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      Why Martial Arts is Great for a Child’s Development

      Children martial arts classes are an excellent complement to traditional team children sports offered by schools. For a variety of reasons, your child can achieve greater physical fitness and development when the usual sports like basketball, football, or baseball are pursued in conjunction with martial arts. Parents may wonder “What is the right age to expose the young one to this ancient and timeless method of achieving fitness and discipline?” Most experts say that by the age of six a child should be ready to understand and participate competently in martial arts. If you’re not convinced of the fitness benefits inherent in this idea, keep reading.

      Discipline and Repetition Equals Fitness

      It’s fascinating to watch a children martial arts class in progress, especially if you are able to witness your own child improve his or her strength, power, balance, and coordination over weeks and months of practice. With this activity, fitness is achieved through discipline. Most people understand that the more times you repeat something, the better you get at it. Practicing martial arts moves and routines is no different, and there aren’t many things in a child’s life that he or she will practice more times than the requirements of training for the next belt.

      This physical expression of “practice makes perfect” burns each single move or routine into the muscle memory, allowing subsequent repetitions to be performed with more power and fluidity as the weeks roll by. This is how discipline contributes to children’s fitness in a tangible way. Increase in the former leads to a higher level of the latter.

      When sparring is added to the mix, the potential level of children’s development goes up even more. It takes balance and coordination to throw oneself into the fray of a controlled battle against a peer. Even though it is a competition, there are still rules and protocols to follow and doing so requires more fitness than to simply lose one’s mind and dive into a sparring match with no self control.

      Nobody Sits Down

      It’s a reality of team sports that not everyone gets to play all the time. The bigger, faster, stronger kids tend to get more playing time while others sit on the bench waiting for their chance to contribute. It’s no knock against team sports; there are valuable lessons learned completely unrelated to actual time in the game. The point is that it’s different in martial arts. Everyone participates to the fullest extent and reaps the maximum possible benefit from taking part.

      In team sports, the majority of the action goes to those who physically develop faster, and late bloomers are left on the bench to wait their turn. A late bloomer who gets into martial arts, though, may be able to close the gap with more skilled peers and improve his or her fitness and coordination to the point that they earn more playing time in their favorite school team sport.

      While a child might not have enough opportunity to hone their skills and coordination in team sports, a martial arts class is an entirely different beast. Participants will practice their skills daily and from the beginning of practice to the end. Though different colored belts are used to designate those who have demonstrated a higher level of skill, any child with the drive to practice can reach the next level.

      Battling Childhood Obesity

      Childhood obesity is considered an epidemic in much of the developed world and in the United States in particular. Regardless of which martial arts style chosen, no child in the class goes without being put through his or her paces daily. Warm up calisthenics and stretching, active games, sparring, and practicing moves fill the time between the start and end of a practice session. Defeating obesity through fitness is all about movement.

      Children’s fitness is developed on a couple of different fronts. First, their muscles naturally develop through regular physical strain, while, at the same time, a stronger cardiovascular system can’t help but do the same. A martial arts class is an almost continuous block of activity that lasts up to an hour or longer. Even the most active of team sports (like basketball) can’t match that level of action, broken up as it is by breaks for quarters and timeouts and the shuffling in and out of substitutes. Even the best players aren’t on the floor the entire game.

      Defending Yourself Takes Effort

      Every organized martial art spends a substantial amount of time teaching various forms of self defense. For many of the same reasons we’ve mentioned, time spent in the focused moves of learning effective tactics to take care of one’s self in a dangerous situation relies on a premium level of fitness. At the same time, there may be nothing more critical to children’s development than to learn how to stay safe and alive in the event someone tries to do them harm.

      In a conflict, assuming the skillets are roughly equal, who is more likely to come out on top? We’re going to crawl out on a limb here and suggest it will probably be the one with more strength and faster reflexes – in other words, a higher level of physical fitness.

      The Bottom Line

      While this article focuses primarily on the physical fitness benefits to be gained by participating in martial arts, it’s difficult to separate out a single aspect of this sport for the sake of examination. The philosophy behind any martial art is rooted in a few thousand or more years of dedication to achieving as close to perfect control over body and mind as humanly possible. As your child moves into the vicinity of five years of age, a thoughtful parent should consider exposing him or her to martial arts in addition to traditional team children sports to see if there is any natural interest.

      3 Reasons Why Martial Arts is the Right Activity for 2017

      Ready to Start 2017 with a New Habit? Don’t Miss These 3 Top Reasons Why Martial Arts is the Right Activity for 2017
      As the new year begins, are you on the hunt for a new exercise routine? Do you want to try something new and exciting — but you also want to make sure you’re getting the most out of the time you put into your hour of exercise? Do you want to tone, trim and get strong?

      If you’re ready to change your exercise regime for 2017, then look no further than a martial practice such as Kung-Fu. Not only is martial training a precise and beautiful
      practice that will improve your balance and strength — but it has many health benefits, including boosting your self-confidence and helping you lose weight.

      If you’re ready to see a change in 2017, then read on to get our top three reasons why martial practices if the right activity for you! Don’t miss out on what training can do to elevate and push you forward in the new year. Here is why:

      Reason #1: Get a Complete Body Workout

      One of the greatest benefits of this ancient practice is that it works every muscle in your body. When you exercise this way and really lean into the moves — you’ll be engaging a total body workout that not only will make you sweat it out but will help you rest better at night.

      Many people get hung up on exercise regimes that engage only one core muscle — like the legs in the case of running. But martial arts take a total-body workout to an entirely new level.

      When you get done with your firs class, you will have burned hundreds of calories in an hour that will completely smoke whatever exercise you had reserved for the treadmill or elliptical machine.

      Reason #2: Build Muscles

      Not only should you expect to lose weight when you incorporate a regular martial practice into your lifestyle, but you should expect to gain some back via muscles. You use your core body to build those muscles and to grow stronger every day through the practice — and you’ll begin to notice your arms and legs begin to show some definition over time. As you engage that muscle mass and tone it up — your metabolism becomes smarter and more efficient — and you begin to burn even more calories.

      That gives you the chance to choose healthy, protein-rich foods to eat to replace those calories, which will further help build your muscles and keep your body super strong over time.

      In addition, you’ll build your balance as you build your muscles and make your reflexes stronger as you face your opponent and develop the practice. All in all, all of these sub-benefits go back to the core you are strengthening via martial exercises — and that’s something few sports and practices can offer with the kind of targeted precision that a martial practice can!

      Reason #3: Watch Your Self-Confidence Soar

      This practice is both an individual and a group one — and that means you’ll be able to be both introspective when it counts and more social when you need to open up and build relationships and trust. You will be training in a community and learning to set goals for yourself. You will be learning from those who have gone before you and getting better with your moves over time. You will have someone there with you all along the way.

      You’ll be encouraged and spurred on by your teachers and classmates — and that will drive you to continue reaching high for your goals and getting that form right. When you finally reach your goal, you will look back and feel confident and empowered knowing you mastered and executed such beautiful, strong moves.

      Martial practices also teaches good ethics and morals — such as kindness and patience. As you practice these arts you begin to adopt some of these practices and let them infuse your life throughout the day.

      That’s because martial arts is so good at helping you focus, establish the right frame of mind, accepting what you can and cannot do, working toward a goal, giving it your best and finally, being content with what the practice has gifted to you. You can’t ask anymore than that — and at the end of the day, you’ll be incredibly happy for the peace you feel through the practice. It teaches us all how to be better human beings — and that will infuse your work and personal life for years to come!

      Ready to Sign Up for Your First Class?

      Many people you would never think of liking marital arts do. Why? Because they see the many incredible benefits this beautiful practice gives them in their lives. From improving reflexes, to toning muscles to empowering athletes all over the world — marital arts becomes the conduit to a healthy lifestyle.

      It’s normal to feel hesitant or to be afraid that you can’t follow this practice or that you’ll get hurt. It also can be overwhelming at first to wonder whether you can really do it — but you can. You have to take one step at a time. You have to be committed to growing as an athlete and to know that you have limitations just like everyone else. The key to getting involved in this healthy practice is to take what you can from it — but not too judge yourself because you aren’t at a certain perceived level.

      If you’re thinking about this for 2017, take our advice and try it. Just take that first step and sign up for your first class. Take it slowly and practice. Join the community that you find in your class and enjoy the journey. You’ll find your mind is more peaceful — and your body starts to trim and tone. Happy New Year!

      How to Keep Your Child Active

      How To Keep Your Child Active

      Keeping your child active throughout their formative years is essential to ensuring that they grow up to be healthy and strong. There are many methods that you can use to encourage your child to be as active as possible. It’s recommended that you try several of the following, as what’s beneficial for one child might not be for another.

      Sign Your Child Up For a Martial Arts Class

      Martial arts is one of the premier types of physical activity for a child, as it provides a wide range of benefits. Martial arts classes will keep your child healthy and fit, while also providing them with the tools necessary to develop useful skills that will help them later in life. Classes of this nature have the added advantage of being very fun to participate in, so your child should require very little convincing to consider attending martial arts classes.

      Not only does practicing martial arts keep your child active, it also boosts their strength, balance, coordination and speed. These classes have been known to assist children in the development of positive character traits, while also helping them learn problem solving skills. A healthy self-esteem is also essential to a child’s development, which martial arts classes can provide. These classes can be even more fun for your child if they attend with a friend.

      Act As a Role Model

      One of the most important aspects of getting your kid to actually be interested in staying active is to be active yourself as well. Being a role model to your child in this regard has proven to work wonders in pushing them to start enjoying these activities. Consider planning an active family outing that everyone in the family can enjoy together.

      Limit TV and Computer Time

      Getting your children to spend their free time wisely is oftentimes a tricky thing to do. In order to promote a more active lifestyle, consider placing a limit on the amount of time your child can spend on the TV and computer during the day. It’s recommended that total screen time across all electronic devices is limited to around 1-2 hours each day. Encourage your child to spend their free time doing some sort of physical activity.

      Choose a Physical Activity Depending on Age

      Not all types of physical activity are suitable for younger children. For instance, the types of activities that a five year old might find interesting and fun can differ greatly from what a 13 year old enjoys. There are also certain activities that are suitable for all ages, such as riding bicycles and swimming. As your child grows older, start to suggest additional types of physical activities that will expand their interests and keep them active. These activities can include martial arts, hiking, school sports or even yoga.

      Make Sure Physical Activity Is Fun Instead of Overdone

      Many adults that attempt to stay active are put off of it by working out too strenuously at the very beginning. This issue is particularly difficult to navigate when it comes to children, as the best way to ensure that a child stays active is for the physical activities they participate in to be fun, instead of feeling like work. Tell your child that they need to pay attention to what their body is telling them. When they start to feel some slight pain or frustration when working out, they need to understand that this is the exact time when they need to quit and move on to less demanding activities.
      Overdoing a physical activity is not only painful, but can be a huge detriment to actually enjoying the physical activity. In order to make sure that your child isn’t overdoing it, pay attention to their weight. If it drops too much, this may be a sign that they’re working out too strenuously. You also don’t want the physical activities they do to interfere with their workout. To avoid this, try to make a scheduled time for your child to complete these physical activities. This schedule will act as a reminder to them as well.

      Suggesting a Variety of Activities Will Keep Your Child Interested

      The key towards keeping your child active is for that child to find an activity, or multiple activities, that they will be interested in. While you might find baseball fun, your child might not and could quickly grow bored of it. You want them to develop their interests on their own, so simply encourage your child by providing them with a list of suggestions. There are a many physical activities that can be enjoyed by both boys and girls. Soccer, basketball, gymnastics, hide-and-seek and jumping rope are just some of the many activities that you should recommend. Even when a child enjoys something at one time, this doesn’t mean that they will continue to enjoy that activity months down the road.
      This is another reason as to why it’s so important that they try out several different physical activities. It’s also important to understand that children need three basic types of exercise, including aerobic, bone-strengthening and muscle-strengthening exercises. For aerobic exercises, running, biking and swimming are some of the most popular among children. Muscle-strengthening exercises include everything from climbing to sit-ups and push-ups, though children might find gymnastics more fun. As for bone-strengthening exercises, suggest activities like jumping rope and tennis to your child.

      Provide the Toys and Equipment Necessary For Physical Activities

      It’s important that your child has all of the toys and equipment necessary for the physical activities that they enjoy. For instance, if your child is interested in play soccer with a school team, make sure that they have all of the padding, shoes and equipment that’s necessary for such an activity. If not, they will quickly grow bored and won’t see the point in continuing. Keeping active toys around the home, such as a jumping rope and light weights, will encourage physical activity.

      Great Healthy Snacks for Kids

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      Finding great healthy snacks for kids is an ongoing challenge for every parent. With busy schedules, fixed grocery budgets and the discerning palates of children, making healthy choices is a process often pushed aside. Fortunately, parents and kids can work together to choose healthy options that are affordable and easy to find in the grocery store.

       

      Snacks with Cheese

      Adding protein such as cheese to a child’s snack helps the child to feel full while preventing the sugar high that sends kids bouncing off the walls. Most kids enjoy mild flavored medium-hard cheeses such as cheddar, Monterey Jack and Colby. Some snacks to try with cheese include:

      •Cheese paired with whole-grain crackers
      •Cheese and fruit kabobs
      •Quesadillas with cheese, refried black beans and salsa for dipping
      •Pinwheels made with a tortilla, cheese, and hummus or meat, rolled up and sliced into rounds
      •Cheese flowers, which are cheese shapes cut out with cookie cutters and put onto pretzel stick “stems”

       

      Peanut Butter

      So long as a child is not allergic to nuts, peanut butter is an affordable, filling and easy option for many different snacks. Some creative options include:

      •Spread on celery and line with raisins for “ants on a log”
      •Spread onto tortillas and drizzle with honey for an alternative to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
      •Use as a spread on mini waffles or rice cakes

       

      Yogurt

      Yogurt contains live active cultures that can help kids who are prone to belly aches. With so many styles of yogurt, including Greek yogurt, fruit-filled yogurt and mousse-style yogurt, there’s sure to be a flavor to please even the pickiest eaters. Parents can serve yogurt as a snack in these ways:

      •Mixed with pureed fruit and frozen into popsicles
      •Made into a parfait with layers of fresh fruit and granola
      •Mixed with frozen fruit and almond milk or apple juice as a smoothie

       

      Fruit

      Sweet fresh fruit is a staple in the homes of many families. To keep this snack affordable, stick with seasonal fruits such as apples in the fall, oranges in winter and strawberries in the summer. Some creative ways to serve fruit to children include:

      •Mixed into oatmeal
      •Added to cold cereal
      •Cut and ready for dipping into yogurt

      These great healthy snacks for kids are quick to make. They are also easy to bring while on the go, just put them into a reusable lunch sack.

       

      Ways to Help Prevent Childhood Obesity

      Obesity has become a major health problem over the past few decades. While losing weight and getting healthy is difficult for adults, the problem is even more challenging when talking about childhood obesity.

      No person ever wants to be overweight, but unhealthful eating choices and too little exercise are firmly ingrained habits that are difficult to change. Some of the blame can be placed on parents who do not understand the health risks of obesity, but more often children gain weight because their parents lead a busy life and choose convenience foods over healthful foods.

       

      Combating Childhood Obesity

       

      Stock the Kitchen with Healthful Foodsavoid childhood obesity

      While most kids will gravitate toward snacks with too much sugar, fat and salt, they will enjoy more nutritious fruits and nuts just as much. It is important to limit between meal snacks so the children will be interested in eating the healthful meals that are served.

      It is also important that parents limit serving sizes and make sure children are eating a balanced diet.

       

      Limit or Eliminate Soda and Sweetened Drinks

      There is a high concentration of sugar in soda and sweetened beverages. Children should drink an adequate amount of water in addition to milk and natural fruit juices to get the nutrients they need while avoiding the sugars that can contribute to childhood obesity.

      Parents should not keep any beverages containing artificial sweeteners in their home because they are also unhealthful.

       

      Encourage Physical Activity in Children

      Young children have a natural tendency to run and play, but too much exposure to electronic devices such as computers and television can make electronic entertainment more tempting as they grow older.

      Parents who are busy working and maintaining a home may appreciate the peace and quiet in their home while the kids are watching TV or playing computer games, but these activities must be limited.

      Unfortunately, it is not always safe to allow kids outside to play with their friends, so parents should make it a point to get out with them and enjoy physical activities together.

      Parents must make healthful food and lifestyle choices for their children, and most of them will when they realize the importance of good health for their kids.

      The incidence of childhood obesity, diabetes and the development of heart disease can be greatly reduced when parents are able to help their children maintain a healthy weight. Obese children also suffer from poor self-esteem, and this can limit their outlook for a positive future and fulfilled life.

       

      Proper Nutrition Improves Childhood Obesity Statistics

      According to the CDC, childhood obesity rates have tripled over the last thirty years. In 2010, 18% of children ages six to eleven were considered obese. Numbers like these are occurring all over the country, causing alarm among the medical community.

      As these rates continue to rise, it is certain more and more children will become victims of obesity, threatening their health and their lives. Many in the medical community are working to see what can be done to stop the onslaught of this epidemic.

      Through research, it has been found the foods being consumed by children are putting their health at great risk and causing weight issues like have never been seen before.

       

      Childhood obesity and kid’s dietschildhood obesity

      Why Is the Diet of Today’s Children Such a Concern?

      Very few children these days are getting the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) of the healthy foods containing the vitamins and minerals needed for proper growth and body function. Not only are children not eating the proper foods, but they are eating way too much.

      The average child eats hundreds of calories more than they should in a day. Between the ages of seven and ten, children should consume between 1500 and 2000 calories, depending on their age and sex.

       

      Food choice heavily impacts childhood obesity

      One of the biggest worries among the medical community is children are eating more fast food, fried foods, candy and soda than ever before. If your child consumes a 4-piece chicken nugget happy meal, they have already consumed about a third of the calories they need in a day. This can be even greater if your child chooses to up the size of their meal to a Mighty meal.

      Though the schools are trying to do their part in helping provide children with proper nutrition, they are failing in many ways. Pizza, fried nuggets and fries are not making for healthy kids.

       

      Curbing childhood obesity

      To improve the health of your child and prevent or reverse obesity, you need to offer your child a wide variety of healthy fruits and vegetables. Snacks should be offered in the form of fresh fruits and vegetable sticks. It is also important to get your child moving as much as possible.

      Studies have shown active children who have plenty of opportunities for active play, weigh less than those who sit around and play video games or watch TV.

      Through a healthy diet, exercise for kids and your supervision over their health, your child’s weight will improve along with their health.

      Child fitness strategies need to be enacted at home to work

      kids-exercising

       

      In recent years the epidemic of childhood obesity has gained notoriety in the media for being a serious issue facing our youth. Countless studies have been cited and statistics trotted out to the increasingly concerned public, and in response, elected officials have begun making policy changes aimed at increasing child fitness through better nutrition and health education.

      As a result, the meals that many schools provide are beginning to include more healthy options and PSA’s stress the importance of getting children physically active for at least 60 minutes a day.  These well-meaning initiatives are certainly a step in the right direction towards improving child fitness on a national scale, but these sweeping policies can also provide a false sense of security for parents.

       

      General programs aren’t enough

      Some schools have been able to make changes to their lunch program by making healthy food options more accessible to students and now provide better education on the importance of being in good physical shape. But for those that haven’t – due to lack of funding, staff or resources – many of these programs fall on deaf ears.

      Budgets are tight for schools and youth-service organizations across the country. Among the first things being cut are gym classes and after-school recreational activities. Meanwhile, healthy food options usually cost more than the more traditional choices many of us grew up with.

       

      wellness

       

      Even if schools are offering these resources to their students, parents can easily get the wrong impression that these steps are enough for their child to be healthy. It is this false sense of security that parents need to overcome.

      Ultimately the health of a child falls on the responsibility of the parents. They need to be the ones to ensure that their children are eating healthy foods at home – and when they’re at school that they’re actually choosing the healthy meal options. They also need to get their children to be physically active for a meaningful amount of time each day.

       

      The role parents play

      School and public programs only go so far into changing the habits of children. For any long-term changes to be achieved, the message needs to be reinforced at home by their parent or guardian at a young enough age when habits are still being formed. In most cases family involvement will determine the success or failure of these programs in improving child fitness.

      Children can learn all about the food pyramid and the need for aerobic activity, but unless the message is reinforced and mirrored at home the lessons are unlikely to sink in.

      Parents need to make healthy meals and plan physical activities at home so that children receive the lessons we want them to learn in a consistent and organized way. This might include such things as:

      • involving children in grocery shopping by helping them pick out fresh fruits and vegetables
      • having them help you prepare nutritious meals (let them toss the salad!)
      • go on family bike rides
      • play in the yard or at the park with them
      • set good examples by eating healthy and remaining physically active

       

      Take initiative for their sake

      It might be easy to assume that the lessons children at school about fitness is enough to create a lasting change in the decisions they make about their health, but sadly that’s not the case.

      And it might also be easy to say that because of busy schedules or other commitments that continuing any good lessons taught at school or through after-school activities at home is too difficult. But what you must remember is that these teachable moments are shaping the life-long habits to ensure the health and well-being of your child. And nothing can be more important than that.

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      Ed Holpfer