At the mention of martial arts the first thing that comes to mind is The Karate Kid…”wax on, wax off”, “sweep the leg” and numerous other quotes from that movie. If this is your only exposure to martial arts, you probably don’t have a full appreciation for it and its benefits. Studying martial arts is not just learning to kick and punch. Martial arts teaches kids discipline, self-control, focus, and develops physical, as well as, mental skills.
Martial arts can help kids with balance, coordination, flexibility, strength and speed. Working toward the next belt helps kids to set and obtain goals. And, the self-defense skills that they learn will boost their confidence and may keep a kid from being bullied. It’s also been shown that martial arts is very good at helping kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to focus.
Some parents may think that martial arts promotes violence, however a good instructor will instill that conflict avoidance is key. There are several styles of martial arts and it may be difficult to decide which one is the best fit for your child. The American T’ai Chi Associates recommends looking for a school that adheres to the original principles of the martial art it offers, rather than one that dilutes them by, say, pairing jujitsu with kickboxing: The purer the teaching, the more your child stands to gain.
A variety of kids. One that needs more self-confidence or another that needs to learn better self-discipline. While there is comradery in being part of a gym, martial arts are typically more of a solo sport and may be best for a kiddo who doesn’t necessarily want or need to be part of a team.
Beginner: One hour class per week. There may or may not be opportunities to participate in exhibitions.
Intermediate and up: One to three two hour classes a week. There may also be a few exhibitions per year.
Different styles of martial arts require different gear. The following is typical gear needed for most.
- Protective/Sparring Gear
- Head Gear
- Shin Pads
- Chest Protector
- Mouth Guard
Many gyms offer FREE trial classes and a variety of payment plans. There may also be registration or processing fees in addition to class costs. You will also want to find out if belt advancement is included in your payment or not. All costs are approximate. As with any activity, as your child progresses, only your family can choose what you will spend in relation to your child’s specific goals within the sport whether competitively or recreationally.
There are several martial arts gyms scattered across the metro. A handful are listed below. Schools and city parks and recreation departments also offer martial arts classes.
- Academy of Martial Arts
- Black Eagle Martial Arts
- Eagle Claw Kung Fu Des Moines
- Jacobs Martial Arts
- Martial Arts America
- Round Kick Gym
- Two Rivers Martial Arts
What do you think, are martial arts a fit for your kid?