On its surface, the idea of martial arts for children might seem a little problematic. Should we teaching six, seven, eight year olds how to throw a punch or kick? Does a fourteen year old really need to understand the art of submissions? Let us be the first to assure you that the evidence is very clear. Martial arts does not teach children to be violent, regardless of what Cobra Kai might be showcasing. Quite the reverse, actually. Martial arts teaches discipline, self-control, and respect — but there is an important caveat.
The role of the instructor & the school
There is evidence that martial arts practice is actually linked to a decrease in things like aggressive behavior, anger, and hostility in kids, and it’s natural to assume this is because of the improvement in self-confidence and the greater sense of connectedness that comes with training. But these benefits only happen when you have an instructor and a school that prioritizes them.
To go back to Cobra Kai, there’s a stark difference between the philosophies and instructors of Cobra Kai and Miagi-Do. Both profoundly influence the students themselves. Sure, it’s Hollywood, so take it with a grain of salt, but the point still stands — students are absorbing everything that’s being taught to them, and that should absolutely guide your choice of martial arts schools.
In Reno, parents looking for a martial arts academy for their children have options. There are a number of schools and instructor, and each will have their own way of doing things. But those who prioritize things like mutual respect, perseverance, and personal dignity are always going to have a greater, more positive impact.
The Freestyle Martial Arts Difference
These are qualities we emphasize at Freestyle Martial Arts. We offer both a youth program, designed for 8 to 14 year olds, and a preschool program, designed for 4 to 7 year olds. Both programs are structured to meet the needs and abilities of their respective age groups. Our older students learn the Freestyle curriculum of mixed martial arts in a challenging, yet age-appropriate way. While proper technique is a focus, so too are respect, personal responsibility and goal setting.
Younger students learn foundational skills through repetition and drills, with lots of games and fun. We’re proud to have a great instructor-to-student ratio, with head instructors overseeing junior instructors. Patience and productivity are key elements in these classes.
Martial arts for children have been a focus at Freestyle since we opened, and it’s been truly rewarding to see the benefits. Our students aren’t classroom bullies. They aren’t picking fights to show off their martial arts skills. Instead, they’re benefiting from regular exercise and an environment that has a positive impact on their mental health. They’re seeing discipline and respect modeled and expected in return. They’re looking how to pick themselves up after a failure, and the meaning and value of hard work.
If you’re exploring martial arts schools in Reno, the best way to make a decision is in person. Go to the school. Talk to the instructors. Watch a class. Pay attention to the dynamic between instructor and student. Try an introductory class. With the right instructor, martial arts really does benefit just about every child who steps onto the mat, so it’s worth taking some time to find a school that aligns with your goals.