While our culture is finally prioritizing the importance of mental health, ensuring our children have the tools they need to become mentally fit can feel like an uphill battle. Today, many kids are battling lowered self-confidence, increased anxiety, and depression without building the skills to combat it.
Martial arts has a long history of teaching respect, goal setting, courage, and resiliency through consistent physical and mental training, which leads to healthier, more mentally fit individuals.
Here are a few of the mental health benefits of martial arts.
The belt system of martial arts affirms students' hard work. As students master new skills, they are rewarded with belts. The continual cycle of setting and achieving goals increases students' self-worth and helps them feel proud of their work. Enforcing the idea: they can believe in themselves.
The physical exertion of martial arts is enough to alleviate pent-up energy, which has been shown to help lessen anxiety symptoms. While unconventional, some medical professionals may suggest combining therapy with martial arts to treat different forms of anxiety, especially in males, who are less likely to seek help or intervention for these disorders.* Practices such as mindfulness and deep breathing incorporated into martial arts provide students with coping mechanisms they can use outside the studio to manage stress.
When students train their bodies under stress, they learn to have a more stable baseline of emotions. Thinking clearly under pressure develops self-control and provides an opportunity to practice restraint. By learning how to feel emotion without always having an emotional reaction, students master emotional regulation, an invaluable life skill. Our instructors model emotional regulation and use positive reinforcement to instruct and correct students; they demonstrate how to control their own emotions instead of acting on impulse.
At the studio, you are responsible for establishing your own boundaries. Our instructors provide a safe environment to stretch the limits you have put on yourself mentally and physically; however, you are always allowed to decide for yourself if you should draw the line or step back if you feel uncomfortable. Students gain awareness for what their bodies and minds are capable of and where their boundaries lie.
Optimism is built into the foundation of our teaching by never using shame or intimidation to correct a student. Our instructors initiate positive self-talk by focusing on what a student has done right in order to have something to build upon and reach an overall goal. Creating a habit of positivity expands beyond martial arts and into the other areas of students' lives, providing better problem-solving skills.
Martial arts helps provide a framework and foundation for establishing healthy habits that grow our children into the best versions of themselves.
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Vincent Galate shares his childhood experience of growing up at KOMA.
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