Kids Need Karate!

When I was a youngster, we spent a great deal of our free time running and playing in the great outdoors. I couldn’t wait to get off of the school bus, drop my backpack at home and head to the backyard to find most of the neighborhood kids waiting to play. We would play until it was dark and our parents called us inside. During the summer my mom could hardly get me inside to eat lunch because I was so enthralled in our outdoor activities.

Now I must ask….How much of your child’s day is spent engaged in physical activity? If your child is like most children the answer is…”Not a lot!” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation the  average child spends 3 hours a day watching TV.

If you add to that 3 hours, all of the time that he/she spends watching movies, playing video games and using the computer it adds up to an astonishing 5 ½ hours every single day! That doesn’t leave a lot of time for physical activity!

The National Association For Sports And Physical Education (NASPE) indicates that school aged children need, at a minimum, 1 hour of physical activity daily. That doesn’t sound like a lot? The kids are getting that much through recess and gym class …right? Not really! Most school systems only require a student to take Physical Education classes through their 8th grade year. The quantity of physical movement actually occurring during this 30-40 minutes class is questionable and class usually doesn’t take place everyday. What about recess? It is a growing trend these days to decrease or eliminate recess time all together. The younger the student the more frequent the breaks, but once you get to about 5th grade in most schools recess is gone! You also need to think about what activities your child has the option of choosing during these “physical” breaks. Some children are uncomfortable with group sports. Some children who aren’t as physically apt or not as outgoing as others may be choosing to “sit this one out” on a daily basis.

We all know that obesity is a big problem for Americans. Obesity is a result of a “Perfect Storm”. A Perfect Storm comprised of decreased activity (due to advancements in technology and the increased availability of things such as computers, video games and cell phones) and increased caloric intake (due in part to fast food and processed foods). The number of overweight and obese kids has more than doubled over the last 30 years.

I don’t know about you, but 30 years ago we didn’t have the option of sitting around the house talking on our individual cell phones and chatting online while we play a video game. We also did not eat out on a regular basis and mom made the meals not some frozen food company. The bottom line is that we could all use a lifestyle change in order to help prevent obesity and all that comes with it!

The benefits of exercise are endless. It can help you build strong bones and lean muscle. Exercise can also increase your endurance and flexibility. It will strengthen your heart and help boost your overall health. Although, choosing what kind of exercise to do can be a challenge.

BENEFITS OF MARTIAL ARTS

The Martial Arts can provide much more than physical exercise. It helps build confidence and teach goal setting through a structured curriculum and rank system. This keeps the young martial artist reaching higher and higher to climb the ladder all the way to “Black Belt”. Karate and other Martial Arts are not just about learning how to “Kick Butt”. The Arts are about learning how to avoid conflicts and how to manage difficult situations without getting into a fight. This is a skill all kids should have in today’s “Bully “ ridden society.

Another added benefit of studying the Martial Arts is improved concentration and focus. In Karate you are required to learn very specific techniques and movements. The attention to detail that is required has been known to be carried into other aspects of the students life such as schoolwork and home life. The Martial Arts come from many different countries such as Japan, China and the Philippines to name a few. In addition to the physical movements, students learn how to count in a foreign language and many foreign words. They will also learn about a foreign history and culture. .

Of course your child will learn discipline and respect in the proper dojo (school) setting. They will also come home with more self confidence and self esteem as well as a sense of responsibility and accomplishment that comes with climbing the ranks. Some students also speak of the stress reduction that they have found with Karate. Performing the breathing techniques and Kata can have quite a calming effect and the intense workout can help release nervous and excess energy.

In conclusion, the benefits to studying Martial Arts are numerous. The positive and long term lessons that the student receives can be carried over into their lives for years to come.

Written By Nancy Topp

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