Andrew Harmon



Kids, Martial Arts, and Self-Defense

By David Talburt

Parents instinctively know that the safety of their children is under constant threat. More kids than ever before are abducted and victimized by predators each day. Plus, playground bullies, older children, and others prey upon the young, thinking them defenseless. By enrolling your child into martial arts classes, you can equip them with the skills to ward off an attack or evade it altogether.

In this article, I'll describe how learning karate, judo, kung-fu, and other styles can help your child feel more confident, approach potentially threatening situations thoughtfully, and ultimately preserve his or her safety. While most parents would prefer not to think about their children needing to defend themselves against others, it is very real possibility.

A Persistent Threat

Long ago, children were seldom victimized or abducted; and it was practically unimaginable in small towns. Times have changed. In 2002, over 58,000 children were kidnapped by non-family members. What's more, the number of cases reported in communities with sparse populations has escalated. In effect, every child, regardless of location, is susceptible to the threat of predators.

Young kids are also vulnerable to older children. They can easily and without reasonable justification and become victims of bullying or physical abuse. Sometimes, the circumstances can swing wildly out of control, leading to injury or worse. Parents are understandably concerned and are becoming increasingly aware that they need to take preventative measures.

Kids' Self-Defense Through Martial Arts

Kids martial arts classes are not designed to train children to fight. Instead, they focus on developing a number of mental and physical skills that provide lifelong value. Kids learn to concentrate more effectively and think more clearly. They also learn the value of respect and emotional restraint. The training will also include self-defense strategies that your child can use to ward off threats.

One of the most important elements in kids martial arts classes (in the context of self-defense) is the ability to disengage from situations that might lead to violent confrontation. In many cases, a child can find himself embroiled in circumstances that could have otherwise been avoided. Learning the martial arts can help a child identify and avoid those circumstances.

Martial Arts for Kids

Parents have a number of martial arts styles from which they can choose. Some styles, like karate, are more aggressive than others. For example, aikido focuses on techniques that help students disable an attacker without actually fighting them. It emphasizes throwing moves rather than striking. On the other hand, karate and kung-fu involve a number of striking tactics; both approach self-defense from a far more aggressive perspective. Judo, like aikido, stresses the development of physical and mental control; the style involves very few striking moves.

Finding A Dojo

Parents who are interested in exploring martial arts classes for their child should visit a few training facilities in their area. They should speak with the instructors and ask about each dojo's respective philosophy. They should also observe a few classes to become familiar with each instructor's training style. For example, one instructor might emphasize aggression while another stresses mental and emotional refinement. The style you and your child choose should be consistent with your values and goals.

Protecting Their Safety

In the end, your child needs to develop the necessary physical and mental discipline to help ensure their safety. That includes learning techniques of self-defense. It also involves learning how to approach potentially hostile circumstances thoughtfully with the goal of either diffusing or avoiding them. Kids martial arts classes are designed to train young people to develop these skills. If their safety is threatened, they should have the training and discipline to respond in the best possible manner



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