Self Defence for Children in Coventry
If you're looking for a way to encourage your children to take more physical exercise it's worth considering a martial arts class designed for youngsters. Your child may have already expressed an interest, thanks to popular comic creations such as the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles or your child may be more suited to independent sports rather than team games such as football or rugby.How
How can martial arts benefit your child?
There are a whole range of martial arts disciplines out there, but generally speaking they all encourage those things we as parents often struggle to engender in our children: physical health and agility, discipline and concentration. If your child isn't so suited to team sports martial arts provide a great way for them get some exercise, meet other children and learn valuable skills which will stay with them for life.
With the concept of 'goal attainment' (via the belt system) at the heart of martial arts, the sport provides a useful way for children to focus on moving 'up the ranks' and the sense of satisfaction and self-fulfilment this brings, building a child's self-esteem and confidence along the way.
Martial arts aren't just about physical prowess - the sport is also about training the mind and spirit so children learn skills they can take into other areas of their life, too, such as better concentration and reasoning skills, vital for academic success. And physically martial arts impart invaluable physical skills, such as self-defence, which may help children if they find themselves in a risky situation.
If you're feeling a little uneasy with the fighting system connotations of martial arts, don't worry. Despite the sport's feudal origins, the disciplined, carefully-supervised environment of the 'Dojo' (martial arts training school), combined with an emphasis on using the mind to overcome the opponent rather than gratuitous, brute force, reinforces positive behaviour and self-restraint.
Experts say there are no 'bad' martial arts, just poor instructors, so as long as you're happy the facility you choose for your child's training is professional and experienced, you shouldn't have any cause for concern.
Different forms of martial arts
There are many, many types of martial arts out there - with new ones emerging all the time - but the most widely available, and most suited to children include:
Literally meaning 'empty hand', Karate is one of the most traditional martial arts, in essence an unarmed-combat system, employing kicking, striking and defensive blocking with arms and legs. There is a big emphasis on mental attitude and courtesy. Find out more by contacting the British Karate Federation.
Involving lots of throwing moves, Judo is good for developing all round fitness, strength and balance, as well as posture and stamina. Meaning 'gentle way' in Chinese, Judo today is widely practiced by both sexes (it became a women's Olympic sport in 1992) and adheres to a belt system - white belts are worn by novices and black by masters, with various different colour belts in between.
Judo training can start at any age though children under 8 are not permitted to compete in the sport. Younger children will start their training in the 'Kano Club', learning simple actions and progressing through the Kano certificate and badge ranks. This system allows fast track conversion to the main Judo grade system when children reach 8 years old. Find out more by contacting the British Judo Organisation.
Emphasis in Taekwon-Do is placed on self-defence and development of self-control. Its guiding principles are the '6 Tenets', a sort of doctrine of belief which followers of the sport must adhere to and try to implement into all areas of their day-to-day lives. The belts range from white for novices to black for a Grand Master, with yellow, green, blue and red in between.
Originating in Korea, Taekwon-Do was conceived in 1955 around a series of 24 'patterns' which from the backbone of the UK's recognised training syllabus. Find out more by contacting the British Taekwon-Do Council.
One of the more 'cerebral' of the martial arts, Aikido is a more formal, non-violent martial art which encourages avoidance of confrontation and never uses force to oppose force. It uses movements from the ancient Japanese Samurai tradition and is today an internationally recognised sport, practised by all ages.
Starting at white belt level, children progress through yellow, orange, green, blue and brown belt in the first 'stage' of their learning of the sport (the Kyu grade) before moving onto the various black belt stage of the Dan grade. Find out more by contacting the British Aikido Board.
Kung Fu is perhaps one of the best-known martial arts, and literally means 'achievement through great effort'. It encompasses a group of Chinese martial arts, all of which use a range of punches and kicks on specific pressure points on the opponent's body. Find out more about Kung Fu.
Ju-Jitsu loosely translated means 'gentle art' and is applied to many schools of unarmed and hand-to-hand combat. With an emphasis very much on cultivating mind as well as body, it teaches ways to control one's anger and frustration and the use of force is only allowed in self-defence. Find out more by contacting the British Ju-Jitsu Assocation.
Tang Soo Do
Tang Soo Do is a Korean Martial Art. It's relatively modern style but has its roots in ancient martial arts. It's suitable for children from 4 years upwards, and is a great way to learn self-discipline, self-confidence, physical fitness and stress management. There is a coloured belt system, progressing from white to orange, then to green, brown, red and blue, culminating in blackbelt. As well as learning physical strength and self-worth, Tang Soo Do can have positive effects on a child's concentration, too. Find out more by visiting the UK Tang Soo (Soo Bahk) Do Federation.
The belt system
Learning a martial art involves progressing through different skills levels and attaining the corresponding belt for that level. The type of testing varies from discipline to discipline and schools may have their own approach to evaluating students, but generally speaking children must learn a selection of moves before moving up to the next level. Novices wear a white belt with a black belt denoting 'expert level'.