The image of The Karate Kid (a.k.a. Ralph Macchio) is typically one of the first mages that comes to parents minds these days when one hears about of considers a martial art for children. And it’s not always the image of Daniel-son pulling his winning ‘Crane’ kick move in the final match of his ultimate ‘do or die’ karate match that parents remember. Unfortunately it is often the attitude and bullying behaviour of Johnny Lawrence and his goons that sticks in peoples mind.
As much as I, and many of my generation, loved Karate Kid, Johnny Lawrence didn’t do martial arts any favours (Sorry Johnny!). Where are martial art is meant to be about the practice of combat, defence and physical movements and the management of the mind, it is often portrayed as a violent tool that bullies use on defenceless and innocent victims.
The reality is that a true martial art will teach your kids discipline and respect. One of the principle rules or values of any martial art is that it is to be used in self defence only. And that is after you have tried to Avoid, Resolve or Manage any conflict. At no point, does a martial art encourage violence…or practicing on your sibling! So rest assured, your child will not become a violent delinquent because of a martial art.
A few weeks ago, we outlined a number of different types of martial arts and why they differ. At Titans, we teach taekwondo. This is a Korean martial art. It literally means Tae ‘Foot’, Kwon ‘Fist’ and Do ‘Way’. So loosely translated it mean ‘way of the foot and fists’.
This martial art is no different to others in that it teaches discipline and respect and resolve conflict through passive means first if possible before using your self defence techniques. And these are techniques that a child only starts to learn once they have started to master the core values or tenets required in taekwondo.
The Five Tenets of Taekwondo
- Invincibility of Spirit
The Titans taekwondo program for kids is aimed at introducing some of the core values and basic gross motor skills of martial arts to preschool and primary school children at a young age through to the more mature values such as discipline and respect along with more refined coordination and technical skills. Taekwondo as a sport teaches coordination, balance, flexibility and speed amongst other skills through hand and foot techniques on our pads, bags and other equipment.
Taught in a safe and appropriate environment, but using reality and scenario based training techniques, taekwondo can build confidence and self-esteem through the improvement and achievement of new skills. It is important that children learn to value themselves and seek satisfaction through their own achievements, personal goal and successes rather than external validation of their worth. We have seen many amazing and wonderful transformations in the confidence of children, the formation of new friendships and the emergence of happy, healthy little people. And nothing compares to the smile on a child’s face when they complete their first grading for a new stripe on their belt. Yes, we have belts and grading’s. It’s another awesome way that children can measure their commitment and discipline along with their skills and celebrate their success. It’s also really good practice for the many other tests they will face in their futures.
So, forget Karate Kid and forget Johnny Lawrence. A martial art can be wonderful for you child. That is, if you want them to be confidence, happy, healthy and strong little people.