We Play Sports, We Study Taekwondo . . .
I have always said that Taekwondo has the ability to change lives. Whether your kid is too bossy, too shy, or perhaps just a little hyper, the martial arts can help your child learn many important life lessons. Many martial artist study their art to enhance another sport they play, or to simply to enhance their lives in general. However, at soccer, you play a sport . . . at taekwondo, you study an art. The benefits of the martial arts are far beyond what a sport can offer. Below are some of the reasons I believe that every child will benefit from martial arts . . .
They (and You) Will Get More Active.
Youth sports and physical education programs are great, but not every kid is an athlete and many schools no longer offer P.E. The martial arts offer many benefits, but when it comes to fitness, becoming a true martial artist means becoming a supremely fit person. Martial arts can help your child get fit and healthy.
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 a great many benefits to the Internet, there are many more benefits in stillness and silence. Unfortunately stillness and silence seem to be rare to find. 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 a martial artist, your child will learn what it is to be still, challenged, and focused.
They’ll Learn to Take Hits.
In the martial arts, your child will learn what it is to take a hit, whether that hit is a literal blow or a disappointment like failing a test. Part of life is learning that we all take hits. The key is in learning how best to take that hit and get back up. Unfortunately, this lesson seems to be lost on many in our every-kid-gets-a-trophy culture. In the martial arts, your kid will learn to fail – a lot. Half of martial arts is hitting, but half is also getting hit.
They’ll Gain Self Confidence and Self Respect.
Martial arts teaches 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 comes from a deep sense of self-knowledge.
They’ll Connect Their Mind and Body.
A martial artist is taught to see, feel, and listen – both internally and externally. Tapping into intuition, fear, and courage are examples of being able to put the physical 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.
They’ll Learn Conflict Resolution.
One of the first lessons Eternal Grand Master taught us in SongAhm Taekwondo was that 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.
They’ll Learn to Breathe.
Of the many things I have learned in the martial arts and boxing, breathing is near the top. Eternal Grand Master told me that he could tell how someone competes just by observing how he or she breathes. Indeed, nothing is more essential to the success of how we move our body than tapping into the life force of our essence – our breath. Ask a professional athlete, or an actor, dancer, or signer, and they will tell you that to succeed in any physical craft is to access your breath correctly.
How to Choose Where to Study . . .
After 40 years of training and teaching, the bottom line is that almost any child can and will benefit from participation in the martial arts. The key in choosing a teacher or school is to do your due diligence when it comes to evaluating the integrity of the program. As a starting place, I would choose a prospective instructor or coach who talks more about the needs of your child than his or her program.