Getting active with Martial Arts

Benefits of Karate: First Choice Martial Arts

Despite warnings in the media that our children have become "couch potatoes," millions of children participate in recreational or competitive sports. Active people of all ages benefit from regular exercise, looking better and feeling more fit and confident. Karate training can give children unique and wonderful health benefits as they grow, forming the basis of a lifetime of enjoyment and healthy habits.

Karate training can begin as soon as children are able to show interest, pay attention, follow directions, and imitate sequences of movements. School age is a good time to start, though sometimes the younger children copy their older brothers and sisters and can start as young as 3 years.

The pace of training is individualized, so issues of size and talent are much less important than they are in the common team sports. Big or little, boy or girl, beginner or advanced, quick learner or slow, all children will make progress with regular training. So all will be able to achieve personal satisfaction, increased social acceptance, and better health.

Because it's an indoor sport, training can take place all year in all seasons, with steadier, more consistent results. There's no loss of skill between seasons, and there aren't the early season injuries as the body readjusts. And there isn't the exposure to heat stress as there is with outdoor sports, or the exposure to outdoor allergens. This is particularly important for children, who are more prone to allergies and heat stress than adults.

Karate training builds cardiovascular fitness, and strength and flexibility like most sports. But it also particularly builds perfect body awareness and control, precision in movement, and speed and strength. At the same time, it builds inner well being and self-esteem. As a traditional art, the focus is on respect for oneself, one's peers, and one's teachers, discipline, and rigorous self-examination and improvement. More than any other sport for children, karate and its inherent values counteract the "win at all costs" mentality so common in sports today. These values along with the individual pacing can make karate particularly helpful for children who struggle with attention and behavior. Doctors have actually prescribed it for children with ADHD. Coaches and teachers can play a crucial role in a child's life; the character of the disciplined and respectful karate sensei fulfills this role in the most positive possible way. It can be quite a treat to see an otherwise rowdy or sassy kid wait their turn, bow to the teacher and class before and after performing, and help teach a younger child!

All in all, karate training provides an opportunity for safe, enjoyable sports participation, with unique benefits for the body and mind. To see if karate training would be beneficial for your child contact a martial arts school to take a trial lesson. If it seems like a good fit, plan to have your child attend regularly, stay in contact with the sensei about your child's progress, and support your child's efforts. You might find yourself staying for class and training as a family!