What's it like to live in a household with a martial artist? I feel I can give you a great perspective as I live with two, and I can tell you this much, there is an honest attempt for discipline and simplicity in all areas of life, which is often difficult to achieve when dealing with kids ranging from 6 to 18, but extremely necessary, and there is also a tremendous emphasis on a healthy mind and body, which entails many aspects such as nutrition, spirituality, exercise, education, etc.All good things a household should strive for as it keeps the home moving in a positive direction. Martial artists also set goals, and have learned avenues on how to reach their goals, which benefits both the family, and each person individually.
To me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is.Bruce Lee
For kids, martial arts provides the perfect avenue to teach respect, discipline, learning skills, self defence, and mind-body coordination both in the dojo and at home. Everything we want them to learn, right?
In actuality, martial arts is built on this concept. Martial artists of long ago and those of today have respect instilled deep within them as they learn the art form. Respect for your master, teacher or students in levels above you; respect for the fight, and your opponent; and mostly respect for yourself. Starting from the second they enter their dojo, they are required to bow and formally address their masters and peers for a greeting. As they enter, they mindfully place their equipment, bags and shoes in designated locations, and request permission to enter the floor. During class, they are asked to acknowledge that they heard clear instructions, and address the instructor out of respect with a "sir" or "madam". Although many schools are seen as "strict" and "forceful", the kids are learning how to respect a person, a place, and thing, and unfortunately, that's a skill that is lacked in many children these days.
I know! This one is a tough one for most kids! I used to see it almost every night when it was time for class. "Do I have to go?" At first it was answered with a "Yes, I paid a lot of money for your classes!" But once my son began to learn and progress, working towards a goal became rewarding, and he on his own, wanted to attend his classes. After early mornings,a long day of school, and the desire to just hang out with the neighborhood kids, it takes a great deal of discipline to partake and succeed in a martial arts program.
Some people look at martial arts and dance classes as a waste of money, as they are indeed quite expensive. However, when you consider everything that is being taught to your child, it is well worth the money. They are learning a skill and technique they could carry on forever. In high school or at a college age, they could become instructors to earn extra money. Learning an art form is a life experience, especially one so ancient that it actually dates back to 3000 BCE!
Ok, we definitely don't want our kids going around beating people up, but there is a sense of security for both the parent and the child knowing that if something were to go wrong, there is a bit of security knowing they could defend themselves. Often times, this is all they need. The knowledge alone gives them the confidence to walk away. We hope!
Developing coordination is something that most people take for granted. Most can walk, run, skip, hop, ride a bike, but how many can kick-flip, round house kick, break a board, and perform over a dozen fighting rituals by memory? The more kids can gain control over these skills, and learn to control their bodies, the better. They are building a body that will last a lifetime. Strengthening and learning to control muscles are all good as the body grows and ages. This type of coordination is also very stimulating for the brain, bringing more blood flow, and sharpening cognitive skills which help in fighting anxiety, depression and many other teenage induced neurological disorders that often develop.
For the adults, there is a bit of a different aspect to taking martial arts. Of course, many of us could use the extra discipline, but for most, it's about gaining and keeping self confidence, keeping the mind sharp as we "youthfully age", exercising, and the stress relief that comes with the added financial and parenting responsibilities.
Gaining Self Confidence
Do you know it's a fact that attackers look for victims who are easy prey? If you portray confidence in your everyday life, you are less likely to be physically or verbally attacked. We are not only talking about vicious assault attacks by criminals, this concept stands in any situation. With great self confidence, a person is likely to be talked down upon, or minimized. It's not the kind of people that a controlling assaulter looks for. Often self confident parents, raise more self confident children.
Keeping a Sharp Mind
Skills like dancing and martial arts have actually been scientifically proven to exercise the brain as much as the physical body. The memorization of the routines have been connected with lowering the risks of certain neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. Keeping the mind sharp also encompasses a stronger focus and has been linked to higher productivity levels at work and home.
Martial Arts is a great form of exercise. It provides cardio, toning and strength training all in one. As we age, it is important to keep the body in tip top shape. It is in fact one of the most important elements in aging, along with nutrition and sleep, and should be squeezed in at least once a day for 30 minutes!
This is a HUGE one as too many adults are suffering from disorders relating to stress. It is debilitating and even life threatening if left unaddressed.Having a regular outlet of stress relief for a family definitely creates a more peaceful home environment. No one can function properly in a stressful environment. If an adult carries his stress home from work, the kids are bound to pick up on it, and will act out in one way or another. Keep stress levels at a minimum, and keep the outlet for managing stress maintained on a regular basis. Studies show a very strong correlation between exercise and decreased stress levels.
The great thing about a martial arts household, is that all the amazing benefits listed above are attached to a healthy lifestyle and make for an extremely positive living environment. It makes my life as a parent much easier when I have the assistance of the martial arts, the school, and the instructors to help implement discipline and structure with my family.