It may feel like a lifetime ago where you had endless amounts of energy, no responsibilities, and grown-ups guiding you through how to excel at life. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to ‘excelling at life’, but what definitely gives children an advantage is discipline and the notion of a good work ethic.
If you are unsure of how to drive these life skills into your children, or even simply want to develop them further, enrolling them in martial arts classes is an ideal way for your children to become more disciplined in a fun, active, and encouraging environment.
Here are 5 ways martial arts will help your child become more disciplined.
1) They will learn and understand structure
All instructors have their own individual flair in the way they run classes, but the common element every instructor will have is structure. Classes, no matter whether it is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai, follow an overall structure such as warm ups/stretching, technique drills, free drills, and a warm down, for example. Though what children may be learning each time is different, they can expect the structure of the class to remain consistent. Consistency is important in children’s development, and also a practice they themselves can start to demonstrate outside of the gym.
Another way martial arts indirectly teaches structure is in the way progress is measured. In BJJ and Muay Thai, simple basics such as forward rolls and proper stance must be learned before complex combinations can be put together. Moreover, there is a belt and often ‘leveling’ ranking system that allows public recognition among peers for the student’s effort and progress. Martial arts ranking systems help to teach children structural hierarchy and that in persevering, they will reach their goals.
2) They will learn to respect others
Respect is a deep-rooted tradition in martial arts, and children will learn through their instructors how important it is to carry respect for others throughout their lives.
In any BJJ and Muay Thai class, children will see that bowing is very common and takes place at the beginning and end of class, in addition to bowing or touching gloves with their training partners at the beginning and end of each set of training. Bowing may seem endless, but it is there to remind children about respect and gratitude in martial arts. When children are mad or frustrated during a class, they must still behave respectfully towards their instructors and peers. A simple gesture such as a bow or touch of glove shows that a child embraces the concepts of sportsmanship and respect.
3) They will learn to find focus and stillness
Focus and stillness is an important factor to discipline. Without it, our brains will be constantly thinking about a hundred things at one time, leading to stress and procrastination. The increasing challenge with children nowadays (adults can be guilty of this too) is that they are constantly plugged in. If it isn’t the iPad or iPhone, it’s the PlayStation 4.
As a martial artist, your child will learn what it is to be still, challenged, and focused. There are no plasma TVs playing during classes, or cheerleaders practicing on the side. They will learn to battle through challenges by themselves because even though there is a YouTube tutorial for just about everything – to succeed in martial arts, you need to put in the hours practicing and drilling. The internet can’t help with that.
4) They will learn to get back up after failing
In martial arts, your child will learn what it is to fail, such as being unable to grasp a new technique initially. The key is how best to fall down and get back up from it – resilience and discipline. Of course, we don’t want our children to fall at all, but we cannot protect them all the time, and they will, at one point or another, fail. The best way to prepare for it is to learn what it is like.
If a child is unable to grasp a technique on their first couple of tries, they may get frustrated and want to give up. However, instructors will encourage children to stay calm and keep trying the technique until they do get it, often going through the motions step-by-step slowly so that it is not overwhelming. Similarly, if a child didn’t do well in a competition, they are taught that their first instinct should not be to quit but to reflect on their performance and where their weaknesses are, improve on them and participate in competition confidently again next time.
5) They will learn conflict resolution
One of the first lessons children will learn in martial arts is that the skills they learn are not for fighting outside of the gym. Although training does help build up reflexes, and athleticism, children should only use their self-defense skills if they are ever in a dangerous situation. Also, martial arts can be harnessed for nonviolent conflict resolution too.
In martial arts, a crucial lesson is breathing. Breathing properly when under physical exertion is a necessary skill to learn, and helps children relax even when under pressure which helps to facilitate effective thought and awareness. Further, children are taught to let go of their egos, show humility and listen. Even if a child progresses faster than their peers, there will always be someone bigger and stronger than them at the gym. In a conflict situation, the person antagonizing is usually looking for someone to acknowledge some fault. By listening and being able to calmly rationalize with the other person they will change how they see things. Martial arts will teach children an invaluable lesson to respond without reacting in conflict situations.
Martial arts training encompasses the saying of ‘practice makes perfect’. In a class, a student may execute a single movement, or series of related movements, hundreds of times. This teaches children that progress happens during small improvements in technique and stamina, flexibility or power – and will come through endless repetition. Martial arts promotes discipline; controlling movements, holding back force, continuing to train despite being tired, being able to show respect – all of these things require discipline. If you would like to see these positive changes in your child, sign them up for some martial arts classes today!