When it comes to martial arts, this ancient form of physical expression and skill has garnered its share of mystery. Some people wonder whether martial arts training requires a lifetime of dedication to be useful, while others wonder whether martial arts training makes kids more aggressive.
While any martial artist will let you know that any amount of practice matters when it comes to learning martial arts, we’ve looked at the latest research to break down whether martial arts training makes kids more aggressive.
Where Did the Idea that Martial Arts Training Make Kids Aggressive Come From?
It’s only expected that something as well known and widespread as the martial arts would have its fair share of myths and controversies. With so many people turning to martial arts to give their kids a healthy sport that trains both the mind and body, some have wondered whether martial arts training makes kids more aggressive, especially considering many parents specifically choose martial arts as a constructive outlet for aggression-prone kids.
What’s the truth? The idea that martial arts training makes kids more aggressive is likely rooted in a Norwegian study that found a link between martial arts and antisocial behavior in youth. However, unlike the results of this study, the criticism from other researchers that found flaws in the study’s methods weren’t well publicized. The study used a self-composed questionnaire, which led researchers to doubt the reliability of its results.
So what does the majority of research show about aggression in kids and martial arts training?
The Truth About Whether Martial Arts Training Makes Kids Aggressive
Most research shows you don’t have to worry about martial arts training turning your children into fighting machines any time soon. In fact, many studies show the opposite–martial arts training is likely to lower aggression in students, especially as the time they’ve practiced increases.
In one study from 2009, researchers compared aggression levels between 15 to 18 year old hockey players, a non-sport playing control group, and Tae Kwon Do students. This study found that the martial art students were lower in both overall hostility and verbal aggression as compared to not just the hockey players, but even the non-sport playing group of the same age.
A wealth of studies have confirmed the same results again and again: practicing martial arts reduces overall aggression in both younger students and adults. Pair this outcome with the many other documented positive outcomes, from better emotional control and increased ability to focus, and it’s easy to see why so many schools and parents choose martial arts to help enrich children’s lives.
Reducing a Child’s Aggression with Martial Arts
While the myth that martial arts training makes kids aggressive suggests otherwise, the reality continues to prove that reducing a child’s aggression with martial arts is an efficient and healthy option. Humans naturally seek the easiest option and when it comes to expressing frustration or anger, the easiest choice is usually harmful both for us and others. Providing kids with a healthy and productive tool for channeling and releasing the frustration and anger that are part of life is crucial to setting them up for success.
Martial arts have been the method of choice for providing a positive way to express and manage aggression for centuries upon centuries. If you’re searching for a healthy outlet for your child to help them learn to manage their emotions in a productive way, the martial arts are a powerful option.
It’s easy to get started with martial arts for kids—just find kids martial arts near you and let our martial arts experts help you get going. Our curriculum is designed to offer both fun and healthy instruction for adults and children alike.