Whether they saw it on the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, on the Power Rangers, or on Yu Gi Oh, children today have been exposed to martial arts from an early age.
From karate to kung fu, martial arts provide a powerful workout, but some parents worry that these sports are too violent for children.
While it is true that martial arts originated as fighting systems in Asia, today’s martial arts provide children with physical exercise, a chance to gain self confidence, an opportunity to interact with others, and worthwhile lessons in self defence.
For children of all ages, martial arts are an exciting alternative to more traditional sports.
Aikido is a traditional Japanese discipline that seeks to provide self defence by using an attacker’s movements against him/her.
Translated as “way of harmony,” this martial art places great emphasis on motions such as pushing and throwing attackers away.
Though aikido is the martial art least focused on competitions, if your child shows an interest in learning more about aikido, the British Aikido Association is a good starting point.
Perhaps the most well known martial art, karate is another Japanese discipline used for self defence.
In addition to throws and blocks, karate also incorporates punches and kicks as well as weapons. Karate competitions take place at all levels across the UK, and more information can be found from the British Karate Association.
Another well known martial art, kung fu originated in China and can be roughly translated to mean “well done.” Kung fu actually incorporates many traditionally Chinese fighting arts, all of which incorporate punches and kicks to particular pressure points on an assailant or opponent’s body.
Kung fu is a part of the famed Shaolin Temple’s fighting styles, and more information on kung fu tournaments and teachers in the UK can be obtained from the National Academy of Martial Arts.
A Japanese term meaning “gentle way,” judo is also arguably the safest form of martial arts for children to study. Based on moves similar to wrestling, judo is a martial art primarily focused on competition.
Points are awarded to competitors based on techniques, pins, and overall opponent control.
During judo competitions opponents are often in close physical contact, so children interested in judo should be made aware that this is a demanding and at times intimate discipline.
The British Judo Association is a great resource for parents and children interested in learning more about judo in the UK.
One of the oldest styles of martial arts, jujitsu is a Japanese discipline that involves sparring and incorporates multiple weapons. Jujitsu clubs and competitions exist across the UK, and more information can be found from the British Ju-Jitsu Association.
Tae Kwon Do
“Tae kwon do” is a Korean phrase meaning “the way of the foot and fist.” Tae kwon do is often considered the world’s most popular martial art, and it incorporates striking and high kicks to score points against opponents.
This is a highly competitive international sport, and both the United Kingdom Tae Kwon Do Association and the British United Tae Kwon Do Federation offer information on tae kwon do classes and competitions in the UK.
No matter in which martial arts your children become interested, all martial arts build confidence, encourage self control, motivate self esteem, and teach self defence.
Martial arts are also incredibly safe when taught in an appropriate school, and all qualified instructors will be more than happy to share their qualifications and training philosophies.
Finding the right school for your child could well be the first step to a long love affair with martial arts.