Karate Meets Kids where they are

When I talk with prospective karate parents looking into our children’s karate program, I often mention that it helps if their child or teen has an interest in martial arts. It can even be a very mild or vague curiosity. With that, karate meets kids where they are. And that combination of interest and a super cool traditional art gives children the potential to go far and glean so much from their training.  

Karate is well-suited to kids. Its physicality is fun and challenging and uses their energy in constructive ways. And it helps with stress relief. Then there is the positive attitude of any good teacher which, if not immediately contagious to children it is appreciated by young students. They don’t need to know much about it in the beginning and yet they will go far by just trying their best.

Another way that karate meets kids where they are, at least here in America, is the fun of the mystery of a different culture. And karate has its own culture so even Japanese-American and Okinawan-American children can find intrigue when they join a dojo. There are ancient nicknames for the katas that we do, traditional kanji (Japanese writing) to learn details about, legends about our weapons and the masters who’ve gone before, ninja, samurai and things like the spirit of the samurai sword. Children and teens, with their intense imaginations, appreciate glimpsing karate’s mystery.

karate meets kids where they are with its history, legend and mystery as shown in this old photo of karate practitioners training at Shuri Castle

Then there is the whole well-rounded teaching of karate that has so many facets. Those facets include, but are not limited to: physical muscle memory and challenges, physical fitness, the cultural mystery mentioned above, Asian history knowledge as it applies to karate, and learning the Japanese language. Then there are the aspects of: self-improvement in any area you choose, goal-setting, learning to take and give support in a group setting, support in improving your attitude, and consistently working on being an example of karate’s traditional values.

This article says how it’s important to teach your kids grit. It quotes Angela Duckworth, Distinguished Professor of Psychology as saying you can teach kids grit by trying to “cultivate something which grabs their attention initially, but that they become familiar with enough, knowledgeable enough that they wake up the next day and the next day and the next year, and they’re still interested in this thing.” If course no matter how interesting, children and teens will have cycles where their zest for anything wanes. But still, karate meets kids where they are in providing an interesting activity which can grow with them throughout their lives.

That article is how to set your children up to lead happy, successful lives. It is not about karate. But in addition to grit, it mentions helping your kids build meaningful relationships. That happens naturally for kids who are part of the dojo. And with their parents’ help, it happens even more easily for students. Another point mentioned is the importance of teaching your children to be all-around healthy. Karate helps with the physical exercise part of that, and encourages a healthy lifestyle.

karate push-ups show that karate meets kids where they are with physical fitness needs

There are other ways that karate meets kids where they are and also helps set them up for a happier, more successful life. Here I have just mentioned my favorites. One of the first things talked about in the article referenced above is becoming happier and less stressed yourself in order to help your children learn to be happy and successful. I have a great tool to help you do that, and you can even do it with your kids. That tool is family karate classes.

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger

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