How many of my martial arts friends out there have heard "Oh, I would never enroll my kids in martial arts classes because it teaches violence... "? I don't know how many times I've heard it, and not to mention the times I've heard "So, you don't have a 'real' job? "
Speaking of the martial arts/violence thing, I can see how parents can be misinformed about the nature of martial arts. TV, video games and movies can show the violent, blood spewing, vengeful ("you killed my master! You must die!) stereotypes of martial arts. I'm not going to say that martial arts is all about learning from the old size man at the top of a mountain, learning about the secrets ofbthe Universe, because for the most part, martial arts techniques *can* be violent in its execution. It is also meant as a method of fighting... However when the need arises. (it is a "martial" art after all) Most level headed martial artists would never pick a fight, but would have no qualms about maiming an attacker if their life were in danger.
But, as a martial arts teacher, I'd like to share the benefits that martial arts training can bring to kids:
1)It helps them learn a "standard" and to find ways to achieve a standard.
2)Self discipline : Let's face it, learning to do things you don't know how to do, takes a level of discipline if you want to get good at it.
3) Respect: To learn to see the goodness in other people, to have an open enough mind to realize that not everyone believes in the same thing you do.
4) Work ethics: Martial arts is hard work, it's not some mere activity to take up time. Children learn that hard work breeds success.
5) Teamwork: Children can learn to work in study groups effectively, to learn to contribute to a team effort, and to learn how to incorporate different skills of team members.
6) Recreation: Although it is hard work martial arts does have an intensely fun element.
7) Self defense: kids learn that there is a difference between "fighting" and actual self defense. They learn that it is perfectly okay to walk away from a bully, but know how to handle themselves should the bully become violent. They learn to recognize potentially dangerous situations and to avoid them, but should their safety be in danger, to defend themselves with utmost commitment. Learning de-escalation techniques is also a form of self defense.
8) Appreciation: Kids learn to appreciate not only the skills of senior students or teachers, but to appreciate the wisdom and experience of anybody else, including their parents, school teachers, etc.
9) It teaches them that violence *does* exist, and they're not immune because they live in a "good neighborhood " or are of high social status. This awareness helps them see why all of the aforementioned skills are important to have.
10) It teaches body awareness, coordination, enhances confidence and self esteem with the support of good classmates.
So..... While the kicking, striking, grappling, and weapons techniques of martial arts are indeed "violent", good martial arts teachers for the most part do not "teach" violence. We must look at other influences they are exposed to if they are in fact "learning" violence.
These were just a few benefits..... I welcome other martial artists to chime in with other benefits.