site office setting to a home office setting. Improving your child’s focus helps them learn better. Students learning martial arts learn to concentrate and focus on the details of individual moves. They learn sequencing as moves are combined together to form combinations and forms. The sequential learning allows students to improve their memorization skills. They learn effective ways to learn as teaching is progressive. Training in class includes visual and verbal instruction as students physically and verbally perform the curriculum.
Today’s learning environment is so different from what most children are used to and this makes it a challenge for them to stay on track. Martial arts provides consistency for students both on and off the mats. Students learn to set short and long term goals within a positive, supportive environment. They focus on the next skill set and the next belt level. While some students may just focus on the next class, all efforts are directed towards the goal of obtaining their black belt. Discipline and perseverance are learned over the course of the 3-4 years required to complete the training for black belt. During this time, students learn from what they might perceive as a failure by listening to constructive feedback and applying the feedback to their next performance. Their self-control improves which can lead to improved confidence. Students stretch their capacity for delayed gratification, first making the commitment to becoming a black belt, and then as they work toward the smaller steps for each level of achievement.
Let’s face it - social distancing makes it tougher to be social. Humans thrive on interpersonal interactions and virtual learning can make this especially difficult to do. Children are naturally social and learn from their peers. Learning positive skills within a positive setting can be key to raising happy, well-adjusted children. Martial arts teaches students patience as they wait their turn to compete or perform. They learn collaboration as they work together in teams. Students also learn how to resolve conflicts respectfully with humility and self-control instead of aggression. They make friends with other students from all walks of life, which contributes to their sense of connection and support. Children become more confident in themselves. This shows as increased confidence and relaxation in social situations. All students learn leadership skills and have increasing responsibility as they advance in rank. These skills are reflected in other areas of their lives because students are more confident in themselves and their abilities.
Children love routine and predictability. The dramatic changes in the world over the last 6 months have heightened anxiety and stress levels in everyone, and this increase is sadly reflected in higher suicide numbers overall. Martial arts classes have a structure and routine that is easily learned by all students. This routine provides the predictability that may be missing from other areas of the students’ lives. Students learn to be present in the moment of the class. Being present allows them to put other concerns aside and just be themselves. Physical activity is a proven outlet for anxiety, stress, and pent up emotions and energy. Martial arts is a great activity option as it teaches students to channel that energy in a positive direction. Coping with stress and anxiety in an effective fashion teaches resiliency. And with resiliency comes confidence because the student knows they can handle anything that comes their way.
Now, more than ever, setting our kids up for success in school and in life is imperative. Ko Martial Arts is committed to improving our community and our world one student at a time. We do this by using an individualized approach to teaching every student. We offer both group and private classes which teach a standard curriculum. We have seen remarkable transformations as students progress along the journey to black belt. Excellence becomes a habit students proudly wear in the form of their belt.
As you finalize preparations for the coming semester, consider helping your child begin a new habit. Have your child choose 1 habit to practice every day for 21 days. Ideas for habits include: making their bed every morning, getting dressed before they come to breakfast, setting out the next days’ clothes before they go to bed at night, reading daily, exercising daily, or even keeping a gratitude journal to help them see the brighter side of life.
After five years of crying and complaining, my eight year old daughter is officially a junior black belt.
January. For most people, it marks a fresh start. New opportunities. New possibilities. It is a chance to reset and move forward.