Is Teaching Martial Arts to Children ‘Dangerous’?
The Truth All Parents & Teachers Need To Hear
At InPower, there’s one question we hear time and time again from parents or governors considering a Martial Arts program at their school.
“Will our kids get hurt?”
One distressed parent even asked “You’re not going to throw my child in a Boxing Ring and make him fight, are you...?!”
The concerns are understandable. The explosive fame of shows like The Ultimate Fighting Championship, tend to polarise opinions and exaggerate stereotypes.
To counter the misconceptions, I’d first like to clarify the precise amount of ‘physicality’ offered on our Martial Arts & Boxing programs. Second, we’ll take a look through the facts & figures of recent investigations into sports-related injuries for schoolchildren.
At InPower, we define our programs as “semi-contact”.
InPower CIC currently offer three programs; The Unbreakables, Warriors of Wellbeing & Kids Boxercise.
- Kids Boxercise is 100% non-contact Boxing. Our students learn the drills & skills of the sport, as well as boost their self-confidence and fitness levels.
- The Unbreakables & Warriors of Wellbeing are “semi-contact”. Students enjoy the same Boxing pad-work drills as our Boxercise program, but are also able to participate in experiences of Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
➡️For these practises students will perform certain drills, as demonstrated by their Instructor, in pairs. With their partners, they will hone a range of techniques centered around escaping or disengaging from their partner.
➡️In this manner, they will be ‘in contact’ with their partners, purely in order to perform the techniques, hence our definition “semi-contact”.
We believe this provides a balance of healthy physicality, plus all the benefits of contact ‘scenarios’, while mitigating the risk of injury.
But for many parents, the misconceptions about the risk-level of Martial Arts remain. A frequent assumption is that Martial Arts are more ‘dangerous’ and result in more injuries than other activities.
But what do the statistics say?
The figures may surprise you!
The most comprehensive study to-date, is the American 2015 Report run by Safe Kids Worldwide. Despite its full-contact format in America, and wide-spread popularity, Wrestling resulted in only 38,900 injuries for the year, lagging far behind the front-runners of Football (354,300), Basketball (359,300) and Soccer (171,00).
In fact, Wrestling only narrowly caused more injury than Cheerleading (35,200) and Volleyball (34,700), which aren’t typically known for being ‘dangerous’ sports..!
The Stanford Children’s Health Department also notes a surprise candidate for the most dangerous ‘sport’ for children; Cycling..! 200,000 Emergency room admissions of children aged 5 to 14 for casual bike-riding, in a single year.
So, if Martial Arts are too dangerous, then by the same reasoning we wouldn’t allow our children to ride a bike, go for a swim, bounce on a trampoline, or kick a ball around in the park..!
Many of us on the InPower Team are parents ourselves. We understand the instinct to keep our children out of harm’s way. Caring for our kids’ well-being is one thing, but we might consider the need to draw the line between healthy concern... and wrapping our kids in cotton-wool :)
So those are some of the misconceptions, but what about the benefits?
Why do we believe so passionately in Boxing & Martial Arts for school children?
I’ll summarise as best I can. (Ask me in person and you’ll be subject to a very long and impassioned rant ?)
- Two of the foundational principles of Martial Arts are Discipline & Respect. Our students learn to appreciate the value of discipline; to begin to understand it as a tool for their own empowerment, not a restraining order on their freedom. They learn about the importance of respect, not just for their Coach, but for their training partners too. When these values translate across to the classroom, that’s where we find their greatest impact.
- There is no avoiding the fact that many of our pupils face adversity in their personal lives. The practise of Martial Arts equips them with a means to channel the negative emotions caused by these challenges, and prevent them from spilling over into challenging behaviour. Second, it provides them with inspiration, grit and determination to understand that, no matter their past, they can empower themselves for a better future.
3) Many of our stand-out star pupils are students with diagnoses of a range of Mental Health Difficulties These vary from Aspergers, Autism Spectrum and ADHD. Stay tuned for our upcoming case studies, where you will have a chance to meet some of our star SEN participants!
4) The surprising truth is, the most vulnerable children in the Midlands are the most likely to join a gang or carry a knife. Lacking any concrete sense of identity, they are easy prey for gangs to manipulate and groom. If not that, they are more likely to carry a knife out of fear for their safety, rather than malicious intent.
Martial Arts provides children with a concrete sense of self, and the safety of a weekly structure to keep them off the streets & out of trouble. This equips them against the threat of negative influences.
5) 79% of UK school children fail to meet recommended fitness levels. Sedentary lifestyles and heavy screen-time are commonly cited culprits. Our children spend their day sat at desks, and their evenings on the sofa. This has been described as a “ticking-time bomb” for future health-concerns; diabetes, cancer, strokes & dementia.
To counter this crisis, not only do Martial Arts provide all the benefits of the exercise ‘wonder-drug’; they also encourage better eating habits, as our students find increasing motivation to stay healthy & fit.
? But don’t forget, we don’t just focus on the physical! ?
The truth is, Martial Arts are 50% a physical endeavour, and 50% a mental endeavour.
At InPower, although we appreciate the positive impact of fitness-focused courses, we strive to offer a more holistic program.
The importance we place on our reflective journaling & group discussion exercises, reflects this.
Away from their Smartphone-screen distractions, the quiet time sat with their journals creates a sacred space for our students to press pause on life. A chance to sit with and process, certain difficulties they face in their lives, both at home and at school. Journaling helps our participants find direction and uncover their life-goals & values.
The result? The emergence of a sense of identity, purpose and meaning.
In an age where school-children carry knives out of fear, or fall prey to the deceit of gangs, there is nothing dangerous about equipping our children with the necessary life-skills to choose a better path.
Thanks for reading
PS. To view our full range of programs, please visit our link below: https://www.inpower.co.uk/activities-2/