By: Reid Presely
When people think of martial arts, they think about discipline, confidence, kicking and punching, and the Karate Kid. Martial arts is known for being a character development program that involves a person’s strength and endurance improving as they rank up, but rarely do people ever look at what the students are gaining and think about the massive benefits martial arts can provide for the other sports they play. From baseball to football, martial arts helps students excel in these sports by instilling certain qualities like coordination, coachability, and how to take ownership of their position on the team. With the help of boosted confidence and the ability to exercise self-discipline, martial arts athletes can really stand out in the other sports they play.
No matter what sport a person plays, a higher level of coordination is required to be successful. Through martial arts, students are constantly working on this skill through the various drills they’ll experience in classes. These drills will have students jumping, running, striking moving targets, and even kicking while in the air. All of these movements directly translate into a person improving their body awareness, and in turn, improving their coordination.
Strength is another major component of being involved with sports and martial arts thrives on improving students’ strength and fast-twitch muscle usage. Students are learning how to execute explosive, quick movements when they are striking a bag, sparring with a classmate, or implementing push ups, burpees, or tuck jumps in between martial art techniques. One way to build strength is to remain consistent, and unlike all other sports, martial arts offers year-long weekly training. This keeps students constantly active, and allows them to approach each new season with newfound strength.
In regards to all sports, players need to have both physical and mental toughness. One of the most widely sought after quality from martial arts is self-discipline, and this trait alone can take anyone from being average, to being great. From the very first day, students in the martial arts are taught about self-discipline and how there are tasks a person should do without being told to do them. Besides learning about the importance of doing homework and household chores, students are expected to learn how to practice on their own. This teaches students that class or team practice isn’t enough training, and that they need to go above and beyond on their own time to reach their sporting goals.
One thing all coaches look for is an athlete that is coachable and willing to listen to what the coach has to say. One quality that helps an athlete be coachable is respect, and in martial arts, students are not allowed to participate in class unless they are willing to show respect for their teachers, classmates, and primarily their parents. From day one, they learn how to bow to show kindness and respect, and they learn how to answer up with yes sir or yes ma’am to all adults. Respect is one of the most important things to an instructor, and they hold their students accountable in every class. Students will learn to respect the instructor when they speak, and the same amount of respect should be shown when being coached by their sports coach. More times than not, a coach will know there is a positive difference between the kids that do martial arts on the team and those that do not.
For a student to rank up in the martial arts, they have to learn how to take responsibility for their progress. At every testing, they are judged based off of their individual progress and performance, and they do not get judged based off of the overall class participation. This translates to other sports in the sense of an athlete taking on the ownership and responsibility of their position. Some athletes may find comfort in having other players that can run the ball, get a base hit, or score a goal, but a martial arts athlete is always going to do their best to fulfil their role. They will take every at bat, field goal, or free throw seriously, and will hold themselves personally responsible for their success on these situations.
When you mesh all of these physical and mental qualities together, you are inevitably going to get a confident athlete. This boost to confidence is going to allow them to perform better because they will believe in themselves and their skills. They are going to be strong, practiced, motivated, coachable, and willing to take every situation head on. With the ability to provide all of that, martial arts gives athletes an unfair advantage because they are getting in extra training and refining every quality needed to be successful in all sports.