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Why Kids Should Study Martial Arts
Part 3: Personal Security and Self-Defense
 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

Martial arts are perhaps best known for increasing one's fighting ability. After all, that's what we see in the movies and on television--the good-guy martial artist kicking some bad guy butt. However, these skills for personal security aren't just used for fighting.

"I do this so I don't have to fight..."

For kids who are preyed upon by bullies, or reside in neighborhoods where street violence is common, the ability to defend themselves allows them peace of mind. In almost all cases, they never have to use their martial arts techniques on someone. Their increased awareness and presence deters violence. In effect, by understanding and mastering a higher level of the force continuum, they can acheive their goals by using lesser levels of force.

To Win Without Fighting is Best

For example, basic martial arts training always involves learning how to avoid physical damage in a confrontation--whether by blocking a punch, evading a strike by moving out of the way, or checking the incoming limb before it can reach full-speed. Often, trained martial artists don't need to harm their opponent--their adeptness at evading attacks lets them be in control, and frustrates their attacker.

Martial arts training also involves awareness of how attacks occur. In training to spar, students learn how to detect the beginning of an incoming punch or kick: the subtle weight shift to a support leg, or a change in focus in their opponent's gaze. Translate such awareness to the street, and kids learn to watch what's in a stranger's hands--is it a weapon? They learn to size up a potential opponent, and decide the best countermeasures--perhaps it's better to cross the street before you pass that shady-looking character.

These "combat-oriented" benefits of martial arts training are most often never used for combat.

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