How Martial Arts Aid in the Treatment of ADD/ADHD Attention Deficit Disorder

Jan 24th, 2020

Martial arts have been in existence for longer than most other sports — Chinese martial arts were first recorded as far back as 4,000 years ago. If you’re new to this tradition, just consider martial arts as a system of physical training. What that system focuses upon can range from self-defense to competition, to spiritual development. There are different systems of training in martial arts, some of the most popular being Muay Thai from Thailand, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate from Japan, and Kung Fu from China. Each subcategory of martial arts reflects the unique characteristics of its founders and of the location from which it originated.

The martial arts have transformed and developed over the many centuries they have existed throughout. Currently, Karate and Taekwondo are the most popular forms of martial arts in the United States. Martial arts are even a popular program in most grade schools. What makes martial arts so appealing to so many people even as centuries pass?

What the originators and practitioners of these fighting arts have known for so long is what research has now confirmed — the martial arts are highly beneficial in many ways. Not only can practicing martial arts boost a person’s physical health by providing an invigorating physical workout, but martial arts can also be beneficial for our mental and emotional health. Specifically looking to ADD and ADHD, we can see the value of including a martial arts practice in an ADD treatment. Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are conditions that affect a person’s ability to hold their attention on one thing for an extended amount of time. Other symptoms of the disorder include restlessness, forgetfulness, and impulsivity. ADD and ADHD can cause major difficulties for individuals struggling with the disorder as they attempt to cope in situations that require focus such as school and work or as they require impulse control in situations that can be triggering.

While medication can be taken to help curb the difficulties of living with ADD and ADHD, other remedies are often sought out by people who find that medication doesn’t adequately address all aspects of their symptoms. In situations where medicine is not enough or an individual would prefer to opt for a more holistic treatment to avoid the ill effects that often come along with strong medication, some people have turned to martial arts. Just as martial arts have been found to significantly benefit the minds and bodies of those not struggling with ADD and ADHD, it has been found to address the symptoms of those who do.

Martial arts can address some of the most difficult aspects of dealing with ADD and ADHD, such as impulsivity. Specifically, the curriculum and training that instructors of the Premier Martial Arts studios undertake, make them some of the country’s best experts at helping children with ADD/ADHD. Research has discovered that taking part in complex physical activity, such as martial arts, can create new neural pathways in the brain. These new neural pathways can lead to an increase in self-control for those dealing with the impulsivity that comes with ADD and ADHD. Additionally, learning choreography and practicing physical movements can transform into strengths what would otherwise be viewed as weakness caused by an attention disorder. In the case of impulsivity, while an impulsive person might find themselves in trouble in social situations requiring self-control, an impulsive person who has channeled that trait into the selection of physical moves during a martial arts match will find their impulsive manner of jumping from move to move is a strength in the lightening quick martial arts matches.

Another benefit of studying Premier Martial Arts as a means of ADD treatment is how it teaches students how to develop discipline and organization. Particularly in the case of discipline, martial arts can be of great use to those struggling with the negative effects of ADD and ADHD. This disorder interrupts an individual’s discipline in the same way it interrupts their focus — to develop discipline, one needs focus. Martial arts helps the learner to develop their discipline in the same way it helps them develop their focus — by requiring the usage of these skills and the repetition to practice applying them again and again. Through usage and repetition, just as one can develop a more skillful physical movement, martial arts allow for the development of more skillful cognitive and emotional moves. A student of martial arts quickly learns that their success depends squarely on their ability to focus and stay steadfast during their training. Many of the various martial arts are developed to incorporate rigorous testing of cognitive and emotional skills as well. The student of martial arts must develop their focus and discipline to develop the physical movements that lead to their success.

There are certainly many benefits to studying martial arts as an individual coping with ADD or ADHD and some of these benefits come from the structure of the practice itself. The studying of martial arts lends itself well to the learning needs of those struggling with attention disorders. Techniques in martial arts are taught in small blocks of 1-3 techniques per practice session. While there may be thousands of different techniques in one martial arts form, an instructor will train their students to repeat only a few techniques again and again until they become automatic. This type of small lesson size that emphasizes repetition lends itself well to those struggling to maintain focus and dealing with forgetfulness. Attention disorders are also prone to performing repetitive actions, making the study of martial arts a natural outlet for a behavior that can otherwise create problems.

In addition to repetition and small chunks of new material, students of Premier Martial Arts will find more satisfaction in the reward system built into the practice. The awarding of different colored belts and other such small, reachable milestones helps to sustain a student’s motivation and ultimately teach them the discipline necessary to maintain elongated focus and effort, a source of difficulty for those struggling with ADD and ADHD.

There are many instances where an individual coping with ADD or ADHD may feel at a disadvantage or even completely disenfranchised from what they’re attempting to do. Maybe children in typical school settings find themselves in a situation that seems almost willfully designed to aggravate the symptoms of attention disorders. For many, turning to the study of martial arts provides solace and a healthy arena in which to channel the symptoms they struggle with into strengths and improve those areas that are a weakness. It’s easy to see why this ancient form of physical training has endured for so long and now become a major part of ADHD and ADD treatment for those seeking relief from troublesome symptoms.

Premier Martial Arts are the country’s largest martial arts franchise with locations in cities all of the United States, Canada, and England. To find a location near you, please visit our website at


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We make it easy to try our martial arts programs. Our start-up offer includes two private lessons with a PMA expert trainer to explore your ability level and find the right programs to help you meet your goals. We even include a uniform – everything you need to make a positive change!


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