Black Belt Discipline: How Martial Arts Develops Good Habits in Kids

How often do you tell your kids to listen, to focus, to be still, to stand up straight, to hustle it up? (Be honest.) It’s kinda constant.

Whether we’re kids or coaches, we all want to satisfy our impulses. Immediately. Nose itches? Scratch it! Toy on the shelf (or cool shirt on Amazon)? Buy it! Tasty pizza slice or birthday cake or bag of chips? Scarf it!

The difference is that grown-ups (ideally) have learned to control those impulses. We learn to hold still. To think before we act, and to act in unselfish ways.

Martial arts training helps develop this self-discipline. It also helps kids appreciate discipline itself, rather than shrug it off. How?

For one, instructors (and parents) set the example. When instructors call the class to attention, they snap to attention too. Their push ups are deep. Their side kicks snap. Instructors are vocal, respectful, confident. They’re also self-restrained. They demonstrate self-discipline all day long.

Taekwondo legend Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee valued self-discipline above all else. Why? Because being able to focus, listen, and hold still is the foundation of being able to learn. To grow. Here are some of Rhee’s insights on self-discipline and how martial arts develops it in young people.

Listen especially to his emphasis on standing at attention. It’s one of the simplest disciplines across the martial arts. It’s the very first thing you learn. And it’s amazing how much the technique of standing still develops as you progress toward Black Belt.

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