With a bloodcurdling cry, your 6-year-old leaps into the air in a karate kick, raising your hair and blood pressure simultaneously. Before you panic and pad the walls, try channeling this urge into a martial arts class.
Activities like tae kwon do, kung fu and aikido are a fun way for both boys and girls to achieve fitness and focus. Some parents may think they also promote violence, but that's a myth, according to experts. The martial arts actually help teach self-discipline and socialization skills. In fact, many parents whose children have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) report great success with these programs because self-control and concentration are exactly the skills underdeveloped in ADHD kids.
A typical hour-long class begins and ends with a bow to the teacher, or master. After a warm-up, students practice the art's particular skills, which may include kicks, punches and blocks. Each requires concentration and strict attention.
Progress is often marked by the belt system, which takes the beginner from a white belt through a variety of colors until black. Testing for each new level, generally every three months, is a good exercise in setting and achieving goals.
But, say experts, it's the respect kids learn, whether from bowing or standing still and waiting for the next command, that can be the most important benefit: It often carries over into school, helping to improve behavior and even grades, according to recent research.
"Six is usually a good age to start classes," says Mimi Johnson, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness. By that time a child should have enough muscle control to punch and turn properly and safely—essential to getting a real kick out of the martial art he chooses.
Class optionsThe American T'ai Chi Associates recommends looking for a school that adheres to the original principles of the martial art it offers, rather than one that dilutes them by, say, pairing jujitsu with kickboxing: The purer the teaching, the more your child stands to gain. Here's a quick guide to help you choose the right class for your child
Karate (Japanese)A system of self-development using kicks and punches. Its quick, sharp actions involve snapping movements of the joints, which means that kids need to warm up carefully.
Tae Kwon Do (Korean)A form of karate developed as a military art, which has become one of the more popular martial arts in the U.S. It uses kicking and punching movements to energize the body, and breathing and meditation techniques to provide focus.
Judo (Japanese)Taught as a competitive sport, judo teaches kids how to throw a partner using balance and leverage and helps them learn self-control and respect for their opponent.
Jujitsu (Japanese)A competitive form of self-defense that teaches students to use their opponent's weight and strength against him. Having a partner fosters cooperation.
Aikido (Japanese)Uses many of the same movements as jujitsu but is gentler and noncompetitive. It, too, is an excellent discipline for teaching children how to work with a partner.
Kung Fu (Chinese)A rigorous and physical form of karate that involves more fluid movements than its Japanese cousin, making it easier on joints. It's fast-paced, so kids get an aerobic workout.
T'ai Chi (Chinese)Focuses on balance, stretching and weight-bearing moves. T'ai Chi is easy on the joints, boosts flexibility and improves concentration skills
Many young Americans grow up with martial arts as one of their first competitive sports/activities. Not only is it a great activity that keeps participants physically active, but it instills a sense of achievement and ethics, as you work your way up to earning a black belt. But even if you have no previous experience in martial arts, it is still a great activity to pick up even as an adult. And here are the reason why, as we present the top 10 health benefits of martial arts:
(While we focus on the benefits of martial arts for kids a lot at our academy (they’re obviously a big part of what we do), you’d be amazed at how many adults have seen the benefits their kids are getting from our program and said, “What about me? I want to try martial arts”. So here is a list of the top six benefits of martial arts for adults!
Benefit 1.) More Energy and Greater Productivity
A while back, billionaire Richard Branson (of Virgin Atlantic fame) invited a group of 20 people to his Caribbean hideaway to discuss plans for a charitable foundation. At the meeting, a participant asked Branson point-blank: “How do you increase your productivity?” In other words, “how do you get more hours in the day?” Branson sat back in his chair, pondered the question for a moment, then said, “Exercise”. He said exercise keeps the endorphins going, the brain functioning well, and by exercising, he can achieve twice as much in a day by keeping fit. He said working out gives him a whopping four hours of extra productivity every day.
If one of the world’s busiest, wealthiest and most powerful people can find time to exercise, can’t you? Of course you can. And what is the greatest exercise around? You guessed it: martial arts. Martial arts helps burn fat and calories, builds strength, strips away stress and gives you a little “competition” in your athletic life. But the one thing that separates Babin’s Black Belt Academy from most other forms of exercise is that it keeps exercise interesting.
Think about it: lifting weights and burning hour after hour on the elliptical machine gets boring pretty fast. Not martial arts. Since it has an ever-increasing series of challenges (belts / ranks, competitions, weapons clinics), it keeps things fresh. You learn new skills and techniques all the time. All the while, you don’t even realize you’re exercising! But walk out of class – wow! – you feel invigorated, the endorphins are flowing (as Richard Branson points out) and the time flew by!
That’s why people who choose Babin’s Black Belt Academy for exercise tend to stick with it longer than most other types of exercise. Also don’t forget martial arts is a group activity: you have “positive peer pressure” to stick with it and a group to help give you that little push to stick to your exercise goals. I can’t think of a better way to boost your daily productivity, overall energy level and fitness than our martial arts program.
Benefit 2.) Discipline and Focus
In our ever-connected world of iPhones, iPads, blackberries and other smart devices, we’re multi-tasking more than ever before. On top of that, people demand our time, compete for our attention and we’re forced to shift focus constantly. As a result, we have a harder and harder time following through on tasks and staying on track. Yes, our digital, button-clicking culture is changing us rapidly. As anthropologist Amber Case at a recent TED conference said, “We’re all cyborgs now.”
As a result, one of the rarest and most valued character traits these days is focus. And this is where Babin’s Black Belt Academy training helps. It gives you a short break from digital demands, improves your powers of concentration and helps you really focus. This can even alleviate many of the negatives associated with our digital world.
Our martial arts program teaches focus and concentration through rhythmic breathing and relaxation, step-by-step repetitive movements, personal attention, positive reinforcement, adherence to etiquette and rules (structure), group reinforcement and a sense of belonging. For these reasons, we help build focus and concentration better than exercise alone.
Benefit 3.) Goal Achievement
While many of us in our professional lives set and strive towards various goals, many times these arecareer related, not mental and physical, as they are in martial arts. You see, our martial arts program provides a comprehensive training program that clearly outlines your goals and development. Your mind and your body are part of the formula every stop along the way. Martial arts takes you from square one and offers clear milestones along your path.
Whether you’re 5 or 50, a white belt or a black belt, you’re always working on goal achievement and towards a sense of personal victory. And the results of goal achievement take me right onto the fourth benefit…
Benefit 4.) Self-Confidence
Think confidence is just for kids? Think again. Studies find a strong correlation between adults with self-confidence and career advancement, success in relationships and productivity.
And here, too, our martial arts program helps. As you make progress through the belts, you become more confident in your ability to defend yourself. And this confidence comes through in the boardroom as well as the street.
Our martial arts program also helps you build confidence by encouraging you to succeed. This is one of the great benefits of martial arts at any age. When you’re self-assured, you approach more challenges with a can-do attitude, and as we all know, confidence goes a long way in breeding success.
But above all, I can’t begin to tell you how much confidence it gives you to know that you can handle yourself in any situation. Which brings me to my next big benefit…
Benefit 5.) Self-Defense
The Department of Justice reported almost 5,000,000 violent crimes in the United States last year. It can be a dangerous world out there, and this is especially true when the economy is struggling. How do you defend yourself? The answer is simple: martial arts.
All martial arts are certainly fun to do as an exercise and keep your mind off the physical exertion you’re experiencing, but don’t ever forget that you’re also building self-defense skills as well. We will help you improve your agility, balance, endurance, flexibility, and even your strength. It teaches you how to defend yourself physically as well as how to avoid physical confrontations in the first place.
And as I always say: “If you’re going to spend your time exercising, why not learn a skill at the same time? And if you’re learning a useful skill, why not learn a skill that can save your life – or the life of a loved one?”
Benefit 6.) Great Family Activity
More often than not, one parent is driving one child to soccer, and the other parent is driving to gymnastics. Parents are sitting on the sidelines, talking on their cell phones, visiting with the other parents and just trying to kill time while the kids are doing their activities. Yes, it’s great that parents act as the cheering section, but there can be more, much more.
You see, it’s really easy to sit on the side and say “Why isn’t Johnny kicking higher, blocking stronger, focusing better?” Or, “I can’t believe you had trouble breaking your boards in class today.” You see, it always looks easier than it really is from the sidelines!!
One of our parents (now a black belt himself) Vince Birdwell said, “I would watch them (his two kids) workout, then on the way home ask them why they weren’t yelling louder, kicking faster, punching harder and so on. Then I enrolled, and shortly after I started I went home and apologized to them because now I understood how challenging it really was!”
Another parent, Michelle Millman, watched from the sidelines for a few weeks before she decided to join in. Her comment, “I wanted to get in on the fun I saw my kids having”. Michelle and 2 sons have earned their black belts. The youngest, Leah, will test in July for the 1st degree.
The examples go on and on. But the MAIN BENEFIT for parents and kids training together is very simple. Babin’s Black Belt Academy and Karate for Kids helps close the generation gap in families. Imagine working on the same curriculum (obviously how the material is introduced and taught is different for adults and kids) but you have a common basis for setting goals, training, advancing in rank, tournament competition and supporting one another.
We have many families—parents and kids—that have all earned their black belts. It doesn’t get any better than that!!
Benefit 7.) Leadership
Your Call to Action
Martial arts offers so many benefits to adults of every age, it was difficult to list them all. You might be thinking of a few more – some of you might have experienced.
I want to close with a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
“The credit belongs to those people who are actuallyin the arena…
who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions to aworthy cause;
Who at best, know the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst,
fail by daring greatly…
so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls,
who know neither victory nor defeat”.
And if you haven’t yet tried our classes give it a shot. See why so many people – of so many different backgrounds and abilities .
The third eye, the spiritual enlightenment that compensates for the limitations of your other two physical eyes. The trilogy 1) The person that you think you are. 2) The person that others think you are. 3)The person that you are. Our objective is to bring all 3 into one. The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit are one in God. Created in the image of the almighty we must strive to be align with the universal laws. Inspiration, Innovation, Intelligence. Our Means goal is to bring 3 variables into one. Body, Mind and spirit with an end goal of a person that is as close to perfection as humanly possible.