Over the last two decades, martial art training for kids has gained unprecedented popularity around the world. What makes martial arts so popular? Hundreds of thousands of parents have found that there are many benefits to training that kids don’t often gain from other sports or activities.
One of the greatest benefits gained from martial art training is improved grades in school. But how, exactly, does martial art training help kids improve their grades? There are five key areas directly related to a child’s progress in school that are all addressed through martial art training:
- Self-Discipline – Simply beginning martial art training will add structure to a child’s life. While martial art training is fun, it’s also formal and regimented. Through consistency and class structure, kids begin to develop the habits of creating and developing routines; routines that can help them to get homework done, be prepared for tests, and even avoid distractions. As a child becomes more skilled in martial arts, he learns to have control over his body and mind. Standing in an attention stance without moving, controlling a kick or punch so as not to hurt a practice partner, and focusing all of your power into a single technique to break a board are all techniques that help develop self-discipline and self-control.
- Focus, Concentration, and Memory – As self-discipline improves, so do focus and concentration. By practicing having the discipline to control one’s mind, a child can focus more intently and easily tune out anything that might deter him from learning or completing a task. Proper posture and eye contact instilled through martial arts training ensure a student can stay focused for greater duration. Additionally, martial art training challenges a student to memorize forms and patterns. It’s not uncommon for a student to struggle to memorize a five-movement pattern as a white belt. Within a year or so, as a higher-ranking belt, these same students are able to memorize forms with 50 moves or more with only a few hours of instruction.
- Self-Confidence – Kids who lack confidence are more likely to give up easily. When a child continues to struggle with schoolwork, he begins to doubt his abilities to learn or to be successful in life. Because of the personal attention given to students by their instructor and the unique reward systems used in martial arts, increased confidence is often one of the first changes parents see in their children. A beginner will practice demonstrating confidence in his voice, and in his body language. Once a child starts to succeed in his martial art training, he learns he can accomplish whatever he sets his mind to. Specialized leadership curriculum further develops a child’s self-confidence to the point where he feels no need to follow the crowd or to say or do things to win the approval of his peers.
- Perseverance – With improved confidence comes the ability for a child to persevere and finish what he starts. Kids who have the habit of quitting things have likely seen little success in the sports and activities they have tried. After all, if a child felt like he was the best player on a sports team, would he want to quit in the first place? Furthermore, parents have allowed this child to quit things in the past and he has developed the habits of being a quitter and will continue to give up every time he is confronted with a challenge or his progress starts to slow. Professionally run martial art programs are goal-oriented and require some level of commitment, based off of the goals parents set for their children. A serious martial arts instructor will not allow you to quit until you have accomplished the goals you have set out to achieve.
- Exercise – There have been countless studies done and articles written about the effectiveness daily exercise has on kids staying focused and getting good grades. An article from 2012 published by CBS news cited Dr. David Geier, director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston: “There is a focus on test scores and academic accomplishments, and there’s a belief that schools need to cram all available time into academics…The other problem is that it becomes a funding issue for many schools.” In a generation raised with an overabundance of video games, online social media, and on-demand entertainment, it becomes increasingly important for parents to seek out ways to keep their children active and healthy. Martial art training is a great way to build strength, stamina, flexibility, and improve coordination.
At Summit Martial Arts, your child’s progress in school is incredibly important to us. Our instructors are mentors whose ambition it is to motivate your child to get good grades, make smart decisions, and become motivated, healthy adults. Our specialized leadership training will help your child develop the confidence to accomplish any goal and overcome any challenge.
About the author: Rick Hill is a 5th Degree Black Belt, certified ATA instructor since 2001, and owner at Summit Martial Arts.