Gaining physical strength and the ability to defend yourself are great reasons to begin a martial art and to stick with it, but the larger and farther-reaching benefit of committing to a martial art is the ability to gain and retain self-confidence. Early childhood is a great time to begin a martial art, but even adults can benefit from the discipline and commitment.
There is a direct correlation between physical ability and self-confidence in the martial arts. As your command over your routines and body become more refined, the mind makes the connection that the person as a whole is stronger, both physically and mentally. And with greater control over your body and your life, you begin to see yourself and your world differently, not as something to be feared, but as something you can define and control.
A good martial arts instructor will look not only at forms, but at the soul of the student. Where uncertainty and fear are present, the instructor will work at building confidence through mastery of the routine, and challenging the student to accept greater challenges. When the “aha” moment happens, both the instructor and student will realize that a new level of certainty has been achieved and the student is ready for more.
For children, learning self-confidence at an early age will equip them to take on life’s challenges with strength and discipline rather than retreating into fear, timidity, and powerlessness. As bullying seems to be on the rise, the confidence and strength taught in martial arts classes are an essential component in protecting your child through her school years. Adults who want to take control of their health and self-defense can find no greater teacher than the martial arts. Teaching an old dog new tricks can be difficult, but not impossible. Many parents find that if they pay attention in their kids’ martial arts classes, they can help the child practice at home, but they just might find they themselves have the capacity to learn an art and become stronger, more confident adults.