Parents of young children often get worn out when trying to keep up with them. As they get older, we do our best to teach them how to behave. We try to involve them in activities to keep them occupied, as well as to socialize them. Children are full of energy and we have to find ways to channel that energy in a positive manner. This is even more advantageous when they learn a few things and have fun in the process. Martial arts are an activity that does both, and so much more.

This very popular far eastern discipline consists of different forms, and they’re all beneficial to a child’s growth. One of the most popular forms is tae kwon do, which is a form of karate. Lots of kicking and punching movements combined with breathing techniques. Most of us from older generations are familiar with karate and kung fu from Bruce Lee movies. These are both excellent forms of training with lots of hand movements and high kicks. Other forms include judo, jujitsu, aikido, and t’ai chi. They are all good for teaching children how to control their mind, movements, and body. Some great self-defense techniques can be learned as well.

While all forms of this far eastern discipline are excellent ways to develop fitness, there are so many other benefits to be derived from practicing these techniques on a regular basis. With that being said, we cannot downplay that aspect of the sport. It is very demanding and one of the best workouts for your child. The training uses just about every muscle in the body and burns a ton of calories. It also builds stamina and endurance, which can be used in so many other areas of a child’s life. Physical activity is known to release “feel good” chemicals from the brain. The rush of adrenaline increases energy levels for more productive and active children.

Self-discipline is one of the most important benefits from regular, consistent training. Self-discipline is required in so many areas of your child’s life. We can pretty much control most of their actions and movements when they’re toddlers. But things may be a bit different once they are out of our reach. Children need the self-discipline to behave and function appropriately around other people. It helps them in their daily interactions with classmates and teachers. They need the self-discipline to complete assignments or whatever needs to be done, without being prodded.

Emotional wellbeing is just as important as physical fitness. Children are inundated with so many negative occurrences in the world. Many places once considered safe havens are full of violence. The physicality of martial arts training releases endorphins, which then acts to improve mood and relieve stress. In addition, certain forms of this art promote emotional wellbeing by combatting aggression. Breathing exercises and meditation are performed during some routines, and they have a very calming effect. Many children have unresolved issues that result in bottled up feelings of anger. More and more children are being bullied or otherwise experiencing difficulties in their life.

Setting goals is another important lesson learned while training at the various levels. Your child starts from the bottom and works their way up. They are awarded every step of the way with belts and trophies. They learn that hard work pays off in the long run and that you have to apply yourself and practice every day to achieve your goals. It’s a huge boost to their self-confidence. They feel a sense of pride when they achieve their goals, especially the supreme black belt. These lessons carry over to other areas of a child’s life.

The ability to defend their person is a very important benefit of the exercises. Learning to be aware of your surroundings is another. Consider all the dangers that children face in the world today. It’s pretty frightening. Lessons in self-defense should be mandatory. There are so many threats to a child’s safety. Smaller children are very vulnerable in every way. Older children sometimes have to deal with bullies or fighting at school. The discipline also teaches the art of nonviolent conflict resolution, which is the real goal in any given situation where there’s a threat. It’s always a good thing to be able to defend oneself. A lifelong lesson.

Focus and concentration are becoming increasingly difficult in today’s social media-addicted world. Children are on the phone in the morning, throughout the day, and the last thing before lights out. There are so many distractions, and attention spans are decreasing by the second. Their little brains are being pulled in a million directions at the same time. Most are completely immersed in social media or the latest video game. A karate or Tae kwon do class will tear your child away from these distractions. Classes require regular participation and lots of practice. This will cut into wasted time and create a more productive child. Your couch potato will become more balanced, both physically and emotionally. The techniques used in the exercises are all about focus and concentration, which are crucial skills.

Engaging in the discipline can also become a sporting event and encourage socialization. Some children are painfully shy and don’t interact with others by choice. Participating in these activities on a regular basis can draw a child out of his or her shell and encourage more socialization. Your child may also get the opportunity to travel for competitions. Tournaments are usually held in different cities or states. Students can showcase their skills and compete for trophies and recognition. Another way your child’s self-esteem and confidence will be boosted.

Martial arts can be a fun learning experience for children. We all want the best for our children and sometimes they need a push in the right direction. There are so many different activities available and they may not always pick the right one. Even when they do, it may be for the wrong reasons. These classes are a long-term commitment where they will have to practice and work hard to progress. But the rewards are tremendous if they stick to it. It’s up to us as parents to guide them in the right direction, and encourage them when they try to take the easy way out.