I earned my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do at 10 years old and progressed to my second-degree black belt in the 11 years that I did martial arts. The experience that I had shaped many parts of my life, and I am a more mature, disciplined, healthy, and well-regulated person today because of my experience.
Doing martial arts can have an amazing amount of benefits that I am excited to share with you!
- Martial arts can help with brain skills! The structure, routine, and discipline used in most martial arts helps children improve focus. Having a structured physical activity can always improve self-regulation, but martial arts are especially beneficial in that there is often a time of relaxation and quiet, unlike most sports. Children learn to transition their bodies from an intense, fight-mode to a calm, focused mode.
- It also helps build perseverance through the challenging physical and mental obstacles children face. Learning forms, or series of movements, can improve attention, and working memory as well as praxis skills. Physically, martial arts builds physical endurance, strength, balance, accuracy, speed, flexibility, bilateral coordination skills, and more.
- Martial arts can help improve behavior through providing structure and routine, as well as encouraging discipline and direction following.
- Accomplishments achieved in martial arts can greatly improve self-esteem and sense of self, which can lead to less bullying or other intrusive behaviors.
- Children often fight because the feel threatened or dysregulated. Martial arts can improve confidence and regulation in order to avoid fights in the first place. A high-quality martial arts instructor will regularly remind children that it is a privilege to practice, and if children use their martial arts skills for harmful purposes, they will no longer have the privilege to practice.
- Additionally, having an appropriate place to let out physical aggression in a safe, productive way (e.g., punching on a punching bag) can actually decrease aggressive behaviors at home or school.
Social Aspect of Martial Arts
- Despite not (always) having to work with teammates as in most ball sports, Tae Kwon Do has many social aspects to it! It can build interpersonal social skills in a less intimidating way for socially shy children by providing a structured class that requires less consistent peer interactions.
- Additionally, in many forms of martial arts, children are able to engage in team forms for competition which require working directly with one or more people to create a form!
- Individual competitions can help children learn to be gracious winners or gracious losers without the peer pressure of teammates.
Appropriate Population: Anyone who is interested! Children with a lot of energy and children with behavioral or sensory challenges are especially appropriate.
Popular Forms of Martial Arts: Check out this link for a list of some popular martial arts as well as information on how to choose what is best for your child!
Written By: Laura Boggio, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist
2nd Degree Black Belt