Benefits of Training in the Martial Arts

Sure martial arts instructors teach fighting skills but there is so much more to it than that. A true martial artist teaches self-control and respect for others, so many schools have gotten away from this concept because when the average student shows up to take lessons they want to learn how to fight, all of that other stuff just hinders that. So we give the customer what they want. In doing that we are neglecting their needs, our society is falling apart right in front of us and I whole-heartedly believe that we, as martial artists, are in a good position to make a difference.


For many years, school violence has been acknowledged as a common problem in the United States and abroad. Traditional methods of dealing with school bullying such as suspension and expulsion just have not worked because they fail to address the challenges of reducing violent behavior, because they lack the systematic intervention to change the beliefs that support aggression.

There have been studies that prove that martial arts’ training is one method of intervention that may be well suited for changing student’s aggressive behaviors and attitudes toward aggression. I have heard many times parents say, ―How can teaching my kid how to fight change their attitude! They base their information on what they see on television, who wants their kid to get blasted in the face or their arm snapped off while rolling around in a cage. It is important to distinguish the difference from the start between martial arts values, which is characterized by a substantial emphasis on the psychological, spiritual, and non-aggressive aspects of the art, and other sports, which tends to underemphasize these aspects and focuses instead on competition and aggression. Training in martial arts has been associated with a decrease in aggressive thoughts and behavior, whereas other sports training have been associated with an increase in aggressive thoughts.

There are many children in dojos across the country who look up to their martial arts instructor as a parental figure, just as I did. Many times these children don’t have someone at home to teach them how to treat others and how to act when faced with problems, they aren’t home to teach them right from wrong. Recent research has proven that martial arts practice that incorporates physical techniques and exercises with meditation and brief lectures reduces:

  • aggressive behaviors
  • disrupts the anger-cycle
  • solicits the relaxation response
  • reduces anxiety
  • balances the mind

Research also shows that this type of martial arts training leads to more warm-hearted easy-going individuals and increases self-confidence, self-esteem and self-control.

This type of education is not taught in our schools or community organizations, nor is it their responsibility to teach it. But these life skills, if taught to children at a young age, can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of their lives. Martial arts’ training is about a lot more than punching and kicking. It has the potential to be a vehicle for teaching life skills that will make a difference in every area of life.

  • Courtesy
  • Perseverance
  • Humility
  • Honesty
  • Self-Control
  • Loyalty
  • Integrity
  • Courage
  • Sportsmanship

These qualities, along with the understanding of goal-setting, self-discipline, concentration and a positive mental attitude, are what set the traditionalist apart from the rest.


Between 16 and 32 percent of American children are considered clinically obese – that is, they weigh at least 10% more than their peers of the same age and height. And while some obesity is genetic or metabolic (a child with an obese parent has a 50% chance of becoming obese for life; a child with two obese parents has an 80% chance), heredity does not automatically ―condemn‖ a child to a lifetime of obesity; learning healthy eating habits and engaging in enjoyable physical activities can counteract hereditary and metabolic tendencies.

What causes childhood obesity?

Learning healthy eating habits is the first key to a lifetime of physical well-being. According to research, the average teenager eats fat-and-calorie-laden fast food at least twice a week, while only three of ten high school seniors report eating green vegetables nearly every day or more often.

The second key to a healthy life is frequent aerobic exercise. But because most elementary schools don’t offer daily physical education classes and less than a quarter of high school students take daily physical education classes, it remains each family’s responsibility to encourage and foster fun, engaging physical activity on a daily basis. By converting at least half of a child’s sedentary time (watching TV, playing video games, working on a PC) into daily, fun physical activities, the obesity epidemic can be greatly reduced.


One of the strategies experts recommend for reducing childhood obesity (in addition to serving sensible, healthy meals) is to increase daily physical activity. Taking martial arts classes is a great way to do this because with martial arts, the activities don’t feel like chores or laborious exercises. They’re all fun!

As children learn new martial arts skills – how to focus, how to think and act responsibly, how to think like, and evolve into, a life-long champion – they develop an awareness of themselves and others that fosters respect and a sense of independent accomplishment that is hard to match in any other way. With the martial arts belt system (students can test to achieve a new belt approximately every 6 months or so) students remain motivated, encouraged, and positive because they’re always moving forward in measurable and emotionally satisfying ways.

For parents there is very little more satisfying than watching their beaming martial arts student achieve physical dexterity and a passion for daily activity that’s certain to promote a future bright with promise.


Martial Arts programs can fill the void in a family by providing an area where they can all work at and enjoy the same activity of getting in shape, having fun while learning practical self-defense, and practicing life skills for everyday living such as team work, leadership, goal setting, stress relief, and loyalty which ultimately leads to tighter families, better work places, and better communities.

 What families should look for in a martial arts program?

A study by Jim Lantz, PhD conducted in 2002 found the following answers.

 Self-Confidence – Martial arts practice helps improve self-confidence and self-respect.

Physical Vitality – Most children do not get enough exercise, are overweight and need some type of physical activity to promote health and well-being.

Concentration – It is a common belief that martial arts training is especially useful for children who suffer with attention deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD).

Respect – To develop and practice respect for both self and for other people.

Friendship – Martial arts study offers many opportunities for friendships, socialization and community development.

Moral Development – Parents want their children to learn what’s right and wrong.

Training for Life – Martial arts teach life lessons that help a person at work, at school and in other areas of life.

Respect for Life – In the martial arts, it is called the ―great paradox.‖ Referring to the fact that the better you can fight, the better you get at walking away from fights.

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