Black Belt Strong: How Kids Benefit from Martial Arts Training

Another candidate for post title: “How My Kids Can Now Kick Their Father’s Ass.”

Yeah, that’s funny. But the truth is, a martial arts black belt (in this case, tae kwon do) is less about “kicking ass” and more about self defense, discipline, focus, and the ability to have confidence and respect. Respect for yourself, and your peers.

Both my daughter and son are involved in the classes. Joey started practicing martial arts in 2007, and while advancing through some of the lower belts seemed easy for him, real challenges have come within the last year and a half.  It took an absolutely insane amount of effort on his part to finally finish and qualify for his first degree black belt.

My son is 11 years old. As part of his requirements, within a couple of months, he had to complete 1000 push ups, 2000 sit ups, 30 miles of running, and numerous sessions of jumping rope, forms practice, and self defense practice.

Board breaking en route to the Black Belt!

What my son did in a 90 day period most sedentary Americans don’t do in a lifetime. The kid worked his butt off.

He also had to write an essay on why becoming a black belt was important to him. This is an excerpt:

“I became a Bodan black belt candidate in December of 2010. When I got my binder in January, I realized how much work and discipline it would take to be a black belt. My instructors have taught me many things besides tae kwon do. I have learned to be respectful of everyone, and made friends with many people.

My body has become stronger and my mind has too. I am a better listener, and can study better as well. Tae kwon do has made me a leader in my classroom and given me more confidence.”

Before he started tae kwon do, he was a quiet guy who was a little shy and had trouble focusing in the classroom. This training did boost his confidence as well as his focusing skills. I still don’t know how he remembers all the forms he’s had to learn over the years.

My daughter takes the classes as well, and she is even more naturally skilled at the sport with her length, height, and flexibility. Since tae kwon do emphasizes kicks from a mobile stance more than punching, she has an advantage here with her powerful legs. Just ask Dad…she packs a wallop!

There were adults as well as many kids going for a black belt at some level the last testing period. Some common themes ran through the essays of everyone;

  • The ability to do anything you set your mind to
  • Enhanced self esteem and confidence
  • Not giving up, no matter what
  • Going beyond your comfort level and pushing yourself
  • Smarter, stronger, more self confident
  • Becoming stronger not only in body, but in your mind
  • The thing you need most is effort

“A black belt is a white belt who never quits”

I’ll admit, tae kwon do classes are an expensive option for a kid’s (or adult) activity. But, if you have children who need lessons in discipline, persistence, and fending for themselves in a world that’s going to try to slap them down, I’ll say it’s well worth the coin.

What do you think? What tools do you use to instill a little discipline into your kids? Or better yet…yourself? Share this with your friends, tweet it…use the buttons below, thanks!

10 thoughts on “Black Belt Strong: How Kids Benefit from Martial Arts Training

  1. Congratulations to you for encouraging your son, and to your son for achieving his belt. I’d say completing the training, but I know from my kids’ training (my son is a second degree and my daughter a first degree) that the training is never really over. In fact, their master says that the black belt curriculum is where the learning really begins! What a great sport/art/activity/discipline for your kids (anyone, really) to be involved with.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Staci. My son got his first degree black, and he is taking a break from the training. At 12, he wants to do other things. My teenage daughter is high brown, and hopefully going to be attending enough classes to get her black in 2013. 🙂

      It is a lot of work, but certainly worth it. My son is much more focused than he used to be, and is better able to pay attention in school.

  2. Loving this post. And I sure love karate! Brings back some great memories. When I was younger we moved around a bit, so moved around in karate as well. I received my brown belt in Ishinru and purple belt in Tae Kwon Do. Those days were amazing! All the things you’d learn about yourself, your body, and your discipline were very insightful.

    There’s much from karate that you bring with you throughout your life. I think you hit the head on the target when you mention respect. Respect for yourself, others and the environment. It all comes with the martial arts territory.

    If only we could convince more children and families to pony up and participate in martial arts. It’s a worthwhile investment.

    1. Excellent comment, Christian. Yes, the classes were more than worth the investment. Both my kids have benefitted tremendously. The classes are a commitment for both child and parent, but the discipline they derive from it is great. Thanks for stopping by again!

  3. Hey Joe – man, this was great. Your son is the man already and he’s only 11? Wow!

    I put my kids in Karate last year, but the program was weak, so we ended up taking the kids out. There’s no other place close to us to make it happen currently, but if one opens, we’ll be the first to sign up.

    I’m a very disciplined person because I work at it each day. For instance, it’s never easy working out at 5am. But I do it everyday. I do it because it’s a challenge and it makes other challenges seem easy.

    I’m very motivated in getting my little ones back in to martial arts after reading this.

    Thanks and I hope you had a great 4th!

    1. Wow, Jk, I’m still watching my the back of my eyelids at 5AM, that’s dedication. I’m more of an evening guy, sometimes I’ll wait till after the wife and kids go to bed and work out. There’s a lot to be said, however, for getting it out of the way first thing. I commend that.

      Yeah, the program we have the kids in is rigorous. My son was all done after he got his first degree. He may go back at a later date, but he’s done for now. Wants to focus on baseball!

  4. In the aspect of discipline i make sure I continue to work hard at my goals each and everyday no matter what. Making sure I set goals for the day and I continue to push towards it achievement. BY doing something everyday towards your success, your sure to succeed in due time. I love that line that said, ” a black belt is a white belt that never quits,” So true.

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