Benefits of a martial arts family fitness program for toddlers

Practicing the martial arts gives distinct advantages for older children and adults in a family. Did you know that toddler-age children could also greatly benefit from the martial arts as well? Karate and Tae Kwan Do not only provide toddlers with exciting experiences with other children, but these arts also encourage motor skill coordination, concentration, and self-confidence. Add these skills with a touch of ancient Eastern wisdom, and your toddler will be learning life lessons that will serve him well in the years to come.

We recently worked with a martial arts supply store to learn more about how they approach martial arts and toddlers using taekwondo gear specifically for that age group.

Within the ages of two and five, your toddler is growing in mind, body and spirit. These ages are distinctly important, as they set the tone for your toddler’s life pattern of behavior. Childhood development experts recommend that toddlers participate in physical and mental activities to encourage personality growth, physical maturity, and socialization with others. The martial arts effectively provide these experiences in a variety of ways.

While your toddler is growing, his muscles and bones must develop strength and agility. Physical development occurs only when a toddler receives adequate exercise that including stretching, bending and muscle-building movements.

Have you noticed how clumsy toddlers can be? Although they have mastered the fine art of walking, they seem to trip over several things, including their own two feet! The martial arts excel at teaching your toddler motor skill coordination, precision movements that increase hand-eye coordination and foot/leg movements that help him learn to adjust and move him past the toddler “wobbles.”

How long is your toddler’s attention span? How about his ability to focus on tasks until they’re completed? Is he able to memorize and retain information at a rate appropriate for his age? The martial arts require toddlers to concentrate and pay close attention to the instructions of the teacher; to be successful in the martial arts and in their lives, toddlers must learn to listen and thoroughly absorb the lessons. Your toddler will also learn to focus and follow through on tasks; dawdling and impulsivity aren’t allowed! The teacher will re-direct your child’s focus to mastering the task at hand; movements that can only be learned by strict focus. Your toddler will be required to memorize the order and types of movements, performing them flawlessly when prompted by the teacher. Thus, when he begins school, your toddler will have a distinct edge in learning the language and abstract arithmetic skills.

Toddlers want everything they want whenever they want it. We know that the world doesn’t work this way; we must earn what we receive, and have the patience to work our way towards a goal. In the martial arts, toddlers learn that instant gratification isn’t realistic, and self-discipline exists. Each set of movements must be learned in sequence rather than in a haphazard manner. Your toddler will learn respect for authority by showing respect for his teacher in all things.

Your toddler will learn that unprovoked aggression is never appropriate. The martial arts are defensive in nature; your toddler will learn that amicably getting along with others results from the self-confidence of knowing that he isn’t going to be harmed by schoolyard bullies. As he bows to his opponent, your toddler learns to show respect to others, increasing his confidence. His mastery of the martial arts also teaches him that he can succeed in life tasks, thus building a confident, intrepid adult.

Your toddler’s teacher will expose him to the enduring wisdom of Eastern philosophy and the ancient world. These are the concepts of avoiding foolish and self-destructive behavior, service to others, tolerance for differences, patience, loyalty, and caution.

Finding a martial arts program for your toddler isn’t difficult; most local schools can provide you with information about toddlers’ programs.