But wont martial arts make my kid aggressive?
I want to address one of the most common questions I get from parents about enrolling their kids in martial arts classes. They worry – and you may too – that putting their kids in a martial arts classroom will teach them that fighting is the best way to resolve their problems.
I think the reason that this question is so common is that people who haven’t studied martial arts have some real misconceptions about what it is. Maybe it’s because martial arts movies put such a heavy emphasis on fighting. Parents see The Karate Kid and imagine their kids turning into bullies.
The opposite is true. The core of martial arts is respect for yourself, your instructors, and other people. When you treat other people with respect, your first instinct is not to fight with them when you have a disagreement. There’s nothing respectful about throwing the first punch.
Now, you might be wondering how that can be true. If kids learn how to punch and kick, won’t they want to do those things on the playground, too?
The reason they don’t is that the martial arts aren’t only about fighting. It’s true that people who study martial arts have the tools they need to defend themselves, but they learn other things, too. I’m talking about:
- How the mind and body work together – and why the mind always needs to be in control
- The importance of self-control and why they should never lead with their fists
- How to control their emotions when they need to and avoid being distracted by them
- How and why they should respect themselves, their instructors, and their fellow students
Unprovoked aggression is contrary to what we teach in our classes. Our students spar in class, but they do so to learn. There are some moves that can be taught only in practice, but we monitor the students and their goal is not to hurt one another.
Some kids choose to do competitive fighting. If your child wants to do that, then we’ll help them prepare. But again, the fights are in a controlled environment. The goal is not to hurt their opponent, but to demonstrate a superior grasp of the martial arts.
In a future email, I’ll share a story about how martial arts study has helped kids stop being playground bullies – but for now, I’ll sign off with this. In our classes, we don’t teach kids to fight. We teach them about themselves, and how to control their minds and bodies. That’s a big difference.
Until next time,