Martial arts movies are big news right now, from the 'Ninjago' franchise for younger children to the recently released 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' for older kids. Of course, as soon as boys and girls see these films, they want to be able to defend themselves as well as their heroes can.
When my son asked if he could take up Judo, I admit I had to do a quick Google to check exactly what the classes would involve. I knew it came under the category of martial arts but I wasn’t clear on the specifics of what was involved. To be honest I was concerned that the classes could be too aggressive. But after finding out that the Japanese word "Judo" means "gentle way", I was more intrigued.
Judo was founded in 1882 and came to Ireland in 1952, but my main focus was finding out the benefits for kids in 2021. Here’s what I learned:
If kids spend too much time on mobile phones or tablets, they have a negative impact on their ability to concentrate - the great news is that Judo can help improve it. When listening to detailed instructions from their teacher and in turn practising the moves, they need to focus in order to get it right. Judo is a very disciplined sport and if it teaches children to be disciplined while doing something they enjoy, that’s a win, win.
Improved Fitness Levels
We all know that it’s important for kids to be physically active, but sometimes it can be hard to find an activity that they really enjoy. While children are young, it’s a great idea to let them try lots of different sports so that they can find out for themselves what they excel at and what excites them. While lots of boys and girls enjoy soccer, Judo and other martial arts are very different; for one thing, they’re individual sports rather than team sports. Individual sports are good for self-motivation, building a sense of responsibility and mental strength.
Martial arts (including Judo) focus on avoiding violence; if children practise the sport, they’re actually less likely to get involved in fights. This is because they encourage you to have respect for yourself and others and that aggressive behaviour isn’t a solution. Children that take martial arts classes are also less likely to be bullied. They have more confidence in themselves, they can stand up for themselves and they are stronger mentally and physically.
I’ve definitely been won over and my son is now enjoying attending his Judo lessons every week. The next question is whether I should join the adult classes!