Will Martial Art Make My Child More Aggressive?


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Martial arts is one of the most popular forms of exercise. It can also be a great way to learn self-defense techniques. But many parents worry that it could make their children more aggressive. So, is this claim true?  

Learning martial arts won’t make your child more aggressive. It can help them learn techniques to stay calm, even in emotionally charged situations. Teachers also focus on the need to use violence as a last resort. Martial arts tactics can also prove useful for children with ADHD. 

Though it’s unlikely that martial arts will increase aggression, this myth persists. Here are some of the things that prospective parents should know if they are thinking about enrolling their children in a martial arts class. 

How Does Martial Arts Affect Children’s Behavior? 

Like most extra-curricular activities, martial arts will have an impact on a child’s behavior. But to understand how it can affect them, it’s important to look at the principles that are being taught by martial arts instructions. 

One of the key values of martial arts is respect. Children are taught to have respect for their opponents. More importantly, they are taught to have respect for themselves. 

Self-esteem is one of the most important predictors of behavior. A Spanish study tracked over 2,000 students between the age of 12 and 16. They found that those who had a high level of self-respect tended to have better relationships with their parents. They also discovered that they were less likely to act aggressively

Another crucial part of martial arts training is self-control. Martial arts teachers consistently emphasize the need to avoid potential conflicts. Students are taught that violence should only be used as a last resort. Because of this, studies have shown that those who take martial arts are less aggressive than those who take other sports like hockey.  

Another popular reason why martial arts are so popular is that it provides an engaging way to keep children physically fit. Martial art classes promote pushups and other exercises that seek to build physical strength. They also focus on improving the range of movement. This can have several impacts on mental health. For example, physical activity has been linked to an increase in cognitive functioning in children

Should An Aggressive Child Take Martial Arts?

Some parents might struggle with a child that is already showing aggressive tendencies. Often, these individuals can benefit from taking martial arts classes. 

Martial arts can be an effective way of channeling aggressive feelings into a more productive activity. This can be a good way to reduce the risks of a violent outburst. As we mentioned, martial arts can often be used as a technique to teach self-control and develop emotional restraint. These skills can be a valuable way of managing aggression.  

However, these types of students will require a skilled instructor. They must be taught the importance of self-control. The instructor might need to learn how to handle potentially violent outbursts. 

It’s also important to remember that aggressive tendencies are often the result of underlying problems. If these issues aren’t addressed, the violent behaviors will often get worse over time. Alone, martial arts won’t be enough to suppress these actions. The child will require seeing a professional to discuss the issue. Depending on the type of behavior, the child might need additional medical treatment. 

Is Martial Art Good For A Child With ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can have a profound impact on a child’s behavior. It can manifest in a few ways. For example, they might have difficulty focusing on one task for an extended period. In other cases, it might be harder for them to pay attention or they might act impulsively.  

There are a few reasons why martial arts might be preferred to other types of sports for those with ADHD. For example, the tasks will be broken up into smaller chunks. Because of this, it will be easier to maintain focus and make consistent progress. There are also frequent milestones, which makes it easy to measure achievements. 

Martial arts can teach some valuable techniques to help those who have been diagnosed with ADHD. For example, they might be able to learn how to improve concentration. Martial art places a lot of emphasis on the need to focus, particularly when instructions are being given. Those with ADHD might also benefit from having a productive outlet for their excessive energy. 

Though scientists are still studying the connection between ADHD and martial arts. However, there are clinically significant results that it can have a positive effect.  This supports anecdotal evidence from martial arts teachers and parents. 

What Is The Best Age For A Child To Start Martial Arts?

As the evidence mounts that martial arts can teach valuable life skills to children, parents are becoming more interested in enrolling their children. But this has raised some questions about what the right age to get kids interested in martial arts is. 

This can often depend on the child and the type of martial art they are seeking to learn. Often, they will be ready to start basic classes at the age of four. This will let them learn some of the foundational moves. However, they will often need to be between 10 and 13 before they can start serious training. This will ensure that they will be able to cope with working in a group. 

To get more specific advice, parents are advised to talk to the instructors at the martial arts school. 

Regardless of their age, parents should make sure that their children feel comfortable attending martial arts training classes. This ensures that they will be motivated to learn. There are numerous types of martial arts to explore. If they don’t like one branch, parents will be able to take their child to another school. 

What Martial Arts Is Best For My Child?

There are a few types of martial arts that parents will be able to try. Each of these will have programs designed specifically for children. 

First, they might want to explore taekwondo. This form of martial arts places a heavier emphasis on kicking. This can provide a good introduction to many of the techniques associated with martial arts. As an Olympic sport, this will provide lots of opportunities for young people to put their skills to the test. 

Photo by Hong Seung-hui

If children want something more advanced, they can explore kickboxing. This will combine the kicking styles of taekwondo with western boxing styles. This can be an exciting way of putting martial arts skills to the test. However, because it is more complex, it’s recommended for older teenagers. 

Karate is another popular option. This has been brought to prominence recently through television shows like Cobra Kai. There are many branches of Karate, each of them focusing on a slightly different aspect. 

With so many options, children should be encouraged to try multiple forms of martial arts. This will allow them to find the one that appeals the most to them. If they don’t enjoy themselves after a few sessions, they can move to a different style.

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Final Thoughts

Martial arts are a popular pastime, particularly amongst children. Regular sessions can have a range of positive benefits. For example, it can help boost self-esteem and increase emotional control. This has been shown to reduce aggression in children. It can also boost cognition and help kids with ADHD. Because of these advantages, parents should consider encouraging their children to pursue martial arts. 

Jeff J.

Jeff J is a retired Gunnery Sgt. with the United States Marine Corps and a former Federal Police officer. He was involved with extensive training with weapons systems, and hand to hand combat, mentored and trained hundreds of Marines in high-level fitness programs.

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