WHY MARTIAL ARTS? 10 Ways Martial Arts Stands Out From Other Sports

I am about to make a bold declaration. I know these are strong words, but I stand by them.

Every family should consider exposing their children to martial arts training as part of their growing up.

Now who am I to make such a statement?

Well, I am an athlete, for one. I grew up playing multiple sports: tennis, racquetball, baseball, soccer, football, volleyball, track and field, softball, and basketball. Individual and team. Competitive and not. And I loved it. In fact, one of my proudest moments was being inducted into my high school’s athletic Hall of Fame. 

I am also a teacher. By trade. My background is in communication, psychology, and education. Teaching is part of my being; it is what I am meant to be doing. I have worked with children of all ages for over 25 years. Many of whom I’ve had the opportunity to watch grow up for a span of 5-10 years or more (Including my own three children.)

Finally, I am a seeker of personal strength and wisdom. That is what drives me. I have always been fascinated by what makes a person strong. 

So now…..Why martial arts? 

Late in my college years, I realized something was missing in my life. I needed a sport. A flyer came in the mail that looked interesting, and there began my training in taekwondo and hapkido. I loved it, and I never looked back. I have been training for almost three decades. And as a master instructor, I have been blessed to work with thousands of children and parents throughout those years.

Based on my life experience, taekwondo and hapkido training, and years of teaching, I am going to share 10 ways I believe martial arts stands out from other sports. I will start with number ten and work my way up to my number one favorite.

#10 - Martial arts is a whole body workout; making it great on its own, or as cross-training. 
It helps with coordination in general, and it teaches skills that will help in any sport should you decide to pursue one on down the road. This makes it a great first physical activity for young children. For older children and adults, it will improve coordination, strength, and reaction time, which will carry over into your other physical activities.

#9 - In martial arts, everyone gets to play. 
There are no bench warmers. This is probably the biggest issue people have with team sports. Many kids don’t even get to play, yet they may put in just as much time and effort into their practices. I do understand that is just the way it is, and such is life. But that also makes it one of the reasons I love martial arts. No bench warmers.

#8 - Martial arts is both an individual AND a team sport.
If you like working alone, this is for you. If you like being part of a group, this is for you. You are working both together and alone at the same time. You do not have to worry about “bringing the team down,” so to speak, but at the same time, you can reap the benefits of being encouraged by the group. If you want more of a team feel, some studios actually have sparring and/or demonstration teams that train even harder together.

#7 - Martial arts can be competitive…or not. 
The only person you actually need to compete with, is yourself. You want to try to always be better than you were, but it does not matter how you compare to the other students in class. You move up when you are ready. However, there ARE opportunities to do competitions if you want to. Taekwondo tournaments allow students to test their skills against others, but it is usually not required.

#6 - In martial arts, everyone can become the star.
Why? Because ALL students will become a black belt if they do not give up. It is hard work, but you are guaranteed the accolades and the feeling of awesomeness IF you put in the time and effort. And isn’t that what we want to teach our kids about life?

#5 - As a martial arts student, you will be part of a positive, life-affirming, community.
Being part of a positive community is so important. Life can be tough, so it is nice to have a place to go where everyone has a similar goal and supports each other. School can be hard on many kids socially. The studio is a place they can go and not worry about social groups. Mutual respect is expected.

#4 - On your martial arts journey, you are learning how to defend yourself, a practical life skill, while doing the sport. 
How cool is that?! Not only are you getting the exercise, but you are also learning how to protect yourself at the same time. As you train, you are actually becoming less likely to ever be a target of bullying or violence. 

#3 - In martial arts, boys and girls play together, get strong together, and gain mutual respect for one another. 
This is so awesome that I toyed with making it number one on my list. Boys and girls train side by side and even spar one another. They also hang out together at events, help each other learn skills, and break the same boards and bricks. They earn the same black belt together. I actually believe if everyone did martial arts, there would be much less incidences of sexual assault. A feeling of equality is the key here.

#2 - Building character is inherent in martial arts. 
Yes, being part of any sport can build character. However, in martial arts, it is actually the PURPOSE, so students are specifically taught things to build positive character traits. There are so many positive traits, in fact, that I will do a separate blog on the character benefits of martial arts.

#1 - Above all, the goal of martial arts is to build true confidence. 
As parents, we want our children to be confident as they walk through life. This is difficult to achieve when there is so much pressure on them to be good at everything. That’s why I LOVE that building confidence is the ESSENCE of martial arts. It is even the first line of the taekwondo creed, 
through knowledge in the mind, 
honesty in the heart, 
and strength in the body.”

And I do believe, it is the number one most important trait we should strive to instill in our children as they grow up. 

Now that is quite a list, and quite a claim I am making. But I am adamant. I do realize, however, all of this is dependent upon finding a good, reputable studio. Fortunately, most masters teach because they want to make a difference, so there are many good ones out there. 

What are you waiting for!!!

To help you get started, I will create a blog/video on “How To Choose A Martial Art Style And Studio That Is Right For You.” 

Until then, all the best on your journey,

Jodi Harrison-Lee

The Martial Way is a family run taekwondo and hapkido studio in La Crescenta, California. If you are interested in learning more about us you can visit our website at www.themartialwaykicks.com or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/themartialwaykicks. We would love to connect with you.

If you are interested in my book, “FIND YOUR STRENGTH: The Secret to Being Safe, Strong, and Able to Defend Yourself,” you can get it in print and kindle format on Amazon at https://bit.ly/fysbook.

Photo credit: Derek Althen of DA Foto


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