Martial Arts and Solving ADD/ADHD

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Michelle Martin. Michelle Martin is a licensed school psychologist and a tae kwon do instructor with a practice in Warrensville Heights called the Insight Learning & Wellness Center.

"With proper instruction and a program that is grounded in Eastern traditions, martial arts offer many benefits in the development of a child's physical, mental and spiritual well being. While originally designed as a self-defense mechanism and form of physical combat, the most helpful martial art forms taught today promote nonviolence, physical and mental skills, and a holistic or spiritual approach to exercise. This is certainly different from what is often depicted in the movies or on television.

One of the most appropriate forms of martial arts for children is tae kwon do. Originally developed by Buddhist monks in Korea as a way of developing self-discipline and physical exercise, tae kwon do combines the linear movements of karate from Japan with the flowing circular patterns of kung fu from China. There are many reasons for kids to become involved in the martial arts. According to the American Taekwondo Association (ATA), the building blocks of its system include goal-setting, self-control, courtesy, integrity, confidence, self-esteem, self-awareness, perseverance, respect and dedication.

Martial arts such as karate and tae kwon do combine both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, building muscle strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. Martial arts can be a competitive sport - it is even an Olympic event - but more often it is geared toward individual success and achievement. For many children, it is the combination of working both the body and the mind that is most appealing. The mind-body dualism is evidenced by increased coordination, body control and strength as well as the self-confidence and self-esteem that grow through continued practice.

A study by Bob Schleser, sports psychologist at the Illinois Institute of Technology, recently found that children between the ages of seven and eighteen who took martial arts classes dramatically increased their "perceived competence" in areas ranging from social and cognitive skills to maternal acceptance. For children who practice it, a martial arts program plays an important role in their development. It encompasses values such as patience, humility, self-control and diligence, and instills a spirit of cooperation. Children in martial arts feel proud and successful, especially when the classes are designed to make the most of their strengths. Children trained in martial arts experience increased confidence, are better at being organized and have a longer attention span.
middle section punch

Therapeutic results are also influencing involvement in martial arts among children. Young children suffering from obesity and Type II diabetes experienced dramatically positive results after becoming involved in martial arts. There is also increasing evidence that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), behavior problems or learning disabilities can benefit from a structured learning program such as a martial arts program geared specifically toward them. With martial arts, special-needs children have been shown to develop memory, focus, body awareness and motor planning. The emphasis on repetition and refined joint movement encourages physical, subsequent mental and impulse control. Harvard University's Dr. John Ratey is the author of several books on ADHD. He states that general exercise benefits those with ADHD, but martial arts helps more so than other activities. He hypothesizes that a change in the brain occurs when an individual with attention disorders studies martial arts.

Parents often express concerns about aggressive behavior or the risk of injury when considering martial arts programs for their children. The repetitive nature of practicing the katas, or forms, in martial arts induces a calming effect, especially in children, while increasing attention and focus. Experts will tell you that the more accomplished one is in marital arts, the less likely one is to act out in anger or with intent to harm. And because the joints and connective tissues of children are still developing, they are more vulnerable to injury. Martial arts programs for children take this into account. Tae kwon do, especially, offers young children the fun of kicking and punching without the potentially harmful movements.

The study of the martial arts holds great potential as a stabilizing factor in the lives of children. Ideal for all ages, it especially provides a unique opportunity for children to develop mind and body, to gain strength and integrity and to have fun. In the proper martial arts program, a child's physical fitness, mental awareness and self-esteem will likely flourish. Children are our future, and martial arts encourage any child to embody his or her greatest potential."

Karate Kids: The Benefits of Martial Arts

Excerpts from an article by Alison Hendrie

With a bloodcurdling cry, your 6-year-old leaps into the air in a karate kick, raising your hair and blood pressure simultaneously. Before you panic and pad the walls, try channeling this urge into a martial arts class.

Activities like tae kwon do, kung fu, and aikido are a fun way for both boys and girls to achieve fitness and focus. Some parents may think they also promote violence, but that's a myth, according to experts. The martial arts actually help teach self-discipline and socialization skills. In fact, many parents whose children have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) report great success with these programs because self-control and concentration are exactly the skills underdeveloped in ADHD kids.

A typical hour-long class begins and ends with a bow to the teacher, or master. After a warm-up, students practice the art's particular skills, which may include kicks, punches, and blocks. Each requires concentration and strict attention.

Progress is often marked by the belt system, which takes the beginner from a white belt through a variety of colors until black. Testing for each new level, generally every three months, is a good exercise in setting and achieving goals.

But, say experts, it's the respect kids learn, whether from bowing or standing still and waiting for the next command, that can be the most important benefit: It often carries over into school, helping to improve behavior and even grades, according to recent research.

"Six is usually a good age to start classes," says Mimi Johnson, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness. By that time a child should have enough muscle control to punch and turn properly and safely  -- essential to getting a real kick out of the martial art he chooses.

Waukesha Martial Arts Academy Article List

5/9/2013 Martial Arts for New Berlin Kids (5/9/2013)
3/21/2013 Martial Arts for Brookfield Kids (3/21/2013)
9/14/2011 Family Fitness with Martial Arts (9/14/2011)
7/29/2010 A REAL Karate Kid (7/29/2010)
2/15/2009 Powerful Parenting (2/15/2009)
2/12/2009 Martial Arts and Solving ADD/ADHD (2/12/2009)
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Martial Art Articles:

American Dojo is the premier New Berlin Karate and martial arts training center for kids and families.

3/21/2013 Martial Arts for Brookfield Kids 3/21/2013
Now offering karate classes and martial arts lessons to Brookfield families!
9/14/2011 Family Fitness 9/14/2011

If your waistband is a little tight, try a slimming new black belt--a martial-arts belt. And bring the kids.

7/29/2010 A REAL Karate Kid 7/29/2010
This real- life Karate Kid puts both the eighties version (Ralph Macchio), and the 2010 version (Jaden Smith) to shame. Meet Adam Stone, black belt.... Some would say that fate tried to stack the deck against Adam from the very start. The now 15-year-old was born with Down syndrome, and doctors found four holes in his heart that necessitated open-heart surgery on the infant.....

Child obesity is becoming a world wide epidemic. Children are becoming overweight at young ages due to lack of exercise and unhealthy eating.

2/15/2009 Powerful Parenting 2/15/2009

...Today, Pam, her husband, Frank, and their children, Mason, 13, Jake, 10, and Zaiah, 8, spend 3 days a week at the martial arts training hall...

"With proper instruction and a program that is grounded in Eastern traditions, martial arts offer many benefits in the development of a child's physical, mental and spiritual well being..."