All the cool kids in high school were martial artists. I didn’t originally choose martial arts but my parents did. They worked crazy hours and it was tough on them to get me to organized sports practices and games. They wanted me to be active so they enrolled me in Karate. When I wasn’t training at the dojo I was teaching my friends in my basement. My parents encouraged me and supported my classes and training.
As a result of being an martial arts athlete, I learned coordination, leadership, team spirit, physical strength, and interpersonal skills. I learned how to cope with loss, frustration, and sheer exhaustion. I was taught to respect my sensei (teacher), support my friends at the dojo, and challenge myself.
In fact, sports, martial arts in particular taught me lessons and skills I would not have easily learned elsewhere. Besides, being an athlete was fun.
That’s why I was saddened to read that, according to the National Alliance for Sports, 20 million kid register each year for youth hockey, football, baseball, soccer, and other competitive sports, but about 70 percent of these kids quit playing these league sports by age 13 — and never play them again. The number one reason they quit, says Michael Pfahl, executive director of the National Youth Sports Coaches Association, “is that it stopped being fun.” That is not the fault of sports. Parents and the right coach can keep the fun factor. Research finds that when children participate in sports, it helps them learn coordination, leadership skills, how to work in a group, cope with frustration, acquire physical strength, and develop communication skills.
With information like this I began to wonder, how can we as parents help our children have fun being athletic? How we can support and guide them to be healthy, fit and confident leaders.
I firmly believe martial arts is great for all kids and every child should train for at least a year.