Martial Arts for Children
Created by Anurima Updated on Jan 23, 2013
As her 5 year old leapt into the air screaming, in what looked like a karate kick, it instantly raised her blood pressure! Without panicking, my friend knew right away that it was time to channel her son’s energy by getting him to train in martial arts.
Childhood is one of the best times to train in any form of physical defence as a child’s bones are more malleable than an adult’s bones, thus reducing the chances of any serious injuries. Children are more likely to pick up complex skills as their brains are like sponges, soaking up any information put before them. The average starting age for both boys and girls is 4 years. At this age, training is more about fun and co ordination. The other aspects such as discipline and self-defence are gradually introduced at later stages.
Martial Arts is said to be as old as civilization itself. Over time the concept of primitive martial arts spread as civilizations grew and expanded and it became a way of self-defence. China was the home to martial arts and very soon it spread to the other Asian countries. Martial arts grew and evolved in the same form as concepts such as language, religion. It is now learnt and practiced the world over.
Styles of Martial Arts
There are numerous martial arts styles today. Most of them rely on the hand and foot combat technique. Let us take a look at a few styles in detail:
Judo or ‘gentle way’ was founded in Japan in 1882. It is the most widely practiced martial art in the world. It is a combat style and develops self-discipline in the learner. In judo, it is learnt that nobody can be perfect at everything, but through training, weaknesses can be overcome and limitations can be broken. As an exercise, it promotes flexibility, develops speed and co-ordination, promotes muscular development and benefits the cardiovascular system. The stages in judo training begin with a white belt then follow a yellow belt, a green belt, three degrees of brown belt and finally a black belt.
Kickboxing involves a variety of kicking techniques along with those of boxing. Kickboxing requires a great deal of balance, flexibility and provides a good cardiovascular workout. In children kickboxing provides physical and mental challenges. While in some schools, the approaches maybe more on fun and fitness rather than strict training, there are other schools providing training for age appropriate tournaments. This is considered as a dangerous sport and a protective gear is a must when training.
Tae kwon do:
Tae kwon do, like any other form of martial arts, is known for training the mind along with the body. It involves a series of punching and kicking techniques. Children are taught complicated techniques which help them to learn to coordinate their movements and improve concentration.
Indian Martial Arts: India is home to a variety of fighting styles. Some of them are closely connected to yoga, dance and performing arts. The following are a few fighting styles still prevalent in modern India:
It is a combat sport and finds its origin in the Punjab region. The main weapon used is a sword, often paired with a shield or another sword. These days Gatka is showcased mostly during Sikh festivals.
It is unarmed martial art that uses kicks, punches and elbow strikes. It originated in Varanasi and is rarely practiced today.
Thang-Ta is a weapon based fighting style that finds its roots in Manipur. A sword and a spear are the weapons used for this style.
It is an armed style of fighting, which originated in Maharashtra. It is still practiced in Kolhapur.
Pari Khanda: This is a type of sword and shield fight and is prevalent in Bihar but originally created by the Rajputs.
This is the oldest fighting style in existence in India and originated in Kerala. This style uses strikes, kicks, use of weapons and healing methods.
This is a sword based combat style of fighting from Andhra Pradesh.
This style uses weapons and was formerly practiced by the warriors in Orissa.
This is a weapon-based martial art from Tamil Nadu.
Wrestling is considered to be one of the oldest forms of martial arts. Numerous wrestling styles are still practiced in different parts of India.
Benefits of Martial Arts
- Self Discipline: Martial arts training teaches children discipline through emphasising on mental focus. This focus can be then applied to other aspects of life such as homework or even reading a book.
- Respect: Students are taught to respect their teachers, opponents and themselves. They learn to treat and respect others in a way they would expect to be treated.
- Benefits children with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Self-control and coordination are the two skills, which are underdeveloped in children with ADHD. Martial art teaches exactly those skills thereby greatly benefiting children with ADHD in the long run.
- Enhances self esteem: In most competitive sports a child needs to compete with a peer and if that does not go well, it could lead to diminished self worth. Martial arts, concentrates on encouraging and building on the inner strength of the Child.
- Fitness and coordination: Martial arts tones the body, improves flexibility thereby improving coordination. Learning the importance of being fit from a young age will help a child make healthy choices in the future.
Tips to consider before enrolling your child in a martial arts training:
- Choosing the type of martial arts: The choice for self defence classes is endlessUnderstanding the different styles in detail, keeping in mind your child’s skills and strength, will make it easier for the child to adapt to the techniques.
- Finding a good instructor: An instructor holding many credentials may not necessarily be a good teacher. A good instructor is one who takes the time out to answer your questions and addresses your concerns.
- Training costs: Enrolment in martial arts training is usually for a minimum duration. Finding out information on the courses offered by the different schools and comparing them will give a better picture of the costs involved as some schools may charge too much, which may not equate to a better training being offered than the schools with lower fees.
- Most Important : Going for a trial class: Attending a trail training class will give a better understanding of the technique and style of the art as well as of the instructor. Discussing the option with the instructor on letting your child join a trial class will give your child a clearer idea of what to expect and may make it easier for him/her to blend in from the outset.
Some parents may consider martial arts as promoting violence, but in reality, it teaches self defence, trains the mind by improving concentration and reasoning skills, which is directly related to academic success. Self-defence activities are a fun ways for children to achieve fitness and the other numerous benefits that these activities provide.
Any child will love to be able to kick and punch like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or the new hot favourite Kung Fu Panda!
| Feb 21, 2013
it is very useful
| Feb 02, 2013
These blogs are becoming like a reference place where one can come anytime and dig out information,. the tone is warm and not preachy.. thanks!
| Jan 29, 2013
Neetu, I too wasn't aware of the various styles of martial arts beside the ones you mentioned. When one talks on martial arts, we think of Judo, Karate, Tae kwon do.. But there are various styles in India itself, which are, unfortunately, being forgotten.
| Jan 28, 2013
Anurima, love the way the blog begins, driving home the point that martial arts can be a great way to channelize energies in young children. Did not know though that there are so many options available apart from judo karate and taek wondo,,thanks for the information.