What can martial arts teach kids about discipline
The martial arts is a system which is designed around and upon a firm foundation of discipline. Indeed, discipline is among the first lessons a student learns when they enroll in a martial arts school. When a student joins a class they enter into a relationship with the instructor which is based firmly on discipline and respect and obedience.
And that is the manner in which they interact with that instructor for the entirety of their time in the martial arts. It is reinforced through routine, ritual and consistency until it becomes nature to the student. This becomes doubly effective with kids because they need discipline and need to learn the value of it as they grow older. This helps them develop maturity and intellect as they understand why it is necessary to interact with their instructor with discipline.
Ultimately what they come to learn is that discipline can and must be applied to themselves, by themselves as well. Indeed that is the entire point of the relationship with the instructor. The instructor guides them through the processes of learning the martial arts and they do so for the safety of their students, their well being, and their ability to execute things successfully.
These are lessons that kids and indeed all students then take with them into the world outside the class. They learn how to apply discipline to themselves and this gives them a firm foundation upon which to build and grow and develop maturely.
Kids are impressionable by nature and they can easily fall prey to negative influences from social media, from school, from other kids, older kids, from music and television and more. And from these they can develop negative habits which then affect their lives, often in ways that become extremely damaging to them and their self image, and sense of self worth.
Take something seemingly as simple as bullying. A child learns to push others around and simply take what they want through force and intimidation. This can negatively affect the bully, and their victims. The bully learns to take these lessons with them into older age and even adulthood. They learn that they can simply force themselves upon others to get what they want. They learn that they don’t have to be accountable for their actions, and worse, they don’t learn the value and presence of empathy in their lives.
They learn to treat others as below them, or less than having value. And this can be extraordinarily damaging to them and everyone they come into contact with.
Consider also the child that becomes the victim. They begin to see their self worth and value as being given or presented by others, and that is terribly damaging to their development. They don’t see themselves as possessing a right of self defense, or a right of feeling safe. This leaves them as prey to others who will take advantage of that. This may result in feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, and more. This then gives way to other damaging behaviors as they try to cope with the problem. They may begin overeating because it gives them a sense of pleasure and well being. But it results in obesity, damaged self worth, and ultimately health issues.
But if both of these kids had been introduced to the martial arts, both kids would develop into the same type of person. They would understand and value empathy for others. They would treat others the way they wanted to be treated. They would learn accountability for their actions, responsibility, and humility. They would learn quickly that they could not push others around and bully them, for they would find themselves on the wrong end of that stick.
So they learn to treat others with respect, and receive respect in return.
And they would learn the value of discipline in their lives.
Discipline would help them face their fears, and develop courage. Discipline would teach them to govern their minds and emotions, and to avoid harmful, and negative influences. It would teach them to value themselves, and see themselves as possessing self worth.
The martial arts would teach them how to endure hardship and how to be mindful of their strengths and weaknesses and to govern themselves with the same respect they offer others around them. It would teach them to overcome their fears, find strength, find wisdom and govern themselves accordingly.
The martial arts would teach them about the value of community and why it is important they discipline themselves so that they can grow, mature, and become a productive part of that community.
We often think of discipline as merely a sense or expression of obedience for some purpose or another. But it is more than that because it allows us to open ourselves up to greater potential within us. It allows us to open ourselves to the possibilities of new worlds and new visions of our own future. A kid disciplines themselves to eat better things and to utilize better habits. A kid learns to be more active and to adopt that discipline into habit. They become more active, then they become competitive, and they begin to succeed, they begin to win and feel great about themselves. They become a good and strong example for others to follow.
One can easily see where this could open up new worlds to a kid, and how much better their quality of life could be by adopting discipline into their life.
That is simply one example of what the martial arts can do for a kid.