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Should I Enroll my Child in the Martial Arts?

With the release of the new Karate Kid movie last week, many parents are wondering if they should enroll their child in a martial arts class. If you or your child has never attended a martial arts school before, it can be a scary decision that comes with many questions.

The biggest concern amongst most parents is whether or not their child will be safe when practicing with other students. That is a very valid concern, because many of the martial arts require some contact with other students when practicing self-defense techniques, throws, or sparring. However, most instructors request help from assistant instructors during kids classes to try to prevent accidents from occurring. In addition, most schools enforce a minimum age requirement for sparring and other techniques that require contact between students. The best advice I can give you would be to watch your child take at least one introductory class prior to joining any martial arts school. You will be able to tell very quickly whether your child is comfortable in the dojo by his or her body language when interacting with other students and the instructors. In most towns, there are multiple schools to choose from, so you will probably want to visit a few prior to joining any dojo.

The second biggest concern amongst most parents is the level of commitment martial arts classes will require of their child. As with any sport or activity, your child has a higher rate of success when they attend every lesson and spend time practicing outside of class. Based on your child’s athletic abilities, he or she may be able to succeed without practicing at home, but the average martial artist spends time everyday honing their skills. With this in mind, many parents worry their child’s education will come second to the martial art, and their kid’s grades will begin to slip. However, many dojos have a policy in place enforcing that students maintain a certain grade point average if they wish to participate in classes.

Overall, the advantages to placing your child in a martial arts class far outweigh the disadvantages. Most instructors place a heavy emphasis on respect for authority and discipline, which can be very valuable traits for your child to learn during their impressionable youth. In many schools, children are taught that negative actions like bad language, fighting, drug use, and vandalism are intolerable and will result in an expulsion from future classes.

With approximately 64% of Americans overweight, children can greatly benefit from keeping active in a healthy sport like Karate or Taekwondo. Most martial arts provide a high amount of exercise for their participants, and by teaching your children the joy of physical activity at a young age, they have a better chance of becoming healthy adults. As they improve and get in better shape, children tend to see a spike in self-esteem, which can make a huge difference in other aspects of their life.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of enrolling your child in martial arts is that he or she will learn a new set of skills that will help them protect themselves if attacked. While fighting is frowned upon in most dojos, self-defense techniques are a regular part of the regimen. Instructors try to prepare students to protect themselves in situations where they are bullied or in physical danger. As a parent, you may sleep better at night knowing your child is not defenseless in the event of a kidnapping attempt.

After reading this, if you are still reluctant to enroll your child in a martial arts school, you may want to consider taking a class with your child to relieve any fears you may have. I think you will very quickly realize that there is nothing to worry about.

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