Raising kids the right way can sometimes be easier said than done. One of the hardest traits to instill in kids is the gift of self-discipline. It happens to also be one of the most valuable personality traits to possess. Martial arts can be a fun and very effective way to teach kids self-discipline according to professional martial artists and master instructors everywhere. 

Violence as a last resort/Mental before physical 

Contrary to what many may think, martial arts is not about having power or control over your opponent. It is not about making one submit to you through strength and skill. The “arts” in martial arts is all about learning how to defend oneself in a strategic and controlled manner so as to win both the physical and mental battle with the opponent. This requires loads of self-discipline, as the practitioner gradually develops the instinct to think before acting, using situational awareness and conscious consideration, as opposed to reactionary violence. A lot of calculated thought goes into each move. 

Dedication and Training

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect. It also goes without saying that one needs to have at least a semblance of self-discipline in order to consistently practice their craft. From beginners to masters, martial artists are always learning new techniques and going over the ones already learned to implant them into their muscle memory. The patience needed for the amount of training and practice required for martial arts improvement naturally leads to self-discipline. Through repetition, the brain is rewired to react calmly, but effectively, using the skills learned to take down the opponent in a necessary real-life situation or just in practice. 

Individualized learning

From day one of the classes, your child’s instructor will give them specific skills to sharpen and goals to meet based on their individual needs. Instead of instructing them to attempt to achieve the highest level of skill, a good instructor will make it a point to take it one step at a time. This means they will have to master each area and level of skill before moving on to the next. In order to achieve a higher rank and level of mastery, students must prove that they have honed the basic skills associated with their current rank. Sticking to a set routine and continually practicing it is the best way to move forward. This instills a sense of realistic discipline in the student and great patience, which will transfer over as success in everyday life as well. 


Practicing martial arts develops strong focus and perseverance. The more focus a student gains, the more they will have in all of their other passions and duties in life. In turn, the higher the self-esteem they will grow. This will encourage them to strive for further self-improvement in a healthy, proactive way. The confidence of knowing you are able to defend yourself without feeling the need for confrontation or violence breeds confidence. Another confidence-boosting factor for your child will be competition time. martial arts competitions force one to be confident in their ability and be able to perform under pressure. If this isn’t enough to bring out extreme confidence in any kid, the fact that they will be socially interacting with every other student in class and during tournaments is sure to nudge them out of their shell.

Respect as a core value

Instructors expect their students to respond to them using the phrase “yes sir” or “yes ma’am”, whether or not the student is tired, frustrated, or does not agree. Every traditional form, from Taekwondo to Karate, to Jiu-Jitsu, has a program for kids that is designed to promote positive behavior during training and off the mat. Self and mutual respect are emphasized for every student, instructor, and staff member. There are certain rules that are established in class which each student is expected to follow throughout their practice. This teaches respect for elders and people of all ages, earning respect from others, and the importance of attentive, active listening. Eventually, a student learns that one cannot have respect for themselves without first having respect for others. In addition, this enables kids to acquire self-restraint and emotional regulation tools, which helps them to develop calm and understanding in moments of disagreement or altercation. All of these things further are inherently tied to discipline. 

Whether you are considering martial arts for your child as a means to correct bad behavior or simply just because you think it’s a good idea for self-discipline, there are many different styles to choose from. For instance, Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that focuses on head height kicks, spinning, and jumping kicks, and fast kicking techniques, while Brazilian jiu-jitsu is more of a combat sport that specializes in ground fighting and grappling. Every kid is different in their own right as well, which is why it is best to look into the elements of each and ask them what they would like to learn.