The best martial art for children to learn is judo. But! Being a judo club, I guess we would say that and you would be very wise to question our motives.
But in this blog post, we set out to explain exactly why judo leads the way in regards to martial arts training for children and how it can benefit your child.
What are martial arts?
Martial arts are practiced all over the world. The majority originate from Asia and were created for the purpose of self-defence.
There are many different types of martial arts but to keep it very (very) simple I would separate them into two types of martial arts the first being focussed on striking and blocking, and the second being focussed on grappling and wrestling.
Martial arts such as Karate, Tae-Kwon-do, Kickboxing focus on striking and blocking and JUDO, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) focus more on grappling, throwing, and submissions.
Now martial arts training has evolved and over the years parents and practitioners have come to realise martial arts training offers so much more than just self-defence (although that is still an important reason to note). So here are 5 benefits to martial arts!
5 benefits of martial arts training:
- Learn self-defence skills
- Build confidence
- Improve concentration
- Get their child active and away from computer screens
- Self Discipline
Now this is not an exhaustive list and I am sure as someone reading this you could think of many more reasons but let’s just start with the ones listed above.
1. I would like my child to be able to defend themselves by learning self defence skills.
As a parent myself I know I want my child to be safe, I want them to feel safe. I do not want them to be bullied, and I do not want them to bully others.
I believe these are sensible concerns for any parent to have, but how does judo teach self defence skills especially if there is no striking or blocking?
Well, this is one of its biggest advantages (I promise I have not lost my mind) judo has over other martial arts that practice striking and blocking.
At Fighting Fitness Judo from the very first class children are able to learn and practice judo techniques and principles safely with FULL CONTACT.
Now you might ask why on earth have I just shouted full contact at you, but it is vital to understand the importance of being able to practice self defence skills in full contact.
Judo is based around throwing and pinning people to the floor (teenagers and adults also practice arm locks and strangles) this teaches children a very important principle of ‘cause and consequence’.
They throw and get thrown. They pin someone to the floor and get pinned to the floor.
They learn that the result of doing a technique on another child will result in them landing on the floor. If they throw them really hard, do not keep hold, or do not concentrate they could potentially hurt their partner.
The person being thrown also learns that if they do not concentrate, do not fall properly they might hurt themselves.
This is a key distinction to children learning how to throw a kick or a punch into the air or into mitts or a bag …. What happens to a person if they are kicked or punched? How much might it hurt? What is the consequence of my action?
By clearly understanding the outcome of an action (or technique in our case) children respect what they are being taught.
They know what will happen, not what might happen.
Judo also has the advantage of being able to practice all of its techniques in full contact against cooperative and non-cooperative partners. This enables them to practice in two ways:
- Repetition – with a partner working with them, they can practice their skills many times over improving them each and every time (think 10,000-hour rule).
- Adaptability – practicing against a partner who is actively trying to stop them or perform the same skills against them helps them adjust and adapt their techniques to overcome their opponent.
In class, we practice all of our judo skills in a judogi (judo uniform), but the techniques can be easily adapted if the person was not wearing a judogi – Ronda Rousey and Kayla Harrison are possibly the most famous people who have demonstrated this within the UFC and MMA.
2. I wish I could help my child become more confident.
As parents it is only natural we want our children to be confident.
- Confident to stand up for what is right or wrong.
- Confident to help a friend in need.
- Confident to say no when being pressured by friends.
- Confident to try hard to succeed.
- Confident to overcome setbacks.
The list could go on and on … but at Fighting Fitness Judo our coaches fully understand the importance of helping children become confident (and courageous). This is why we have a system built into our teaching to help children become more confident.
We focus on three principles:
- Improve self-belief.
- Help children model confidence.
- Give children the freedom to discover.
These three core principles are the building block for every child to become confident and successful.
The founder of judo Prof. Jigoro Kano taught “it is not important to be better than someone else, but to be better than you were yesterday.”
We believe every child should have an opportunity to be better, to be more confident, and through our principles, we help children discover this within our classes!
And we see these benefits in as little as 4 classes!
3. How do I help my child concentrate in school?
There is no escaping the fact we live in a world full of screens, social media, and short attention spans. As a parent, it can be frustrating to see how this can be disruptive to our children’s education and development.
Martial arts training is both a physical and mental journey.
Children learn the importance of focus and hard work.
This is so important in judo … Especially judo.
Judo is unlike most martial arts (and sports in general) children are allowed and I guess encouraged to try and throw their friend around a matted room (in the nicest way possible). If they do NOT exercise control if they forget to concentrate they risk hurting themselves or their partner (as previously mentioned).
Children are inherently kind and do not want to hurt their training partners so will try their best to concentrate in class.
Judo takes the approach that children are very capable when given opportunities to be. We’ve taught thousands of children over the years and they have proven this theory to be correct 99.9% of the time.
This is why within our classes we also encourage child lead demonstrations, explanations, and encouragement all of which help them improve their concentration skills.
Their improved concentration then benefits them in judo, in life, and in school.
4. My child loves computer games, I wish they were more active.
As parents it is easy to worry about your child’s long-term health, installing good habits at an early age around exercise is an important part of getting children moving and being fit for life.
So it is key children find a martial art or sport they like, enjoy, and can take part in where they feel like they can improve.
As many children can become disappointed and disinterested in sports and exercise especially if they are compared to and feel like they are not quite good as someone else.
We know every child grows at different speeds and every child has their own unique skills our coaches really focus on the individual and their effort.
Not EVERY child will be able to do EVERY skill and that’s ok! Because every child can try to be better than they were before.
This simple approach allows children to try hard and give tasks a go without a fear of failing or feeling embarrassed amongst their friends!
Judo is a fun all-around body exercise that increases fitness, builds strength, and improves things like coordination, agility, and flexibility. All of the things are done whilst practicing.
5. Can you teach children self-discipline?
Children face many challenges in the world as they grow up and will have to deal with many difficult decisions. But it is important they start to learn the skills needed to make better choices whether it is to try harder in school, say no to peer pressure, or even go to bed on time resisting the urge to watch another YouTube clip 🤪
Martial arts can help them make better choices.
A few of the ways we manage this are:
- Goal setting – Like many martial arts we use a belt ranking system (different coloured belts) white being the lowest black being the highest. Children become focussed on learning new skills and progressing through their belts which enables them to set, work towards and achieve a goal.
- Teach basic discipline – throughout classes children are taught the importance of listening and paying attention, through class demonstrations and interaction they have the opportunity to practice and are reminded if their behaviour is not where it is expected to be.
- Accountability – children are responsible for their actions. Through their judo lessons, they learn they are in control of what they do.
- Explain – When learning judo children are given explanations on why we expect certain behaviours. They understand it is not because we are being ‘boring’ or are part of the ‘fun police’ it is to keep them safe and help them learn quicker.
Children can learn self-discipline it is not easy and they will find it difficult at times (we all do), but there is a REAL long-term advantage for children who learn these skills.
In more extreme situations recent studies there has been evidence to suggest that martial arts help children learn good behaviours, become more sociable, and pay better attention in school. One study, in particular, discovered that martial arts can give violent adolescents coping skills for navigating dysfunctional family relationships.
The x10 Factor
It’s easy to think of these as individual benefits to a child but when added together it makes a huge difference in transforming children’s lives. This is why we know martial arts training for children is an important part of their development and something we have experienced and seen first hand for many years.
If you would like to find out more information about classes fill out an inquiry form on the website and one of our team will be in contact with you!