Years ago, a family member’s kid was diagnosed with ADHD. The child’s doctor recommended either soccer or karate for a kid with ADHD. Many parents report that karate teaches focus for their children. And as kids can learn, adults can learn. I started karate as an adult and it has helped me to develop my own focus as well.
Karate Teaches Focus with a Structured Environment
At our traditional Okinawan dojo, each class has a structured, disciplined format. We follow and expect students to follow traditional rules and etiquette. From lining up and bowing to begin and end each class, to standing and sitting in class as martial arts etiquette and discipline require. We expect students to respect others in class by keeping their hands to themselves until instructed otherwise. And when they do work with partners, they must follow the rules of conduct. Participation in this structured environment is one way that karate teaches focus.
Karate Teaches Focus through Goal Setting
The belt ranking system consists of goals set out for each student of progressing colored belts. Beginner belts typically take less time to achieve, while more time and focus on learning the curriculum is needed to achieve higher ranks. Karate teaches focus with other goals as well such as stripes on belts, tickets in class for kids, and instruction in personal goal setting. When students learn to target on achieving specific goals, this helps them build a focused foundation.
Katas & Exercises are part of how Karate Teaches Focus
As a student successfully attends karate classes, they start to learn katas and exercises. These specific moves involve the whole body and require a good amount of focus in order to perform, even with the teacher or group. Karate teaches focus incrementally through that whole process. Eventually, the student performs the kata or exercise individually, which requires a lot of focus.
Karate Teaches Focus with Constructive Use of Energy
Kids can have an abundance of energy going all over the place. Let’s admit it, adults can too, although they may feel and show it differently. Karate teaches focus by having students use their energy in a wide variety of constructive, dynamic activities. Even though students are “giving it their all,” they are blowing off steam in a specific and practical way. Then this allows them to focus in on more calm and intricate activities as needed.
Karate Teaches Focus by Teaching Self Discipline
In Dojo Kun number five we commit to, “Restraining my physical abilities through spiritual attainment.” We explain this to our youngest students as meaning, “Control myself.” This Dojo Kun, or oath, is one way that we teach self discipline. As we train over time, we learn to implement the other myriad ways that karate teaches focus through self discipline.
I like to think of focus as one of those superpowers that can be learned through karate. It is not always easy, but the challenges are not insurmountable and it is a lot of fun. Here are some more benefits from karate, specifically for kids.