Children get an Edge in Life with Karate

Children are our future.  It’s important that they learn the values that will help them be a driving force in the lives of others through positive influence and decisions.  Although parents “should” be instilling proper values in their childrens’ lives, the truth is that children are exposed to many other sources that generally go against what their parents are teaching them.

While you as a parent might be teaching your child to share with others, you child is viewing many other children who refuse to share.  Your child then becomes confused and can be easily influenced to mimic the other children who aren’t acting in the manner in which you want your child to act.  Education and role modeling is vital.

Other sources children get exposed to outside of other children and other adults include, television, video games, books, internet, and so on.  One of the greatest ways to get your children to live up to the values you want to see in them is to get other adults and children to emulate those values.  We all want our children to have respect for others, to be kind, to share, to have good manners, to care about others, to get their homework done on time, to do their chores, to listen and follow directions, and so on.

Children learn best through copying what they see – modeling (social learning theory).  Enrolling your child in a good martial arts program is one of the best ways for your child to learn about respect, discipline, self-control, kindness, focus, health and fitness and much more.

I came across an article a friend of mine (5th degree black belt) wrote about children and Karate.  For this blog I decided to share the article with you.  It’s a great article.

–Michael Miller

Here it is:

Children get an edge in life with karate.

By Jonathan VanCleve

Karate lessons for children have steadily increased in popularity since the mid 1980′s. Today, a large segment of the world’s martial arts practitioners are children, but it hasn’t always been that way. With the influence of television and motion pictures the martial arts have gone from being mostly a pastime studied by adults to include children as young as four.

The number of children who study karate is growing each year and this amazing growth is a testament to how well the martial arts positively impacts children’s lives. It is safe to say that children’s karate is not just a fad that will fade away with time but a permanent part of American culture and child development. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day qualified martial arts teachers were given permanent positions in elementary schools because of their uncanny ability to teach and influence children.

Some may wonder how exactly does a martial arts school get such great results from children? Can learning kicking and punching, activities that might be considered bad behavior, help children develop better behavior and increase self-esteem? To answer these questions all we have to do is look at the philosophy of the martial arts and how it’s traditions, exercises and codes of conduct are structured to not only develop the students physical abilities but to shape their character as well.

The power of influence:

Children are very impressionable and they tend to imitate what they see. The people around them influence their behavior. Musicians, actors, neighbors, or even cartoon characters have the power to influence children and these outside influences can be either negative or positive, depending on the message. A person on TV or even their own peers can make it seem cool to smoke cigarettes, use bad language, or do poorly in school and if that is the messages they are getting from people they admire the temptation to go along is very strong.

The influence of a martial arts teacher and fellow students is very positive. In the martial arts things like respect, goal attainment, and physical fitness and enthusiasm are valued. It’s considered cool to be respectful to ones elders and to get good grades. When a child’s role models and peer group are all doing positive things they have a better chance of making good choices when it comes to how they are going to behave and what they want to be like. The influence of the martial arts deeply impacts a child’s behavior and gives them a positive model of respect and self-control.

Learning to believe in your self:

Martial arts schools have very high standards for children regarding behavior and performance. To advance in rank the children are required to meet a set of standards for conduct, attitude, attendance, and performance. As children earn their ranks they are empowered with a sense of accomplishment and an attitude that they can do anything they put their minds to.

Learning new skills and achieving advancements in belt rank translates into better test scores and more completed homework assignments. By earning their ranks they also learn that they have to work hard to make their dreams come true and that they have the power to earn the things they want rather than thinking that things will be handed to them. This is empowerment for life and they are never too young to learn.

Physically fit for life:

Martial arts classes are very good exercise and children need to exercise just as adults do. Children can easily become obese especially when sedentary activities like video games and television are so entertaining and sugar filled foods taste so good. The martial arts stress the importance of physical fitness and good eating habits and high-energy workouts are a big part of the training.

Good eating and exercise habits learned in the martial arts can stay with a child for life and even set the course for their health as an adult. Some kids who are active and have no weight problems today can become overweight in their adolescence so it is important to make physical fitness a way of life at an early age.


A martial arts class consists of lots of punching and kicking but the student is taught to only use their skills only for self-defense. They are taught to refrain from aggressive and negative behaviors and to practice self-control. As they learn to control their actions and attitudes they become capable of responding appropriately to the problems of life.

Bullying has become such a problem that it has been addressed in congress. It’s an unfortunate fact that most kids experience some kind of bullying. Children who study a martial art are poor targets for bullies. When a child knows how to defend himself or herself it is very difficult for a bully to hurt his or her feeling or person, they are not bothered as much by teasing and most bullies wouldn’t try to hit a child they know can fight back, bullies usually leave these kids alone and target a less -confident child who’s feeling are easily hurt and cannot fight back.


In a world where being clever is valued over being kind children in the martial arts are taught self-respect and to respect others. Good martial arts students are unlikely to participate in bullying other kids or being disrespectful to their parents because respect and etiquette is emphasized in all martial arts classes. The martial arts school is one place where disrespect and misbehaving is not allowed. Words like “Yes sir.” And “No ma’am.” Are a regular part of the interaction between the instructor and the student, and the respect isn’t demanded as much as it’s given because of the admiration the kids have for their instructor and that same respectful behavior is soon demonstrated at home and school.

No matter what your reason is for enrolling your child in a martial arts school it’s a great way to teach some very important attitudes and skills that go a long way to giving a child an edge in life while they become self-disciplined and confident young ladies and gentlemen who possess the determination become a success in whatever they do.

Jonathan VanCleve is a 5th degree black belt and a professional martial arts instructor. Jonathan is also a columnist for Ma Success magazine and the manager of Nackord Karate System in King of Prussia Pennsylvania. You can contact him at and