> Library

Why Kids Should Study Martial Arts
Part 2: Physical Fitness
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Introduction
• Part 2: Physical Fitness
• Part 3: Personal Security
• Part 4: Learning Abilities
• Part 5: Goal Setting
• Part 6: Discipline
• Part 7: Camaraderie
• Part 8: Self-Esteem
• Part 9: Respect
• Part 10: Calming
• Part 11: Girls
• Part 12: Summary

Kung fu started as a way for studious monks to get physically fit. A Buddhist monk, traveling from his native India to what is now southern China, encountered a temple full of sickly monks--some who were spending so much time studying that they were neglecting their physical health. This place, the famous Shaolin Temple, soon became the wellspring of martial arts knowledge for much of Asia.

Cardio, Strength, Balance

Martial arts, taken as pure exercise, develops cardiovascular fitness as well as muscular strength. Martial artists also enjoy a heightened sense of balance, as well as learning specific skills to avoid injury (like learning how to fall properly in throwing arts like aikido and jujitsu).

The benefits of physical fitness for kids are well-documented. According to the American Council on Exercise, physically active children have fewer chronic health problems than kids who are sedentary. Regardless of which martial art your child studies, moving the body in martial arts techniques is great exercise. While not as calorie-consuming as its more fitness-oriented renditions, like cardio kickboxing or Tae Bo, martial arts classes exercise all joints and muscle groups. Classes usually begin with warmups, then stretching, followed by intense exercise and a subsequent cooldown. Regular training causes incremental improvements in fitness.

One Alarming Statistic:

There's also specific physical benefits unique to the martial arts. For example, aikido's founder Morehei Ueshiba stated that the rolls and somersaults in aikido were beneficial to internal organs. These rolling breakfalls, used to prevent injury when being thrown by a partner, come in handy when riding a bicycle or skateboard as well.

The American Council on Exercise states that by the time they reach high school,
of children are no longer physically active.

Non-Virtual Fighter

With all the virtual things to do these days, getting kids to embrace a physical fitness regimen is often hard work. Often kids would rather spend their time sitting in front of the TV exercising their thumbs at PlayStation, or risking carpal tunnel on instant messaging, than working up a good sweat. In martial arts classes, they're acquiring useful skills while exercising, and the novelty of learning something from an exotic culture often holds their attention.

Next page > Personal Security > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,

Previous Articles

All content copyright © 1999-2016 James Hom