More than six million children in the US participate in some form of martial arts. These traditions and systems of combat practices are practiced for various reasons, which include physical fitness, self-defense, competition, entertainment, and mental and spiritual development. Martial arts are also known to improve discipline, social skills, and respect among children. They increase their ability to concentrate and improve their motor skills. Furthermore, martial arts like karate can be fun at any age.
While movies, television shows, video games and pop music seem to glorify violence, learning martial arts like karate is not about learning to use violence. On the contrary, it has many physical, mental, social, and spiritual benefits.
What Is Karate?
Karate, which means "empty hand," is a form of self-defense that does not use weapons. It is a traditional Japanese system of self-development that uses kicks and punches. It uses quick, sharp, snapping movements, which require careful warm ups.
Benefits Of Karate And Other Forms of Martial Arts
Like other forms of martial arts, karate for kids has many benefits, which include:
- Self-discipline in the form of self-restraint
- Socialization skills and camaraderie
- Increased physical activity, which discourages a sedentary lifestyle
- Learning to achieve goals and improve skills
- Increased self-esteem and confidence
- Sense of respect for authority and adults
- Encourages conflict resolution through non-violence
- Improved attention and listening skills
- Development of teamwork skills
- Improvement of behavior
While martial arts are relatively safe, occasional injuries can occur because of physical contact between opponents. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides some recommendations on how to prevent injuries from martial arts:
- Experienced instructors must teach children at a level that is appropriate for the child's age and maturity.
- Lessons must emphasize technique and self-control.
- Children should learn proper positions and how to use the appropriate amount of force in kicking and punching.
- Head contact should be discouraged.
- Use of properly fitted safety gear (head gear, body pads, and mouth guards) should be enforced.
- A safe environment must be maintained, including mats and floors, to prevent slips and falls.
Common injuries involved in martial arts are similar to other sports, including scrapes and bruises (the most common), sprains and strains, finger and toe injuries, as well as concussions. Scrapes and cuts must be thoroughly washed with soap and water then bandaged before returning to play. Ice must be applied to bruises for 20 to 30 minutes. Injuries that are associated with a deformity, significant pain, dislocation, or inability to straighten or bend, should be examined by a doctor. Home remedies include rest, ice application, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and range of motion exercises.
Concussions are serious injuries to the brain that disrupt normal brain function, whether temporary or permanent. All athletes who are suspected of sustaining a concussion should not return to play until they have seen a doctor.
Martial arts are a great way for children to engage in physical activity as well as learn other mental and social skills. Injuries can be prevented with proper supervision and compliance with rules and safety guidelines.
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