Growing Into the Martial Arts

Here’s an article I wrote for Experts123 a few months ago.  School’s back in full swing, and I’ve been getting to know my new students.  Quite a few are into martial arts, and it reminded me of some of the reasons why I wrote this.

They're clearly excited, but are they really getting everything they need?

Kids all over the country go to karate classes, gear up for wrestling, and watch MMA on TV with their friends.  For many, especially parents, martial arts becomes a series of events: buy a uniform, drive to and from class, spend all weekend at a meet, click “purchase” on the remote control.  Over the last forty years or so, martial arts have gone mainstream and Americans have adopted them into our busy lifestyles.  We have become comfortable with martial arts and they no longer seem exotic.  We have permanently added martial arts to our to-do lists, and they seem to be here to stay.  That’s a good thing.

But what America lacks is a martial arts culture.  Children are often dropped off at a “Tiny Tigers” class for the afternoon in place of the YMCA or grandma’s house.  Tournament trophies are awarded and displayed at home and in training halls.  Kids schedule martial arts around soccer, piano lessons, and birthday parties.  Parents help to juggle scheduled events, and martial arts have their specific, defined place and time within our busy lives.

This outlook–that one “does” martial arts–is limiting.  It robs children of the true benefits.  It keeps them from seeing the great role martial arts can play in their lives.

In Japan, traditional karate is taught in schools.  Children learn and practice respect and discipline early on while training in self-defense.  They understand the appropriate situations to use force and the judgment to avoid needless confrontation.  Thanks to such training, children have a better chance to grow up much more mentally and physically fit than by merely doing exercises or playing sports.

In Brazil, jiu-jitsu is a communal activity.  We see this with BJJ’s first family, the Gracies.  Members explain that growing up Gracie not only means having a lot of family pride, but it means learning to live the martial arts.  It permeates all aspects of their lives, and the values derived–virtue, persistence, honor–are lost outside this context.

Growing up with the martial arts differs greatly from the typical American experience.  Instead of tasks and achievements, someone who truly grows up with the martial arts sees the big picture and understands the long-term benefits.  It’s not a matter of staying busy or winning matches.  It’s not a lifestyle you can advertise on a T-shirt.

Now that many of the Americans to begin training as children are all grown up, they need to share the values of their arts with the new generation of students–not just techniques or how to win competitions.  Kids can and should understand that they can pursue martial arts through old age without feeling pressured to rush workouts so they can move on to the next thing, or, perhaps worse, to lose sight of the joy of practice beyond mere competition.  Martial arts are good in and of themselves, and America needs to learn the many benefits they can play throughout our lives.

Do you have children in martial arts, or did you grow up with them yourself?  How do you allow the martial arts to influence your family life?  Do you have any tips on how to instill the proper martial values at home?

About moaimartialarts

Lucky enough to grow up with the martial arts, I have felt their positive influence throughout my life and am especially interested in sharing these experiences with others. I enjoy working with youth and adults to give back some of what I've received. If you would like to learn more about Uechi-Ryu/Shohei-Ryu Karate, or if you want to find people to train with, please contact me. I am the head karate instructor for the Meriden Martial Arts Club.
This entry was posted in Instruction, Jiu-jitsu, Karate, MMA, Philosophy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Growing Into the Martial Arts

  1. Pingback: The Benefits of Enrolling Your Children in Martial Arts |

  2. Ira says:

    I visit daily some sites and websites to read posts, but this webpage offers quality based posts.

  3. gift bags says:

    I will immediately snatch your rss feed as I can’t find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Kindly permit me realize so that
    I mmay just subscribe. Thanks.

  4. Laverne says:

    I drop a comment each time I like a post on a blog or
    I have something to contribute to the discussion. It’s caused by the fire communicated in the article I browsed.

    And on this article Growing Into the Martial Arts
    | Moai Martial Arts. I was moved enough to create a commenta response
    🙂 I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s okay.
    Is it simply me or does it look like a few of these comments
    appear as if they are coming from brain dead folks?
    😛 And, if you are writing at additional sites, I’d like to follow you.
    Would you make a list all of all your social pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  5. Jessie says:

    Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site,
    how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your
    broadcast offered bright clear concept

  6. I really like what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve included you guys
    to blogroll.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s