Martial Arts classes are known for building and supporting a child's self confidence. Parents often ask me: "What's the best martial arts for children?" The answer is of course: "It depends."
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I've been lucky to study a variety of martial arts styles: Taekwondo, Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing and know that they can all have tremendous benefits for children, including self-confidence.
However, in my opinion, more important that what martial arts is taught, is how the martial art is taught.
We've found the combination of two macro-strategies is essential for reaching the desired short term and long term outcomes for our children.
Ultimately, we want them to happy, healthy and successful.
This result stems from making sure that they are physically fit, are self-confident, have a good sense of self-esteem and are enabled with the coping skills to handle the world as they grow up and become adults.
Martial arts can provide all of these tools, but martial arts education must be deployed in the right way.
Macro Strategy #1 - Teach kids martial arts in an age-appropriate way. You see, children go through different stages of development as they grow up. As a result, it makes the most sense to teach kids all things according to their level of development. Academics, music, sports, gymnastics are all taught effectively in an age-based way.
Martial Arts classes should be taught similarly. At Dragon Gym, based on the work of child development experts, we divide our kids martial arts programs into four age groups as follows:
- SHARK - Three to Five year olds
- LION - Five to Seven year olds
- EAGLE - Seven to Ten year olds
- DRAGON - Ten to Thirteen year olds
This way we can ensure that the children are in classes with other students that move, communicate, relate and think in similar ways. Consequently, the students are challenged just the right amount...the classes aren't too easy or too difficult.
This thoughtful combination of challenge and accomplishment consistently helps build confidence in children.
Macro Strategy #2 - Create a system, a framework for goal setting and success. The pinnacle goal for our students is to reach the coveted "Black Belt". However, this goal will take years to achieve. This metaphorical mountain is too high for them to comprehend let alone climb.
So, we break down the goal of Black Belt into the above mentioned four developmentally specific age groups. Each of those age groups is then divided into nine belts. And then, each of those belts is divided into 10 Qualities, also known as "Jung Shin Tong Il" in our program.
Children develop confidence through attainment.
Not through "participation trophies", but through actual achievement. Every one of these stripes is a mini-attainment. It has clear requirements and expectations that the student must meet. If they fulfill those requirements, they get the stripe, if not, they don't.
The students are able to comprehend this in a very actionable way.
Each of these mini-attainments (stripes) stacks and leads to the achievement of a new belt. Each of these belts earned stacks and becomes the graduation of an age-specific program. These graduations eventually lead to the Black Belt.
Along the way there may be some missteps, obstacles and failures. But, the students are learning to manage failure, learn from their mistakes and keep moving on.
This is self-confidence.
Check out our "9 Steps to Build Your Child's Self Confidence Below"