Raising a Karate Kid

Kids with lots of energy to expend are often the cause of many of Mom’s and Dad’s gray hairs. Where does all that energy come from? Finding a place to channel the enthusiasm, energy, and volume will be a good idea for both kids and parents. And a great place to do that is in a martial arts class.

With so many martial arts to choose from, how do you know you’re picking the right one for your child? The good news is, at this young age, you really can’t choose a “wrong” martial art unless you choose something that’s been diluted from its original and purest form. That means no MMA for your six year-old, get it? But the rest of the arts can all provide an energy outlet, discipline, social skills, strength and balance building, and a respect for self and others. You just can’t go wrong.

The best way to choose a martial art for your child is to do your own research. Talk to parents of kids who are in classes. Visit a facility and sit in on a class. Observe how students interact with instructors. Then stand all this up to your child’s personality and needs. If you have a little ninja-wanna-be, tai chi is probably not the best choice. For the energetic and perhaps undisciplined little guy who needs focus and structured activity, karate or tae kwon do are better options.

Karate is a favorite of younger kids because of its quick, sharp kicks and punches. The belt system allows them to test periodically (compete against themselves) to measure improvement and set goals. Because of the quick moves, its important for children to warm up adequately, which will carry over into any other fitness routine they choose to do later in life. Learning to stretch properly will benefit them not only in their new martial arts endeavor, but well into adulthood as well.

Tae kwon do is a self-defense martial art that focuses not only on the physical, but the mental as well. Meditation and mental focus are key components of tae kwon do. It teaches students that physical mastery is only a part of true artistry, and that a well-rounded student must train mentally as well. This is in line with tae kwon do’s roots as its first students were trained not only in self-defense, but in meditation, poetry, even philosophy. Modern students of tae kwon do report greater success in school and other endeavors because of the self-discipline the art imbues in the student.

There are other suitable options for young students (aikido, kung fu, judo) and your own research will help you determine which is best for your child. Karate and tae kwon do are just two that are very popular with children and are frequently taught in martial arts centers. Whichever you choose, be confident that you’re choosing an activity your child will benefit from for years to come.