Friday, April 15, 2011

Martial Arts as P.E., part 1

Martial Arts as P.E., part 1

Your fifth grader is undergoing many changes in his or her life. Some of those changes are emotional, some are academic, and some of the most noticeable are physical. As his or her body changes the importance of physical education becomes more important. Many times children are started in team sports such as football, or soccer. These sports are great in that they teach team dynamics and sportsmanship. A great amount of dedication is also required for participation in these sports. The drawbacks to those kind of team sports are few but among the drawbacks, two stand out. the first is that they tend to be hard on the body and so as the child matures into an adult often the team sports played at younger ages are dropped. The other drawback is that they by definition of being team sports require the participation and cooperation of others.

I would like to present an alternative to team sports for your child’s physical education program. Martial arts are a great way to keep in shape. They require discipline and perseverance. They are a fairly solitary sport, meaning that they do not require the participation of another person or group of people to be active in them. Martial arts, for the most part are low impact sports and do not generally prove hard on joints or muscles. The martial art I know most about is Tae Kwon Do. For our family it is a physical activity that the entire family participates in, from the youngest member to the oldest. It provides a great cardio workout, provides over all muscle conditioning, and as an added bonus does not require any special equipment to practice the forms. Consider the lack of equipment necessary to practice the basic forms an added bonus as your child gets older. When she goes off to college, or travels on business trips, there is nothing to stop her from continuing her work outs in a martial art. Martial arts also allow for individual expression through training in various weapons. Among the weapons available to train with are sword, nun chucks, and staff, allowing a more complex and varied workout. Competition within the sport can be as strenuous or as laid back as you and your child would like it to be. Physical fitness is not the only benefit to martial arts as a part of your child’s physical fitness education. We will look at that more next time.

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