Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

Being a parent in today’s world can be harder than ever, not only are the choices more than ever but also the financial considerations. What decision should you make with regards to your child in trying to give them the best and most supportive childhood you can.

Recently I was listening to the Sam Harris podcast Episode 137 title safe spaces, in it the guest Jonathan Haidt discuss his new book the codling of the American mind. Though I am loosely paraphrasing (listen to the podcast if you want the actual conversation) what they talked about, they essentially talked about the toxic nature of the helicopter parent of the 90s and early 2000s that led to a generation of unconfident anxiety-ridden individuals with no confidence who struggle to make decisions and explore the world. They also discuss the “new” movement of free-range parenting, which to me shouldn’t be a NEW anything, it should just be good parenting.

To martial artists, the answer has always been clear. Put your kids in martial arts from an early age. No matter what you think about the school system it seems they are increasingly scared to allow children to be physical even in a healthy manner, being too concerned with lawsuits or costs children are no longer getting unstructured play time and good physical activity. So what is a parent to do if they feel their child just is not getting enough of what they need in school? well its simple, find a good reputable martial arts school and enroll them. Of course, my preference is Krav Maga, BJJ but in today’s world, something is better than nothing. While I dont want to be to cliche. Here are 5 reasons you should enroll your kid in martial arts now than later.

Kids BJJ

  1. Build Confidence & Self Esteem – One of the biggest struggles that children have today is building intrinsic self-confidence. Not everyone fits into the cookie cutter models of most schools today and it can be hard to stay motivated and find drive and purpose. Martial arts can give children goals to build themselves up, and I am not talking about participation trophies I am talking about real goals that take work and effort to achieve. If your child works and trains hard they can build their confidence by working their way up a ranked system. Having a sense of purpose is key to any person no matter the age, and if your child doesn’t find it in school or other organized sports then perhaps this is the option for them. Additionally, because of the physical nature of martial arts, they will build confidence in their body image by working hard to achieve more. Through martial arts, they will see themselves and the strong, intelligent child they are. Especially as most serious martial arts instructors end up being more than just a teacher, but also a role model and sometimes a mentor.
  2. Build a healthy lifestyle – As I mentioned earlier many school systems are slowly winding down their physical training programs either due to overblown liability and safety concerns or budget concerns. Kids are meant to be active, and with less emphasis on physical health from the regular school system it is one of the contributing factors to our obesity epidemic. Just like mentioned about through martial arts kids will learn how to use their bodies and learn to listen to it. They will know when they feel good and when they do not. Anyone who lives a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise can tell you they feel much worse the day after they decided to have a binge day with no physical activity. If you teach your children young to have an active lifestyle it becomes a pattern that is built into them and is something they will continue for most of their lives even if they grow out of martial arts.
  3. Build social skills in a new environment – In the regular school system, it can be tricky for children to develop social skills. Some students excel and some do not. One of the best ways to build their skills further is to introduce them to another group of peers. Sometimes in school friend/peer options are limited and without extracurricular activities exposing your child to other peer groups, it can be hard especially if you dont fit in. I can tell you from my own personal experience that I did not have much exposure to other peer groups outside of those in my school, and looking back I really wish Id had, as perhaps I would have had a better time if I had friends doing a mutually enjoyable activity like martial arts. I started later in life, give your child the opportunity to learn early so even if they dont keep it up later in life they still learned social skills as well as practical self-defense skills.
  4. Learn discipline – This seems to be a popular idea. While the days of hitting your children are gone and rightfully so, it can be hard to find ways to keep your child properly disciplined especially if you are not familiar with various learning and teaching models. In martial arts children usually, learn that if they do not focus pushups (or other physical activity) will ensue. Either way, they are building something positive. They learn to focus because they dont like the push-ups, or they like the pushups and they get more physical strength. Additionally, in martial arts you can learn discipline through leadership. As your child grows in a program they may be asked to help out with classes and they will then learn to the importance of being well behaved in classes.
  5. Learn teamwork and community – Most children’s martial arts classes usually have some sort of teamwork involved. Whether it be the classical group punishment of if one child misbehaves every one does push-ups, or because the games and drills require all children to participate in partners of groups. They very quickly learn they would much rather work with partners who are serious about training and that if they want to partner with those people they better work well with others as well. Often in regular education group project are few and far between and often individuals care more about the grade than actually working well in a group. In martial arts teamwork is encouraged every class. Additionally, they are introduced early into a positive healthy community that they can be proud to be part of.

While there are certainly many more reasons to have your child join martial arts there are many others. Of Course one of the biggest concerns many parents have is the safety of their child. Always do your research and find a reputable school for your child. One suggestion I have is to make sure they separate kids 5-7 from 8-12. As far as teens, it’s usually ok for them to train with the adults pending the style. The reason for this is that the mental development of kids at these stages is different and the approach to learning is different.

For kids 5-7 the focus should be more on body awareness and fitness. and for kids 8+ of course pending the style they can learn usually just like the adults although in an age-appropriate manner.

This post is, of course, appropriately times as we at www.urbantacticskm.com recently expanded our kid’s program to include the age 5-7 age group. UTKM’s Richmond, BC, Kids program combines Krav Maga, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiujitsu, wrestling, and judo all in to one program. So if you are in my neck of the woods feel free to inquire by emailing us at info@urbantacticscanada.com 

Richmond Kids Martial Arts Age 5-7.jpgIf not get on google, do a search and find a reputable martial arts school near you and get your child started now not later. Build their confidence,  self esteem, Social skills, team skills and show them what a healthy life style looks like. Remember, something is better than nothing but of course I recommend Krav Maga/Kickboxing and BJJ.

 

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Recently I was asked why our kids do not spar like in other martial arts classes and if we could start including it in our class. My answer is always the same, NO! Kids should not spar and anyone who makes kids spar, allowing for blows to the head, is either stuck in the past or does not care about the health and well-being of their kids.

Aside from the obvious facts that kid’s bodies have yet to develop fully, that their coordination is not consistent, and that their ability to control their power is questionable, recent years have produced numerous studies outlining the dangers of repeated head trauma that can stem from sparring.

The concept of Punch Drunk is nothing new and though past research has been done on the subject it isn’t until recently that it is actually being taken seriously. Previously, people simply thought it was just a normal part of the fight game, in those times the fight game would have been boxing.

It only takes a quick glance at interviews of boxers in their later years, like Mohammad Ali and other greats, to see that there is clearly a problem. Many are now affected by mental health problems, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, linked to the sport. The tale is always the same, repeated serious or mild head traumas, like concussions from repeated unchecked blows, can cause long lasting effects. Is this acceptable? Not really, and just now science is breaking down the facts when it comes to head trauma.

Here’s the quick break down: a blow that causes a concussion is not that bad, however if a person undergoes a concussion and isn’t given enough time to properly heal, serious compounding issues arise. Unfortunately, the problem is that most people don’t even realize they were concussed in the first place.

More recent times have seen the criticism of American Football.

In a study by Alan Schwartz commissioned by the NFL in September 2009 he reported that:

“Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league’s former players vastly more often than in the national population — including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49.”

Another side effect that repeated head trauma can cause is reduced levels of testosterone, growth hormone, and various other important natural chemicals required to function properly.

There has also been a lot of controversy in the MMA world on fighters taking human growth hormone. But no one ever asks why so many fighters take it. Yes, one could say they take it to perform better. However the truth is probably closer to them needing to take it in order to return to normal functioning levels, both physically and mentally. Why? Because of the old school training methods or gyms that do not take head trauma seriously, causing serious brain damage in the fighters and requiring growth hormones to return to these normal levels.

How important is Human Growth Hormone?

Numerous studies have shown that human growth hormone affects the nervous system in many more ways than previously thought. A published article by Neruoendocrinol 2000 Oct:21 (4): 330-48 Nyberg F Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden says:

“GH replacement therapy was found to improve the psychological capabilities in adult GH deficient (GHD) patients. Furthermore, beneficial effects of the hormone on certain functions, including memory, mental alertness, motivation, and working capacity, have been reported. Likewise, GH treatment of GHD children has been observed to produce significant improvement in many behavioral problems seen in these individuals. Studies also indicated that GH therapy affects the cerebrospinal fluid levels of various hormones and neurotransmitters. Further support that the CNS is a target for GH emerges from observations indicating that the hormone may cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and from studies confirming the presence of GH receptors in the brain.”

Think about it, this hormone is extremely important for a person to feel good both mentally and physically. If a child begins to receive head traumas and is too young to understand the dangers of being hit in the head after being concussed, then the lifelong trauma could be devastating. It could not only stunt their growth but also slow their mental processing, and cause depression among numerous other life altering issues.

A question you may have then is, why on earth should adults be sparring if it can be so dangerous? The answer is a simple one; we now know the dangers of head trauma unlike the past where it was just the way of things. Sparring is a very important part of learning Krav Maga. I have said it before but I will say it again, punch a black belt in the face and he is a brown belt, punch him again and he is a blue belt etc…

We all work the same way, trauma to us is the same as trauma to a would-be assailant. However we need to learn to react to being hit so that we can appropriately defend ourselves.

You can learn all the techniques you want but if you fail to apply them then they are useless. Sparring is the only way to overcome the natural reaction to panic and freeze under stress. On the other hand, if you get attacked in the street and you have conditioned yourself to react, rather than panicking, your body will react without thinking.

However this is not to say sparring should not be regulated. For example our Krav Maga sparring rules are as such:

  1. You must have a mouth guard and appropriate face protection (for Krav Maga that means head gear with a face mask).
  2. You are only to spar at 30% unless told otherwise.
  3. If you get hit hard you are done sparring for the day.
  4. If you think you have a concussion or have a concussion you cannot spar for a minimum of 6 weeks or as your doctor has advised you.

We want to train our students as best as we can but their health and safety is paramount. This is why in our schools kids do not spar and this is why our adult sparring, though may appear chaotic, has rules and our students are expected to follow them.

I suggest that if your school allows children to spar they should reconsider and if you have full contact sparring that you should look at the safety precautions in place to keep your students and fighters healthy and training as long as their mind and body allow.

By Jonathan Fader

Edited by: Vanessa Mora