It is estimated that 50 percent of karate practitioners are children. So at what age should a parent think about getting their child involved in karate? According to sports-medicine guidelines, it is not recommended that children under the age of (8) eight engage in a sport that involves contact or collision between participants. Even more recent research suggests that children under 14 years of age should not be involved in contact sports, as they lack the cognitive ability to anticipate, react and protect themselves from injury.
While karate training does not initially involve “contact or collisions” this doesn’t mean there isn’t the possibility. Even if you choose to ignore the physical development issues of the child (shame on you) there are still cognitive issues. Honestly, children under the age of eight, generally speaking, do not have the discipline or attention span necessary to learn and practice karate. Yes, I understand the parents are just looking for someone give to tire the kids out and give them a break before taking their children home! However, Children that are involved in karate (martial arts) training before the age of eight have little concept of the core concepts karate teaches, respect, self-esteem, control, focus and body-awareness. Before eight years old, the children should be learning these concepts from their parents, because if they are not, then no amount of Karate instruction will substitute a good home life! That being said and regardless of all these facts; ultimately the decision lies with the child’s parent.
Despite all of the negative statements just made; karate is great for kids! With one catch. The catch is this; one of the parents must participate with the child. You heard right. Oh yes, you will find a thousand karate schools and clubs more then willing to take your child without you. They want your money. We understand that the vast majority of parents will send their children elsewhere before they will participate, good! You are confused, this is understandable, but there is a very good reason for this position. Karate is more then a physical activity of punching, kicking and yelling, much more. Karate is about the self, self-respect, self-esteem, self-control. Unfortunately we must learn respect for others before we can respect ourselves. Have esteem for another before we have our own. See someone with self-control before we learn self-control. These lessons are not easily learned. These are lessons that take time and mentoring. The mentors role is paramount to the successful development of the child’s self. There are questions to answer, lessons to explain and reinforcement to be given. These are not things that a stranger should provide. If they do, that is who the child will look to, will respect, will obey. That person should be the child’s parent, only they truly have the child’s best interest at heart. Only by example of their parents can children attain these lessons.
Hopefully you now see the light. Karate is a great activity for children. They learn about body movements and body mechanics two important concepts that help children gain an awareness of their body and learn how to coordinate movement. Karate uses a lot of energy in a positive, controlled, constructive way. Karate is a competition with yourself. This is especially important for children that shy from the pressures of group activities. This is not say that karate is not competitive, it can be, but the extent of that competitiveness is controlled by the individual, the child. You must learn to compete with yourself before facing an opponent. The physical aspects of karate or any activity have a positive impact on the child’s growing body and mind. There is a certain clarity that comes from demanding physical activity. Karate teaches children how to listen, learn, socialize, win and lose with dignity, skills they will keep forever. Of course, everything mentioned hinges on having the right instructor, the right club, the Willington Karate Club!
See you at the Gym!