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  • Nigel Law

Tetsudo offers more benefits than just a coloured belt


Physical, Mental, and Social Benefits

For people new to the martial arts, the benefits of martial arts training might not be obvious. Some will think, sure, it's a great workout and good for self-defense, with all that punching and kicking.

But the benefits of martial arts training, especially for children and teenagers, are much more than simple physical improvements.

The benefits of a martial art span a spectrum of physical, mental, and social attributes; all of which are learned and improved through martial arts training.

Physical benefits include the following: · Physical fitness · Personal security

Mental benefits include the following: · Learning abilities · Goal setting · Discipline

Social benefits include the following: · Camaraderie · Self-esteem · Respect · Calming

Naturally, these benefits also apply to most adults as well. However, developing these attributes early in life contributes to a healthy, happy adulthood. That's why it's even more important to get those kids kicking.

Cardio, Strength, Balance

Martial arts, taken as pure exercise will develop cardiovascular fitness as well as muscular strength. Martial artists also enjoy a heightened sense of balance, as well as learning specific skills to avoid injury, it helps you to understand your body, it helps you understand what is good and bad pain, what is causing you injury and what is building you strength.

The benefits of physical fitness for children are well-documented, physically active children have fewer chronic health problems than kids who are sedentary. Regardless of which martial art your child may study, moving the body in martial arts techniques is great exercise. Martial arts classes exercise all joints and muscle groups. Classes usually begin with warm ups, then stretching, followed by intense exercise and a subsequent cool down. Regular training causes incremental improvements in fitness.

Non-Virtual Fighter

With all the virtual things to do these days, getting Children to embrace a physical fitness regimen is often hard work. Often children would rather spend their time sitting in front of the TV exercising their thumbs at PlayStation, or risking carpal tunnel on instant messaging, than working up a good sweat. In martial arts classes, they're acquiring useful skills while exercising, and the novelty of learning something from an exotic culture often holds their attention.

Personal Security and Self-Defense

Martial arts are perhaps best known for increasing one's fighting ability. After all, that's what we see in the movies and on television: the good-guy martial artist kicking and beating some bad guy. However, these skills for personal security aren't just used for fighting. "I do this so I don't have to fight..." For Children and Teenagers who are preyed upon by bullies, or live in areas where street violence is common, the ability to defend themselves allows them peace of mind. In almost all cases, they never have to use their martial arts techniques on someone. Their increased awareness and presence deters violence.

To Win Without Fighting is Best

For example, basic martial arts training always involves learning how to avoid physical damage in a confrontation--whether by blocking a punch, evading a strike by moving out of the way, or blocking the incoming limb before it can reach full-speed. Often, trained martial artists don't need to harm their opponent--their skill at evading attacks lets them be in control, and frustrates their attacker.

Martial arts’ training also involves awareness of how attacks occur. In training to spar, students learn how to detect the beginning of an incoming punch or kick: the subtle weight shift to a support leg, or a change in focus in their opponent's gaze. Translate such awareness to the street and they learn to size up a potential opponent, and decide the best countermeasures; perhaps it's better to cross the street before you pass that shady-looking character!

Learning Abilities

Martial arts’ training doesn’t just improve physical attributes. One of the more renowned benefits of martial arts training is the mental workout.

Learning to execute the complex and foreign techniques of martial arts requires extreme mental focus and coordination. Students need to concentrate under pressure, ensuring that a technique is executed crisply and correctly. Students often find this focus is applicable to academic studies as well, improving concentration and focus, even under stress in school and college examinations.

Martial arts’ training also requires extensive memorisation of terms and techniques. Kedh or pre-arranged sequences of techniques must be memorised--not only to replicate each technique in the proper sequence, but also with correct execution and with an understanding of its implementation in combat.

To aid the learning the repetition of techniques is paramount it creates a students' muscle memory. The instructions and actions are repeated over and over leading to memorisation these techniques are regularly observed monitored and tested i.e. the grading system learning martial arts: is learning made fun.

Goal Setting

Many martial arts divide the various stages of ability into grades. The grades are denoted by coloured belts, ranging from the white belt of a new beginner to the black belt of a senior student

Advancing One Step at a Time

The requirements for each belt level are defined in detail and represent incremental improvement in that martial art. Successive belt ranks require more difficult and comprehensive knowledge, and represent new challenges to overcome.

Children learn to take on new learning in chunks; by dividing up all the knowledge needed to master a martial art into sections, they can take on each section as they become able. Upon passing the tests required to receive the next level, they can look forward to the next belt level, and so on.

Learning to tackle complex and comprehensive bodies of knowledge by breaking them down into smaller portions is a skill that can help outside the martial arts as well, whether it's learning a physical activity or a more academic subject.

Discipline

The regimented nature of martial arts instruction fosters a deep sense of self-discipline in students. One can't become a true black belt overnight, and so students learn that their worthy goals will require patience, hard work, and dedicated study over several years. The message is that if it's worth anything, it's worth working hard for.

Martial arts’ training has become popular for children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) because of the training moderates some ADD traits. Martial arts training teach students self-control and concentration, in order to perform a technique correctly, students must focus intensely on their task. Furthermore, the self-confidence gained through martial arts training lets ADD kids feel able and "normal", not burdened by the stigma of being labelled.

Discipline, to many people is all about doing what you must do even when you don't want to do it. Martial arts training instils such discipline by showing a path of rewards for hard work, and the benefits of doing that little extra. Camaraderie

Martial arts students feel a strong sense of camaraderie with their fellow students. This feeling of fellowship is based primarily on shared experiences and overcoming challenges, but is also based in tradition

In historical times, instructors taught the martial arts only to those students the instructors deemed worthy, prospective students would often have to perform menial labour or perform the most basic techniques for hours--showing that they were humble, patient, and honest. Today, most students don't need to undergo these tests before they can start training, but the sense that the martial arts are special, and learning martial arts is a special privilege, remains Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is largely based on a student's self-worth; if students feel capable, able, and confident, then they enjoy a healthy self-esteem. Martial arts’ training builds self-esteem by providing small challenges that build incremental successes. Students learn that they can overcome the challenges as they improve in their training

Many martial artists say that before they began training, they were amazed by the seemingly superhuman feats that their instructors or senior students were able to perform. Yet after just a few months of study, they progress to a level where they too can do things they would have thought impossible. Challenges: like breaking a board are surpassed and students feel a surge of pride in themselves and their abilities. As a result, they feel capable and alive

Also, the physical security provided by martial arts training builds confidence: students do not have to worry any longer about the bully at school. This confidence enables students to feel better about themselves and their reactions to conflict

Respect

One thing newcomers to the martial arts notice immediately when visiting a school for the first time is the numerous expressions of respect. "There's all that bowing," they might remark. Showing respect is intrinsic to the martial arts, and is a core facet of the cultures from which many martial arts originate

Students show respect to each other, and their instructor. Sometimes it's a simple bow, in other styles it's a salute of some kind. The gesture encompasses several messages: gratitude, for the learning the student receives, and respect, an acknowledgement of the other person's abilities

Regardless of the ritual, almost all martial arts teach students to value age, rank, expertise, and experience. Respecting those who know more than you do (greater expertise), and have proven it (higher rank) shows that you are worthy of them teaching you their knowledge. This respect for instructors and senior students can often carry over to classes in regular schools as well Calming and Stress Reduction

The martial arts are very calming: a trait that may seem contradictory to those who just see the martial arts as violence. Most senior martial artists are the coolest, calmest characters around

Work It Out

Martial arts classes, because of their intense workouts, allow students to release nervous energy until they are drained from the exertion. Working up a good sweat has always been a great way to diffuse anger. Adding punches and kicks, especially against a heavy bag or foam shield, is even better

Shout It Out

Martial arts use a ritual shout, known as a kiai made at the moment of attack. While the shout is meant to improve one's focus and breathing when delivering a technique, or to startle and frighten an opponent, it also serves to release the student's tension and nervous energy

Many martial arts include meditation and relaxation as part of the curriculum. Meditation, or training the mind to achieve a calmer, empty state, allows martial artists to relax fully

Experienced martial artists exhibit calmness outside of the training hall as well. This inner peace is due to several factors, but is probably a result of experiencing stressful situations when learning self-defense or sparring, and overcoming them. The confidence gained through mastery of martial arts techniques also lends itself to keeping calm in stressful situations

Finally

Teaching children is an honour; they are young adults, and our future. Martial arts can and will teach them life lessons. They will quickly learn that to achieve great things in life, you need to work hard ... have strong self discipline... and high self esteem.... this is what we teach and encourage

So... is it the belt that’s really important?

Or the journey... and the lessons you learn along the way?


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