July 23, 2024



Benefits of Martial Arts Training for Children by KJN Dr. Ronald W. Stone

Benefits of Martial Arts Training for Children by KJN Dr. Ronald W. Stone

Many parents today have marked misconceptions about the role of the martial arts in childhood education. Some parents see the Martial Arts as necessary only if their child is being bullied and need a way to teach him or her self-defense.

Others view the martial art instructors as some sort of glorified baby sitter to watch over their children because they take a break from it all.

Some parents see the martial arts as if they were all practicing for an MMA octagon and creating aggressive thugs.


1) The first benefit that comes to mind is that of creating a healthier body. Anyone who has taught for more than two decades will tell you that the children of today are nowhere as flexible, athletic, or as strong as the children of prior years. Obesity is the number one medical problem in the United States today and childhood obesity sadly is on the rise. It is not unusual toady to see elementary school aged kids who are physically incapable of bending over to touch their toes or to do even twenty pushups or sit ups.

The martial arts are all about promoting a conditioned body including aerobic and anaerobic capability, core training and the ability to stretch one’s body. Instead of merely jogging, or doing yoga style exercises, or weight lifting a true martial arts program covers all aspects of building a stronger and more healthy body. Even things like nutrition and meditation are stressed in many of the traditional schools

2) Any legitimate martial arts instructor will include the basic ethical and moral tenents of the arts into the class structure. Concepts like honesty, integrity, humility, perseverance, respect for those of higher rank or age, and self-respect and dignity are essential to a true martial artist being.

Sadly, as instructors we see far too much rudeness, self-centeredness, and socially unacceptable behavior in the children of today’s society. In my day, a child would never presume to interrupt a conversation among adults or to make unreasonable demands of them while in a class. Today this seems to be the norm as there seems to be no corrective behavior issued by many of the parents. The first thing the martial arts teaches is discipline, taught without corporal punishment. It is demonstrated in everything from bowing to a higher rank, to being silent during instruction, to being challenged for any violations of school rules.

3) The martial arts teach children (and adults) self-confidence and pride. I can relate this to a personal experience. I started Taekwondo in college where I was taught to use my hand in a variation of ways. When I broke my first wooden board, I felt like I had conquered the world. Subconsciously I felt that if I could break such a hard object with mind and body then something as simple as a college test should present little obstacle. I did better in school from that point onward.

4) Interaction with other children. The martial arts get kids off their laptops, phones, and places them in an interactive reality of exercise and instruction with other children of similar age. All backgrounds, races and religions are welcome in the dojang, and such physical interaction makes kids less judgmental and helps them overcome such things as racism, antisemitism etc. Instead of creating aggressive bullies the martial arts quite to the contrary though interaction make kids realize there is always someone better, faster, or stronger and that this can be overcome by doing the best one can and not by judging or “putting down” fellow classmates. Such negative behavior as bullying goes against the creed of all true martial arts schools.

It goes without saying that the martial arts can help a child in need of self-defense, but on a personal note in over 53 years in the arts I have eluded far more conflicts and threats with the nonphysical violence control tactics and self-assurance demonstrations than I ever had using force.

About the author: R.W. Stone is currently a practicing veterinarian in Central Florida. He is an avid equestrian, a master ranked martial artist, a best-selling western author, and a firearms enthusiast. After joining a martial arts school in 1970 Stone started studying Yudo with a Korean grandmaster. He eventually became a member of the Judo team of the University of Illinois. It was at the University that a Korean classmate and friend introduced him to Tae Kwon do. After graduating veterinary college, he found the martial arts becoming too sports oriented and eventually after moving from Miami to Central Florida he sought out a Hapkido grandmaster. Currently Stone is ranked 8th dan in Haemukwan Hapkido, 4th dan in Daehan Yudo and a second dan in Kukki Taekwondo. He is the Hapkido instructor at the American Dragon Martial Arts Academies.

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