5 Great Habits Kids Learn from Martial Arts classes in Ocoee Florida

5 Great Habits Kids Learn from Martial Arts

One of my students drew me a card complete with a picture of me doing a side kick, with a smile, and wearing my signature pony tail. It said “I love karte.”Yes, “karate” was spelled wrong, but it didn’t matter; everything that he was trying to say was just right. His message was clear. He enjoys class. He has fun. He learns. And, he likes his instructor.

Kids don’t just learn martial art skills when they come to class. They establish actions and thoughts that can only be formed by martial arts training. Unlike any other sport, martial arts are much more than a series of skills to be practiced. Martial arts also teach how to believe in others, what friendship means, how to focus, how to be confident, and that routine is important. Here’s a few of the lessons that often go unnoticed:

1. Trust

martial arts schools in OcoeeIn martial art classes, kids learn how to trust, and what trust means. I’m an instructor because I have a desire to help kids achieve, excel, and learn to defend themselves. I want them to grow and be healthy, just like my own children. The children I teach trust me because I show a willingness to help them understand skills, I answer their questions, and I show compassion and a true interest in what they are doing.

They need someone who will wipe tears while at the same time push them toward the next part of class. In order for an instructor/student relationship to flourish, trust must evolve. Parents can sit and watch class if they choose; therefore, trust does not mean that kids need to be distanced from their parents; rather, they should know that they are safe and protected by both their parents and their instructor. Learning trust is easy, but keeping it is another story. My behavior gives the students an idea of whether or not they should believe in me. The more consistent I am, the more likely the student will trust me. Because I truly find joy in teaching children, trust naturally follows. When trust is established, kids learn better.

2. Camaraderie

Where else can kids run and yell and kick and punch with their friends and peers, or make brand new friends? Children naturally have a lot of energy and they genuinely get excited about their accomplishments and that of their classmates, in class. Because individual achievement and goals are encouraged, even shy children will step forward to showcase their talents in class. I often remind students to show their appreciation for each other when they demonstrate skills. They are allowed to support each other by clapping and cheering if some informal warm ups or games are being played.

Students need to make friendships. I try to allow small bits of time where they can talk with each other for a moment, or compare what they have learned. If they need to pair up for any partner work or drills, I always make sure each gets a partner. This is a new friendship in the making; a friendship worth making.

3. Better Focus

Karate schools in OcoeeStanding in attention is a moment of focus and reflection. The beginning of class starts this way and throughout class this command is used to help pause the rhythm of the class. I may use the attention command as a transition method or as a way to control the flow and behavior of a group of kids. When the children hear the attention word beckoned, they stop and take the attention stance, eyes straight ahead, and fists held out in front of the body.

They are learning how to calm their minds. By slowing down they can move ahead. When kids apply moments of attention to their daily lives, especially when they are feeling nervous or upset, it enables them to handle stressful situations better, too.

4. Values & Virtues

Many programs have a mantra or saying that is exclusive to that school; words that generally convey a positive message about respect and responsibility, or courage and commitment. Our program includes a “mat minute” where anything from junk food to setting goals to appreciation is discussed. It is a good opportunity in the middle of class to refresh with a quick drink of water and a tidbit of good advice or an interesting story for the young ones.

During the mat minute, kids often raise their hands to share what is on their minds. Often they express how they have helped a friend feel better, what they love about their parents, or why they like to give gifts. These moments are precious and by listening we are teaching them how to be patient, take turns, and listen to others. A few words in a few minutes can help them learn about goodness, friendship, sharing, and treating others with respect.

5. Routine

Kids thrive on routine. If you are a parent you know that when routine is broken, nap time is skipped, or a new environment is introduced, well, things can get a little crazy! Even adults, when removed from normal routines, find it difficult to cope in some situations. Routine is comforting.

Taekwondo schools in OcoeeChildren who attend classes regularly develop good habits. Eventually they crave the routine of coming to class, meeting up with friends, and having fun. Students tend to keep coming to class when they are happy about what they are doing; but, the most important part of routine is that it provides a strong life-long pattern of learning. My goal is to help kids create a love for martial arts so that it becomes an integral part of their lives. Hopefully, these habits will stay with them and keep them going in a good and positive direction for the rest of their lives.

The best lessons that are learned by kids in martial arts cultivate strong and confident personalities. They may be too young to execute a skill perfectly right or perform a kata from beginning to end, but, they are not too young to gain tremendous benefits from learning a martial art. What they learn now can be applied to their lives as they grow older to teens and then adults.
“Karte” may not be the right way to spell karate, but I don’t think it matters. If a child loves class enough to draw a picture of his teacher smiling while doing a side kick, then I think it’s probably spelled exactly right.

Andrea Harkins

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