By Barry Van Over, President of Premier Martial Arts International
Reason #1: They (and You) Will Get More Active
This is the obvious reason kids should do martial arts in this day and age – to get active and moving. In case you haven’t noticed, we have an epidemic when it comes to our nation’s obesity problem. We’re also increasingly unfit in addition to being overweight. The problem is particularly alarming as it relates to our kids. Youth sports and physical education programs are great, but not every kid is an athlete, and many schools no longer offer PE. The martial arts offer many benefits, but when it comes to fitness, becoming a true martial artist means becoming a supremely fit person. When I was practicing boxing or Muay Thai kickboxing on a daily basis, I was in the best shape of my life by a long shot. Martial arts can help your child get fit and healthy.
Reason #2: They’ll Learn to Find Focus and Stillness
Of the many challenges that parents face today, one is that we are constantly “plugged in.” While there are many benefits to the Internet, there are many more benefits in stillness and silence. Unfortunately, stillness and silence seem to be rare. At some juncture in life, every one of us comes to learn that the greatest obstacle we face in this lifetime is ourselves. That battle is fought in the stillness of our hearts and the willingness to confront ourselves. As Bruce Lee pointed out, “Behind the punches, kicks, and knees, a true martial artist learns to sit with himself and see where his weaknesses are.” In years of martial arts classes, I remember many challenges, breakthroughs and setbacks. What I do not remember are distractions or gimmicks like one often sees at the local health club. At the martial arts studios and boxing gyms where I trained, there was no loud music, no flat screen TV, just hard work and sweat equity. As a martial artist, your child will learn what it is to be still, challenged and focused.
Every martial artist ultimately learns this sense of respect and true confidence. Your child will learn that confidence and respect for others comes from a deep sense of self-knowledge.
Reason #3: They’ll Gain Self Confidence and Self Respect
Setting goals to earn belt ranks or attending competitions will help a child gain a tremendous amount of confidence. Of course, playing with the big kids can also provide a little reminder of humility – someone is always bigger and stronger. The right martial arts school will teach your child that there are no tough guys. Every martial artist ultimately learns this sense of respect and true confidence. Your child will learn that confidence and respect for others come from a deep sense of self-knowledge.
Reason #4: They’ll Connect Their Mind and Body
What they don’t teach you at your local health club is how to really listen to your body. To listen to your body is to also see your thoughts and have heightened awareness of your emotional construct. A martial artist is taught to see, feel and listen – both internally and externally. Tapping into intuition, fear and courage are all examples of being able to put the physical reality together with the mental. How often have we heard the phrase “being paralyzed with fear?” Being able to combat such a thing is what you learn in the martial arts.
Reason #5: They’ll Learn Conflict Resolution
People often ask me whether I have ever used my martial arts and boxing training in a fight. Indeed, I have used the skill sets learned from martial arts many times to resolve conflict, but thankfully, never in a physical altercation (outside the ring, of course). One of the first lessons I was taught was words were never grounds for a fight. That advice right there has saved me many times. In the martial arts, you learn that there is no such thing as “fighting” words. Instead, you learn to respond without reacting in the martial arts.
These are just a few of the many ways martial arts helps adults and children whose parents who have seen the potential benefits form the martial arts. Martial arts and the life lessons they provide are truly gifts that keep on giving. Whether parents are thinking of enrolling their child or considering taking up training for themselves, an increase in quality of life in many aspects will ensue.
Barry Van Over is the owner and president of Premier Martial Arts International, of which there are currently over 80 location nationwide. Mr. Van Over has two locations in the WestKnoxville area and been empowering families lives through the martial arts in the Knoxville community for over 20 years. Mr. Van Over and his local studios can be reached at www.premiermartialarts.com.