Teens in the year 2013 face a very different reality than their parents or grandparents. In fact, “teens” continue to shape their demographic. Considering the word “teenager” was only coined in 1941 (before that was “teener” in 1894, and “teen-aged person” in 1818), they are an ever-evolving group. Regardless of their label, children between the ages of 13 and 18 require special consideration in the development of body, mind and spirit. Martial arts provides remedy to some of the challenges faced by teenagers today. Here are 5 good reasons why teens need martial arts.
1. Fitness. Participating in healthy, vigorous physical activity helps combats the dangerous trend of childhood obesity and resulting diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Regular sports provide relief on a seasonal basis (baseball, football, and hockey). Martial arts, on the other hand, is a year-round, healthy fitness commitment which provides a full-body workout, strength, flexibility and muscle building exercises to keep teens healthy and prepared to succeed in school and at home. With nearly 5% of American children categorized as “severely obese”, they need all the support possible.
2. Positive self-esteem. The positive development of character is a mainstay of traditional martial arts training. Through the discipline that the curriculum requires, martial artists learn to apply positive tenets and codes to their lives, and to the service of others less fortunate than they are. In fact, students with troubled lives who begin martial arts training and commit to the work often find themselves looking at life challenges as opportunities, rather than tragedies. They become more resilient, and therefore better able to face stressors of everyday life. Teens who practice martial arts celebrate their successes in training, and therefore learn to celebrate themselves in life.
3. Socialization skills. Cliques rule – they rule local governments, corporate boardrooms, high schools and middle schools. In fact, the power of adolescent cliques to dispense bad behavior contributes to the frequency of bullying in modern teenage society. Bullying is applied physically or mentally to demean or otherwise damage a person. There is an urgent need to prevent physical and mental damage caused by this type of abuse. Often providing anti-bullying programs, martial arts schools provide safe environments in which all types of people interact. The philosophies upon which traditional martial arts systems are based forbids practitioners to be biased against any individual, to mistreat any person or group, or to exclude classmates from participation in any in-school or outside-school activity. Inclusion is the key. Learning how to include others and how to be included is a by-product of the discipline and character-building curriculums present in good martial arts schools.
4. Stress management. Teens, as a group, face stressors from school, home, work, or society in general. The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a 2012 study called “Stress in America” which concluded that stress is of great concern to teenagers. In fact, the APA found that 42% of teens developed stress-induced headaches. Building strong relationships can help combat stress. Through organized martial arts classes, students build lifetime relationships with their peers and their instructors which provides respite for them when they are emotionally drained. This positive support group, along with resilience training that martial arts practice produces, can help teens manage the stress brought on by school, friends, family and work. The Mayo Clinic reports that regular exercise acts as a stress reliever because it releases endorphins, increasing one’s sense of well-being. So the regular physical activity that martial arts provides is perfect for the growing teen.
5. Self-defense. The National Crime Prevention Council reports that, “Each year more than 40 million Americans are victimized at home, at school, or on the street” and “For all major types of crimes, people aged 12 to 19 are the most frequent victims.” The reality of danger looms in the hearts and minds of teens everywhere. Practical and persistent training in a traditional martial arts system like Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, Kenpo, Jiu Jitsu, or Judo to name a few, provide a practical self-defense education to prepare teens for danger that they may encounter in life.
Martial arts also helps teens develop confidence, resilience and determination which helps propel them toward their positive life goals. Regular participation in traditional martial arts practice is good for the teenager’s mind, body and spirit.