We read or hear about the levels of violence that our children are exposed to, from a very young age, on a daily basis.
Popular video games like Grand Theft Auto glamorise a very warped society where extreme violence and disrespect to others is acceptable. Makers of television programmes and Hollywood films seem oblivious to the impact violence has on a developing mind.
As a karate instructor, I don’t have all the answers, but I believe it’s important that our young learn discipline, control of aggression, respect to others and a healthy self esteem. Confidence to deal with perceived threats and to react without emotion in our sometimes troubled world can only enhance a child’s life. To me, karate’s not just about kicking and punching.
Since its origins in Japan circa 1922, karate has taught many a mindset to help overcome the problems that life throws our way. Karate’s founder, Gichin Funakoshi, described it primarily as ‘the development of character’.
The aim at Loughton Karate Club is to continue along the great path that Gichin Funakoshi laid. Helping students develop into well balanced, responsible adults with the skills needed to protect themselves and others.
You're never to old to learn! Our most senior student, Bob, is 68 years old. Karate practice helps Bob to stay strong and trim. As with all our adult students, karate training keeps their minds and bodies sharp.
6 Reasons Why All Children Should Learn Karate
Karate is an ancient form of combat developed in Japan with underlying principles of self discovery and self-improvement. The ultimate aim of karate training was to aspire to live by a set of core beliefs and values including courage, loyalty, self-control, honour and justice.
Martial arts today are usually modified for modern sport and exercise but many karate styles still have their emphasis on the core values. I believe that karate training is not just kicking and punching, but actually gives students a purpose.
1. Physical Activity
Regular physical exercise is vital for the healthy development of children and to sustain good health as an adult. With today’s youth facing unprecedented levels of childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease, it’s essential that dynamic, fun and challenging activities like karate are introduced to children.
2. Learning Respect
Students are taught to treat others with dignity and respect. Young children have no concept of these values but karate teaches this in the dojo. From an early age, bowing to others or a simple handshake is introduced as a sign of good sportsmanship, respect and dignity. Students also learn respect for rules and authority.
3. Self Defence
Students are taught skills to defend against an attacker and so can live life without being a victim. ‘How to fight’ is just as important as ‘why not to fight’. Learning karate develops a confidence which will deter bullies.
4. Inner Strength
Regular exercise has been linked to many psychological benefits. The intense physical training of karate will develop an inner strength to cope with intimidation and adversity. ‘Getting knocked down 5 times and standing up 6 times’ is an over-riding message of karate training. This concept transcends from the dojo into all aspects of life.
Karate teaches stillness, an ability to not respond emotionally to aggression. Contrary to the distorted image created by the media for commercial and entertainment purposes, studies have shown that karate practice actually makes students less aggressive.
Obviously there is some risk of injury with karate training. However injuries are negligible when compared to more popular sporting activities like football, basketball, etc. The emphasis of karate practice is always on self-control and safety is paramount in the dojo. Students learn by striking padded mitts and shields and in sparring, wear padded gloves, gum shields and foot protectors. Karate is a safe way to get fit and active.