Martial Arts for Young Teens
Adolescence is defined as the stage in a child’s life when they begin transitioning into young adults. Early adolescence can begin as early as age 9 and continue until about age 19. This is a transformative but often confusing and difficult time in their lives. Not only physically, but mentally, psychologically, and socially, their worlds are transforming at a rapid pace. We’ve all been there, and we understand the pressure they feel as they must make increasingly harder choices that will affect their future.
Teens need exercise
In addition to keeping the body active and healthy, exercise provides several additional benefits for teens. One of the greatest benefits teens will see from exercise will be the release of brain-boosting chemicals. Of these chemicals, let’s focus on three major chemicals released during exercise that will benefit your teens mental health.
This is one of the most commonly talked about chemicals associated with exercise. Endorphins serve a major role in reducing anxiety and stress and boosting self-esteem. For teens, this can be a crucial part of their overall happiness. This is likely the first time in their lives they have truly started to be introduced to stress and how quickly it can compound. It’s easy for them to be overwhelmed by the expectations of teachers, parents, and peers so it’s important to give them an outlet that will help combat that feeling.
Norepinephrine is both a brain chemical and hormone released during exercise by the brain and adrenal glands. Norepinephrine plays a crucial aspect in keeping you alert and focused, and boosts memory retrieval. For teens, this means they’re more likely to succeed in school if they can increase the release of norepinephrine more often.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor:
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF for short, is one of the most important proteins found in the brain. Its main function is to support the survival of neurons and encourage the growth of new neurons which will develop new synapses in the brain. The reason BDNF is so important is because it active in areas of the brain such as the hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain – which are areas vital to learning, long-term memory, and higher thinking. In short, BDNF plays a crucial role in overall development! While it has many of the same benefits as norepinephrine, this is a more complex protein and more essential aspect. Exercise is key to developing these important chemicals in the brains.
We’ve established a few reasons why kids need physical exercise, but why do they need martial arts?
Martial arts serves as the physical exercise that releases those important chemicals, but it also provides so much more!
For starters, martial arts is founded on 5 important tenants – courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. They will be expected to act appropriately and honorably inside and outside of the dojo. This means we preach those 5 tenants even when they leave our doors, which means students are expected to treat parents, teachers, and peers will utmost respect even when they aren’t in our dojo.
Beyond our 5 basic tenants, our martial arts program for children ages 10-15 focuses on 8 key objectives. The 3 I mention today will answer exactly why your child needs martial arts.
Instinct is our natural reaction to unpredictable circumstances. It’s important to understand that while we often times don’t choose our first natural instinct, we can change our instincts over time.
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Bruce Lee
That quote is applicable to all aspects of our lives. When we practice something over and over, we rebuild our instinctive habits. If I always respond negatively, that becomes my instinctual habit. Likewise, if we teach kids to respond positively, eventually, that could become their natural instinct! We want to build strong, healthy, and happy instincts in children while they’re young.
While instinct is the initial response, reaction is the follow-through. This is the moment when they will have to decide and determine the direction of their challenge. Often times, kids can become emotionally overwhelmed and let their emotions dictate a poor reaction. Martial arts serves as an outlet to let kids release their stress and frustration, but it also teaches them to respond to unwanted situations. We cannot choose the actions of others, but we can choose how we react it. Either you let the actions of others defeat you, or you rise above and conquer them.
Within vision, there are 3 sub-categories: loyalty, control, confidence. These aspects become a solid foundation for developing young adults. Vision is the overall aspect of encouraging our students to look at the bigger picture of their lives and determine what they want to do. One of the best ways we can teach vision to our students is through their student portfolios. In each portfolio, kids have to create short-term goals as well as long-term goals. After figuring out their goals, we have to assess a plan of action that will get them on the right track to achieving those goals. That’s true vision!
While those three objectives are not necessarily physical objectives, they are crucial to a young teen’s martial arts journey. It would do no good to develop the physical attributes without developing the proper mentality of the martial artist. Young teens need as much positive influence as possible, and we hope to serve as one more mentor they can rely on throughout their lives. We can’t stress enough how much we believe in the importance of investing in our children.
“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” — Denis Waitley
Thanks for reading! I loved writing this article! The teenaged years can be a stressful for both the parent and the child. We hope to provide a place for young teens to feel welcomed and accepted, while holding them to a high standard of excellence.
If you enjoyed this article or just want to chat, email me at [email protected]. I love hearing from you!
To a kickin’ week,
P.S. Our official grand opening is August 17th! We’re going to have a bunch of free activities for kids of all ages, as well as some neat raffles for the parents!
We’ll also be hosting a school drive during the entire month! Bring in school supplies and get up $50 off our enrollment fee! Can’t wait to see you there!