Martial Arts for Children
Training in martial arts can be beneficial for children in a number of ways. Not only do kids develop strength and agility but most notice an increase in confidence and self-discipline, as well. "Martial arts" is a broad term, encompassing a variety of fighting and self-defense practices from Asia and while the variations differ greatly, all offer healthful benefits when learned and practiced mindfully.
Roots of Martial ArtsMartial arts practices and disciplines originate from China, Japan, and Korea, with distinct variations for each style. Understanding the basic concepts of each can help parents and kids decide on the most appropriate style based on each child's individual strengths and goals. In general, martial arts training is designed to help participants gain self-discipline, self-control, and self-confidence and while the martial arts are "fighting" sports, training aims to help kids avoid conflict rather than purposefully engaging in aggressive behaviour. Although popular media may make it seem as though martial arts encourages destructive actions, true representations of martial arts are decidedly non-violent.
Martial Arts StylesWhile there are many more categories of martial arts, those often considered best for children include Tae kwon do (from Korea), Kung fu (from China) and Karate, Jujitsu, Judo, and Aikido, all originating in Japan. While detailed information about each type can be best learned from experienced masters, a brief introduction of the above styles includes:
Tae Kwon Do: Meaning "the way of the foot and fist," tae kwon do is considered the most competitive of the martial arts, with impressive displays of high kicks and fancy footwork. Tae kwon do is the national sport of Korea and is the most popular of the martial arts worldwide.
Kung fu: Meaning "well done," kung fu actually encompasses many Chinese fighting arts, focusing a great deal on kicks, sharp blows, chops, throws, and leg sweeps.
Karate: Meaning "empty hand," karate uses both aggressive and defensive moves, but stresses defensive tactics. Karate utilises throwing, punching and blocking, and weaponry can come into play.
Jujitsu: Meaning "compliant art," jujitsu involved considerable sparring and use of weapons.
Judo: Meaning "gentle way," judo is often considered a more moderate version of jujitsu, utilising many wrestling type moves. Training focuses a great deal on mental and moral development, and with it's very safe reputation, judo lessons are often quite popular for children.
Aikido: Meaning "way of harmony," aikido strives to teach the ability to fend off attacks by turning the tables on an aggressor. Aikido is non-competitive and can be rather spiritual in nature.