The Karate Boost: Why Martial Arts is Good for Kids

Two women practice self-defense techniques.
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The Karate Boost: Why Martial Arts is Good for Kids

Young woman in red karate pants throws a high side kick at tournament

It’s summer. Kids are either bored out of their minds or bouncing off the rafters. There’s no in between. Except in karate.

When it comes to condensing and discharging energy, martial arts is like no other. You’ve heard about the benefits to the body: lots of push ups, sit ups and slow kicks build muscle and endurance that’s needed for wrestling, cross country, winning blue ribbons at track and field day. The dreaded drills of ye ol’ gym teacher are no problem after a summer of karate.

But the benefits for kids go so much further. Without further ado, here’s some of what you can expect in the weeks, months, and years after enrolling your kid into a black belt school.

Confidence: Self-Esteem as Self Defense 

Two young martial artists await entry into competition at Colorado Martial Arts Alliance tournament.

Two young martial artists await entry into competition at Colorado Martial Arts Alliance tournament.

It’s well known that bullies like to pick on easy prey. They target those who seem small, who seem weak–in spirit as much as stature. You may be the biggest kid in the play yard, but if you lack confidence in yourself you’re likely to be in a bullseye for a bully (or to become a bully yourself).

Ripple Effect instructors teach and encourage accomplishment. They can’t do your push ups for you. They can’t hold out your sidekicks. They can demonstrate techniques and forms and combos. You have to model the black belt example. Again, again and again. That’s how kids scale the mountain to black belt.

In the course of it kids calcify their confidence. It happens over the course of weeks and months of being in the school, practicing at home, and interacting with parents, siblings and friends. Confidence builds up a solid base, and by the time school starts it’s beautiful. Kids have confidence in reserves.

Focus: The Power to Hone In

Summer’s a blur for most kids (and it’s supposed to be). But then the school schedule kicks in, and they’re supposed to dial in the focus on a dime. Karate bridges the gap. It’s wild, it’s fun. But it requires focus.

Young woman holds fists up in defensive posture while warming up for martial arts competition.

A young woman prepares for forms competition in Colorado Martial Arts Alliance tournament.

Learn your combos, learn your forms. Earn your stripes. High five your teammates. Be aware of your position on the mat. The position of your lead foot in a back stance, the angle of your front hand in a sudo block.

Diagramming sentences or dialing in the multiplication tables becomes second nature after you’ve spent hours and hours training your mind and body in the ways of martial arts.

Social Skills: Gaining Respect among Peers

How does martial arts help with social skills? For one, you have to do things together on the floor, with the class. There’s pressure in performing in front of people. There’s pressure in performing with people, too. You might be good, focused when you’re on your own, they you lose focus (or courage, etc.) in a group.

In karate, you’re in a group all the time. Kids, even painfully shy ones, are, at first, simply compelled to adapt. After a little acclimation, they start to know the leaders in a class, and they begin to follow their example. After some years of training, kids become leaders themselves.

I’ve seen, personally, the unquestionable transformation of the way kids handle themselves around their peers, their parents, and their instructors. Kids at white belt that literally would not step out of the mat unless expertly coaxed by an instructor, now beating their parents through the door of the school, bowing in and snapping to attention. Leading other kids who they can see have the same inhibitions they used to have. Smiling, laughing, making new friends. It’s awesome.

Young woman demonstrates a taekwondo form while other competitors look on from the sidelines at a karate tournament.

Karate’s got an engendering effect that bears itself out in the immediate, not-too-distant, and far off future. Get your kids curious about it.

See you soon.

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