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You might give serious thought to enrolling your homeschooled kid(s) in a martial arts class. A good martial arts class can benefit your kid in many ways. How do I know? I’m a fourth-degree black belt in ITF Taekwon-Do, and I’ve been teaching homeschoolers for over twenty years.

The benefits of Martial Arts training go far beyond self-defense and physical conditioning. Here are five “side benefits” that you can expect when your kid begins training:

1. A good martial arts program teaches respect for others.

A misconception many people have about Martial Arts students is that they are likely to become bullies. On the contrary, most instructors place a heavy emphasis on respect. Before I permit students to test for a higher belt rank, their parents must fill out a respect report. This report covers such items as how they treat other family members, friends, teachers, and so on. Do they speak respectfully to their parents? Do they take responsibility for their actions? Are they truthful? Do they abide by family rules? If a student brings in a poor respect report, I will not promote them until it improves.

Before they take their black belt test, I require all my Taekwon-Do students to submit a three-page essay on “what it means to become a black belt.”

2. Training in the Martial Arts cultivates humility.

Although it is true that there are schools where this is not emphasized, many Martial Arts instructors seek to cultivate an attitude of humility in their students. I tell my students that earning a black belt does not mean you have arrived. It means that you have mastered the basics and are now ready to start learning.

3. Learning the Martial Arts builds character.

To accomplish this goal Taekwon-Do begins with the foundation, the individual. The Art strives to develop the character, personality, and positive moral and ethical traits in each practitioner. It is upon this "foundation" of individuals possessing positive attitudes and characteristics that the "end goal" may be achieved.

Taekwon-Do strives to develop the positive aspects of an individual's personality: Respect, Courtesy, Goodness, Trustworthiness, Loyalty, Humility, Courage, Patience, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control, an Indomitable Spirit and a sense of responsibility to help and respect all forms of life. This takes a great deal of hard training and many do not reach far enough to achieve perfection in all of these aspects. However, it is the physical, mental, and spiritual effort which the individual puts forth that develops the positive attributes and image of both the individual and how he or she perceives others.

By now, you might be thinking that most other sports can make the same claims about building character, respect for authority, and perhaps even humility. However, there are benefits that I believe are unique to martial arts training.

4. A child does not need to be athletic to excel in the martial arts.

Over the years, I’ve had many students who were not natural athletes. However, in my Taekwon-Do class they’ve blossomed and grown in self-confidence. Not all have stayed with it all the way to black belt, but many parents have thanked me for how the class has impacted their children.

5. In the Martial Arts, nobody warms the bench.

As students go through my Taekwon-Do class, they learn how to do patterns, spar, self-defense techniques, and various punches and kicks.  Then, we have a tournament once a year where they can demonstrate the skills they have learned. I always tell my students that even in a tournament, they are competing against themselves. The goal isn’t to walk away with all the gold medals, it’s to do their very best.



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