Martial arts have been a part of my life since I was a small boy. Watching a breaking demonstration at my church at the age of four by the master who taught there, I knew that was what I wanted to do. My mother took me to sign up for the class, but I was turned away until I was a year older.
But from the moment I started classes I developed a sense of honor, dignity, self control, and meaning that I feel only the martial arts could have delivered me. I learned about another culture, and I practiced skills such as stretching and useful exercises that I would keep as I grew up and took part in other sports.
The most important thing I developed from my journey in the martial arts however was the development of my own personal life philosophy. In fact when I try to explain how my ideas work I can only describe them through the experience that I developed these ideas. All I can say for the scope of this article is that understanding the side kick showed me how important asking the why when and how for every situation I’m in. I learned I became a better martial artist when I knew the history behind a technique, not only knowing how to perform it.
I would encourage parents who live in small towns where there isn’t much to do to enroll their children into a martial arts school simply for the experience of it. And if you’re not too busy, join in yourself and lead by example. Nothing could motivate me more as a child than when my family backed me up in my efforts.
Besides teaching your child healthy habits that will stick with them forever, the schools teach them about another culture, an invaluable experience for some children who may not learn about these people and places in their entire educational careers! Sad, yes, but true. Being a college student now I have still yet to receive any formal education on anything about the Korean nation except perhaps a day in high school when we discussed the Korean War.
Now I know Christian parents generally have a problem with the eastern aspect of the martial arts. There are plenty of churches that organize Tae Kwon Do schools or Karate schools that will provide an entirely Christian environment for your children. But the martial arts in themselves are not religion based. If you take your children to a regular martial arts school there is nothing but more for them to learn about another culture. Some churches will entirely cut out every trace of the parent nation of the martial art being practiced and I think that’s just wrong. Your child won’t come home a Buddhist just because he or she saw someone break a pile of bricks.
Martial arts can be a great rewarding experience for children and taking the time to look into a few local outlets for your child’s free time can’t hurt, so I encourage you to go out into your community and find a place where your child can benefit from a great martial arts school.