If you had an opportunity to provide valuable life skill lessons to your child with a fun and healthy method, you’d likely jump at the chance. Many parents are doing exactly that when it comes to enrolling their children in a martial arts program. While values like discipline and practice are some of the more obvious lessons learned through martial arts, there are other, more subtle but equally important skills kids learn.
Learning how to compete and how to cooperate are two invaluable life skills. Kids can learn both at an early age by participating in martial arts. These skills are part of progressing in both martial arts and life, making the dojo the perfect place for practicing life skills.
Martial Arts Helps Kids Learn How to Compete
Competition has become a slightly dirty word in our culture, though it’s always been a part of school, employment, and life in general. However, over the last few decades, competition hasn’t always been taught to children as much as it has been in the past. There is a place for competition and a place for cooperation—every martial artist knows this and learns it in the dojo. Learning how to compete in a healthy, respectful way is important for kids as they navigate different spheres of life.
The main competitor any martial artist of any age will face is, first and foremost, themselves. This is an important lesson that kids learn in the dojo. Kids learn via the real, healthy demands of physical exertion through martial arts that they mainly compete against themselves. They learn to never give up, even if they are tired, even if they are distracted, even when they want to quit.
How Martial Arts Teaches Healthy Competition
There are also aspects of competition that are faced in an external way while practicing martial arts. Two main arenas apply to competition in martial arts—progress in the belt system and sparring/fighting.
The belt system is useful as a hierarchy and step-by-step, clear goal-oriented system that both motivates and challenges the young martial artist. Everyone strives to reach the next level and desires the honor of a new belt. The belts serve as physical proof of the martial artist’s dedication.
Sparring is often part of the competition process in the dojo, too. Sometimes it is optional, and often it is based on the age and skill level of the participant. Sparring may seem frightening to some parents but it’s safer than many other contact sports and even many sports that are no contact or low contact. Sparring is a powerful way for young martial artists to learn how to embody the spirit of healthy competition.
Martial Arts Helps Kids Learn How to Cooperate
Competition is vital to a young martial artist, but cooperation is also equally important. One can’t compete in the dojo unless they learn how to cooperate with their fellow martial artists and their instructor.
Cooperation is learned in the dojo through practicing with other martial artists. It’s critical to learn how to cooperate with others, especially while learning new techniques. Everyone who has practiced martial arts knows how useful it is to have a good partner when learning grappling, throws, and strikes. The point is always to help the other person learn in a safe and effective manner. Especially when learning a complex technique, it’s important to go with the flow of the person you are practicing with, otherwise the practice is less effective.
While stubbornness can be a virtue at times, it’s always important for a young student to cooperate with their instructors. This often means paying attention and obeying the pace the instructor sets, even when a young martial artist may want to speed up the process.
Cooperation is learned in many small ways at the dojo. Many dojos ask their students to work to keep the space clean and organized. Working together to move heavy bags, making sure training equipment is placed properly, and helping other younger students are all ways the spirit of cooperation is made manifest in the dojo.
Gaining Important Values by Starting Martial Arts
Competition and cooperation aren’t virtues at odds with themselves. Through martial arts, kids learn both of these values in many ways while getting healthy exercise and socializing.
If you’re considering giving your child a head start by enrolling them in a martial arts program, Premier Martial Arts is here to help your child have the best experience possible. Find your local Martial Arts studio to get your child started with a fun and rewarding way to learn important life lessons.