Black Belt Motivation: Get Your Kids off the Couch with Karate

As a parent, you’re probably already planning for the summer. Getting kids into summer camps can be challenging (kind of like putting in a winning bid on Ebay or nabbing Adele concert tickets). Lots of competition to enroll, and lots of kids getting shut out.

Also, your kids might not be inclined to go to summer camp. Or even get outside. The prospect of doing something new might be appealing to kids, but it can be overwhelming to do something too new, to be around strangers for hours at a time, all morning or afternoon or day. It’s intimidating. Kids say no way!

The couch wins, and kids spend their hours indoors, in front of a phone or tablet or TV.

That’s the beauty of karate or martial arts in general. Harvard researchers wrote an article about how to motivate kids to try new activities, and a few of their conclusions line up with the karate philosophy.

  1. Punches and kicks and combinations may be new, but they’re not too new. Kids have watched the Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Karate Kid. Learning to engage your body in the martial arts is exciting and fun. It’s something your heroes do.
  2. Martial arts isn’t exclusive in terms of time or capacity. There are generally no waiting lists or exclusive time slots (like for summer camps). Karate classes at any given belt rank are offered multiple times throughout the week. Kids and families have opportunities to suit their schedules.
  3. Parents can train right alongside their kids. This can help “maintain a close connection with adolescents,” as the Harvard authors point out.
  4. Karate provides a natural inclination to pursue better health, a stronger mind, and greater confidence. This is a big one when it comes to motivation. Black belt training provides few tangible rewards (e.g., a tournament trophy). The rewards come in the form of personal and social motivation, of achieving a new goal, of learning you can do more than you ever thought you could.

These are a few reasons why enrolling in a martial arts program and pursuing that training to black belt gets—and keeps—kids and families motivated.

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