We can all agree that 2020 was a year unlike anything most of us have ever experienced.
As the pandemic transformed from a temporary inconvenience into a global crisis, our need for human interaction was challenged. Long periods of quarantine and a whole lot of social distancing brought about unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety for both adults and children.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic was anything but positive. The world experienced devastating losses of life and a severe degree of suffering. Yet, we must also acknowledge the resiliency of our industry, as it quickly adapted and found ways to teach virtually.
Though our world was rocked, the martial arts industry didn’t fold under the pressure.
During COVID-19, team sports were pretty much non-existent. As a result, hundreds of thousands of children were no longer physically active…which means that many parents turned to martial arts. Because of the pandemic, many individuals (particularly children) have been exposed to the martial arts that otherwise may have never been.
For restless athletes and their families, the physical benefits of learning martial arts became glaringly obvious – not only could fitness be maintained, but learning self-defense was just the icing on the cake.
Sounds great, huh? Here’s where things get a little nerve-racking – in case you haven’t noticed, the pandemic is slowly loosening its jaws on society. But as more of the population gets vaccinated and restrictions on team sports and other activities are being lifted, we must do everything we can to keep these new students and their families excited about martial arts.
Unless we educate students and parents on the non-physical benefits of martial arts training, we stand to lose these new students to their previous activities. So, what are some of the mental and social advantages you need to be talking to your students and parents about? Here are a few to get your conversations rolling:
1.) Self Esteem
There’s no denying that you can achieve a sense of accomplishment through team sports…but the fact that they are team sports limits a child’s ability to experience the feeling that comes with accomplishing a goal. A child might be the best player on the team, but if they are surrounded by others with less talent and drive, the team may suffer defeat after defeat. Whereas in martial arts, the individual is empowered to achieve individual accomplishment.
What ultimately makes martial arts so different from other sports is the belt ranking system. Each belt level represents improvement, acquired knowledge, and new skills. Not to mention the excitement of looking forward to the challenge of the next level. This structure teaches kids that by breaking down big challenges into smaller segments, great things can be accomplished.
2.) There Are No Benchwarmers
Let’s reverse that scenario we just talked about. Suppose a child is on a very talented team that achieves great success, racking up win after win. But the child is not one of the more talented athletes. What happens? You guessed it – they sit on the bench. Well, we have good news – there are no bench warmers in the martial arts. That means each student gets the full athletic experience, never wasting any time sitting on the sidelines.
3.) It’s a Physical Workout AND a Mental Workout
It’s pretty obvious that the martial arts are perfect for increasing your athleticism and keeping active. But practicing martial arts isn’t just good for your body, it keeps your brain in shape too.
We all remember the mental focus and memory required to learn a new kata, properly perform a technique, or memorize a new language as we learn to count in Japanese or Korean! These “mental workouts” (AKA mastering the skill of concentrating under pressure) have proven to translate to better grades in school!
Kids today face all sorts of temptations – from peer pressure, to bullying, to drugs and violence. Martial arts training fosters self-discipline, which will improve a child’s ability to control their emotions and impulses.
Not buying it? Studies have shown that kids who practice martial arts have improved social skills, make better grades, and persevere when the going gets tough.
5.) Martial Arts Helps Fights Depression
One of the biggest struggles plaguing the population right now is depression. Rates of depression have taken a turn for the worse due to months and months of isolation, particularly for young people. An article by Forbes cited a CDC survey, revealing that during the pandemic, “63% of young people are suffering significant symptoms of anxiety or depression.”
Martial arts fosters a “tribe” mentality, where members are all part of a family. In no time in recent history has the need for community been more important to our world than right now. Martial arts’ ability to bring people together is one of the most beneficial attributes of the sport. Of all the advantages martial arts provides, this aspect should be emphasized first and foremost.
These 5 points are just a few of the many non-physical benefits of martial arts training. The key right now is to keep parents excited about their child’s participation in martial arts. Now that other activities are finally up and running again, we have to remember to not only teach these things in class on a daily basis, but to engage with parents regularly in order to have these crucial discussions! Soccer, baseball, and football are all great activities…but when it comes to modern-day benefits, none compare to martial arts. Oh, and by the way, try comparing the cost to the value received!