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Taekwondo (TKD) is a very popular option among kids as their first introduction into the world of martial arts, and combat sports in general. But if you have kids, have you actually wondered why Taekwondo is good for kids? What are the key benefits?
Taekwondo improves strength, balance, and flexibility, resulting in better posture, physical growth, and agility in children. But, more importantly, Taekwondo teaches children discipline, respect, and hard work, all of which help them become better people.
If you are a parent considering enrolling your kid in Taekwondo, be sure to read this article. We will bust some of the biggest myths, bring you closer to the benefits of Taekwondo, and explain why your kid should at least try it. Let’s dive right in.
What Makes Taekwondo the Best Martial Art for Kids?
Taekwondo is a full-body workout that has many physical and mental benefits. Training consists of exercises that improve upper and lower body strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. This is crucial when it comes to physical development, growth, and building personality.
Kids’ classes are less intense, and the structure of the training is adapted to their age and physical abilities. Young kids mostly learn prearranged forms, also known as “poomsae,” where they punch, kick, and move in a specific way to learn proper form and position. Children under ten should never engage in hard sparring, only soft live drills.
Training is broken down into simple movements that do not require physical strength or athleticism. Or, in other words, any kid, regardless of talent, can master all the basic aspects of Taekwondo.
But apart from martial art techniques, Taekwondo is all about teamwork, respect, discipline, and learning how to set and achieve goals. This will have a positive impact on children’s lives outside the gym, too. It positively changes the way they approach school or other obligations outside of training.
What Does Taekwondo Teach?
Taekwondo is a stand-up martial art that combines hand strikes with advanced kicking techniques. The system is rooted in self-defense, but modern practice emphasizes competition over real fighting.
As a concept, Taekwondo is a mix of punches and kicks, with an emphasis on kicking techniques. During training, students learn to properly execute dozens of different jumps, spins, and kicks. They also practice different stances, blocks, and, in some styles, elbow and knee strikes, and how to mix them all together.
Though this may sound dangerous from a parent’s perspective, TKD instructors are trained professionals who teach these moves safely to kids.
In training, students learn a lot of poomsae, which are sets of prearranged offensive and defensive combinations they practice alone without a training partner. Senior students also do a lot of sparring, where they simulate a Taekwondo match against a training partner. Sparring can be light or hard, but everyone must wear protective gear to avoid getting hurt.
There are different styles of taekwondo that come from other types of taekwondo organizations. However, they all teach the same techniques, with the only difference being the emphasis. For example, some organizations focus on competition, while traditional organizations emphasize self-defense. The three main styles are:
Benefits of Taekwondo for Kids
Taekwondo has many benefits and here is a list of some of the key ones:
Having a strong belief in yourself and being confident is one of those skills you want to develop as early in life as possible. Through hard training, pushing their minds and bodies all the time, and breaking boundaries, kids learn a lot about themselves and how strong they actually are. Over time, this will improve their mental resistance and enable them to approach life with more confidence and self-belief.
Discipline and respect
This is probably the most important aspect when it comes to Taekwondo training. As a Korean martial art deeply rooted in discipline, honor, and respect, Taekwondo instructors put a lot of emphasis on passing these values down to the younger generation.
In fact, growing up into a person with good values and manners and overcoming oneself through martial arts practice is the whole point of the journey.
In each class, kids would have to show respect to their teachers and other students, stay focused and concentrated and obey orders.
Improves socialization and communicative skills
Enrolling your kid in taekwondo is a great way for them to socialize and improve their communication skills. They will train in a group and interact with at least 15–20 other kids in each training session. The class is about teamwork and helping each other learn techniques in a judgment-free environment.
While doing different exercises, they will constantly switch training partners, talk with other kids, and sometimes, get into an argument. But this is where a coach’s role and ability to teach both sides how to respect one another and solve all issues through a positive attitude and communication comes into play.
As a result of their taekwondo training, your child will have a much easier time socializing in school, adjusting to a new neighborhood, and solving all problems through communication.
Improves flexibility and balance
Taekwondo practitioners are among the most flexible people on the planet for one simple reason: The TKD system emphasizes kicking techniques, and you need a high level of flexibility to perform with proper motion and technique. Thus, students spend at least 15–20 minutes before and after each class doing stretching exercises, plus one more session at home.
With a bit of consistency, your kid will be able to do full split-ups after a couple of months of training, and that’s something they are going to brag about over and over again.
Improves physical strength and stamina
Taekwondo is a full-body workout that activates and improves every single muscle group in your body. Throwing hundreds of kicks and punches per class will increase their overall strength and aid in the development of an ideal balance of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers.
Or, in other words, they will be strong, powerful, and explosive. But at the same time, they’ll improve their stamina to perform over an extended period of time. On top of that, training involves different bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats, etc.
What are the downsides of taekwondo?
Though Taekwondo has many benefits, there are also some downsides you should take into consideration, such as:
Kids below 10 years old are not allowed to spar in most Taekwondo schools. These young kids can only do live drills with a partner, while nine-year-olds might do some light contact sparring but must wear full protective gear, of course. So you don’t have to worry about serious injuries like concussions or other head or facial injuries.
However, bruises, muscle strains, or joint dislocations are quite common. But on the other side, the rate of injuries is not higher than in other sports that most people consider safer, such as soccer or football. In fact, these two might be worse than Taekwondo.
False sense of security
This is one of the biggest concerns with kids attending martial arts classes. Giving a 10-year-old a black belt rank and making them train alongside adults who are physically bigger and more skilled might improve their progress. But at the same time, it also might give them a false sense of security that they have the skills to confront anyone on the street.
Practicing techniques in a controlled environment and trying to apply them in real life are two different things.
Takes a lot of time to learn
Taekwondo is a complex system that includes dozens of different techniques and combinations. As a result, it takes many years for a student to reach a high level of proficiency. On the other hand, a dedicated, consistent student with average talent can expect to reach the black belt rank in no less than four years.
Too much focus on sports and not self-defense
Though rooted in self-defense, modern Taekwondo focuses too much on competition. The emphasis of most schools is to train you to win matches under strict rules and, with that, improve the reputation of their gym. Students rarely, almost never, do any advanced self-defense drills.
What’s the Best Age to Start Taekwondo for Kids?
Taekwondo has no age limits, but there is an unwritten rule that kids under three years old should not enroll in martial arts training. This is because their bodies are not developed enough in terms of strength, balance, coordination, etc.
So what is the right age to start Taekwondo? This is an individual question and truly depends on the personal preference of every child. Kids as young as four years of age might have a lot of fun playing on the mats, while some other kids might only get interested in it at the age of eight, for example.
Overall, there is no such thing as an “ideal” age for enrolling in Taekwondo, especially when it comes to kids. They only care about having fun, meeting new friends, smiling, burning a lot of energy, and having something to be proud of.
The learning syllabus is adapted to specific kids’ age groups. This makes training safe, playful, and, of course, productive in terms of learning skills and adopting strong values. As a parent, you want to be supportive and patient, and you want to give your child enough space to explore their interests.
How safe is Taekwondo for kids?
Taekwondo is safe for kids and doesn’t pose more risk to their health than other sports most people consider safer, such as soccer and football. This is because Taekwondo is adaptable and flexible, and the training structure consists of exercises that won’t put a lot of stress on their bodies and cause injuries. But, of course, bruises, strains, and soreness are common, not just in Taekwondo but in other sports as well.
In most TKD schools, children under 10 do not spar and hit each other. Instead, they might do live drills where they would “hit,” or better to say “very light contact,” each other just to practice the practical application of the technique, but nothing more than that.
Safety is the number one priority in every good Taekwondo school. Therefore, students are required to wear full-body protective gear each time they do activities that might lead to injuries. The gear consists of the following:
- Shin guards
- Forearm guards
- Chest protector
However, Taekwondo becomes more dangerous if you move to the competition. Studies have shown that the injury rate was 58.34 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures, which is relatively high. The most common ones are foot and leg injuries, sprains and strains, neck and back pain, and knee injuries.
Is Taekwondo Good for Kids Who Have Anger Issues?
First, training hard 3–5 times a week for 90 minutes is a great way to sublimate anger into another outlet. Instead of sitting at home and accumulating stress, children will get rid of negative emotions through intense workouts, sweat, socialization with other students, and strict discipline.
Next, science has shown that intense workouts cause our brains to release various “happy” chemicals, such as serotonin and endorphin. Both of these hormones are responsible for making us feel happy and relaxed. So as you can see, there is no way kids become angrier after a martial arts class.
Lastly, martial arts training enables them to experience the consequences of violence firsthand. They will learn the power of punches and kicks and the damage these strikes can cause to another person. But, most importantly, they will feel it on their own skin, which completely changes their perception of aggressive behavior.
How to find the best taekwondo school for kids
As a parent, you want to make sure your children train in proper Taekwondo schools that, above all else, prioritize the safety of their students. Therefore, you don’t just choose any random school in your area. Instead, take your time, do a bit of research, and explore the following important factors.
Check the reviews
In this technologically advanced world, you can easily check the reviews of each school online and get valuable information. But since this on its own is not enough, ask other parents or friends about the best taekwondo schools in your area and whether they know someone who trained there. In the martial arts world, word-of-mouth marketing is very powerful.
Quality of the coaching staff
Trusting children in the care of someone else is a big responsibility, and you want that person to be a professional and a master of the coaching craft. Meet the school owners and head instructors in person, and do not shy from asking them about what makes them credible to teach your kid Taekwondo and any concerns you have.
Ask for the free trial classes
Most modern Taekwondo schools offer free trial classes where a kid can experience a full training session. In fact, some gyms offer a trial week, which is even better. It enables the kid to feel the gym atmosphere and explore whether they like the training or not. You can also stay in the class to observe and watch how the instructor behaves, how much attention they devote to each student, etc.
Does the school maintain a high level of hygiene?
If you enter the gym and see dirty mats and gear thrown all over the place and filled with foul odors, search for another school. The lack of hygiene is a huge red flag that the school does not care much about the safety and health of its students, and it is certainly not a place where kids should spend a lot of time.
Dirty mats are known to be breeding grounds for contagious diseases like staph and E. coli. These mats must be cleaned throughout the day to keep kids from getting sick from these viruses. A good ventilation system should also be in the gym. This will help eliminate viruses, bacteria, and allergens in the air.
Even if the gym looks clean, check the bathroom and dressing rooms to make sure everything is clean.
Final Thoughts on Taekwondo for Kids
In this day and age, Taekwondo training is very popular among kids. The structure of training and techniques are adapted to each age group, which makes it safe and playful.
Thus, if your kid is interested in trying Taekwondo, be supportive and give them a chance to try it out. But as a parent, your responsibility is to find a good school, inform yourself about the training, provide them with protective gear, and make sure they are on the right track.
And hopefully, this article helped you break some of the myths and discover all the benefits of Taekwondo for kids.