Children In Martial Arts

Master Noguchi Michiro correcting young Martial Artists in his first visit to Australia.

The rewards are far reaching.

After the miracle of childbirth, parents have strong hopes and dreams for their child and take many steps to protect and nurture them in preparation of adult life.

We immunize babies to help prevent diseases, we purchase safety seats for car travel, we spend a small fortune on dental work and academic education. When they grow older we buy protective helmets for bike riding, carefully select healthy foods and educate them about maintaining a clean environment. But the world we hoped and dreamt for our children is quite different than we could have imagined: it has become a society with rampant drug abuse and increase in violent crime.

I believe self-esteem is the greatest tool that we as parents and educators can build in our children in order for them to cope with social challenges and relationship skills.

“The direction in which education starts a child will determine their future life”  Plato

Children’s Karate class at Master Noguchi’s Dojo Etsukou Kai in Japan

Martial Arts have proven to be a very effective tool for empowering confidence and a strong self-image to young people. This will help enormously later with mental and emotional pressures in addition to the obvious by-product of Martial Arts, being self-defense skills. Appropriate Martial Arts instruction lays the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and is an excellent preparation for other physically demanding sports with the development of flexibility, timing and control. I believe a great emphasis is placed on adult fitness however children’s level of fitness is lacking greatly. Being fit makes you ‘feel good’ and is an important aspect of a happy, healthy life. The physical exercise of practicing Martial Arts is very extensive and holistic, guiding children to learn habits of a healthy way to live that will stay with them all their lives. With the popularity of computers and video games, children are spending more time indoors leading to a generation of sedentary adults. To correct this phenomenon, Martial Arts can be of great assistance. The many varied exercises, drills and games of Karate offer a total fitness program and will assist with the growing child’s body framework and developing musculature strength, flexibility and agility; a balanced combination that is difficult to attain in other sports and activities. Inherent in Martial Arts is a traditional emphasis on respect, discipline, and defensive initiatives rather than aggression.

Introducing Martial Arts into a child’s life can offer far-reaching rewards in the following areas:

  • Strong social skills, courtesy, respect, camaraderie and good manners.
  • Self Defense awareness and physical skills, both mind set and technique.
  • A healthy lifestyle, a combination of fun, fitness and flexibility.
  • Ability to work individually or as a part of a team.
  • Psychological aspects of self esteem and positivity.
  • Discipline of facing challenges.

The Martial Arts belt grading system teaches young people about setting and accomplishing long-term goals, by breaking them down into short attainable sections. This will overlap into other areas of their life and can be particularly productive with schoolwork.

It would be irresponsible of me to state that Martial Arts training can solve all problems, but it can certainly guide young people to develop moral principles that ward off peer group pressures and perhaps empower them to avoid unnecessary hardships.

James Sumarac with his youngest son Lazar learning upper block.

Extract (edited) from WE CAN’T ALWAYS BE WITH THEM A Self Protection manual for Children, Parents and Educators by James Sumarac

Published in Australia by Spectrum Publications 1994

James Sumarac 8th Degree Black Belt Goju Ryu Karate has taught traditional Karate-do to young people for 45 years and continues to run regular classes and a unique on line program for children and adults.

A Young David Brogno Being Put On The Spot During A Class.

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