Friday, September 15, 2017

Martial Arts is Fantastic for homeschool kids, but they MUST fight to really get its benefit

KJ (in Black) fighting a boy her age in the ring at a dojo about 30 minutes away from ours
Martial Arts is an integral part of our family life.  The way some families focus on gymnastics, or cheer, or band, or soccer, or whatever, we do martial arts.  Well, almost like that as unlike many families that do those other things, I actually participate myself.  That is, I study and apply Martial Arts myself, taking classes, sparing, and work on belts with the same vigor as my girls do.

Dy drilling from Closed-
Guard on Joey..... Joey the
dummy, at one point referred
to as KJ's boyfriend! 
For those uninitiated in Martial Arts, at a very high level Martial Arts can be broken down into two broad level groups, armed (knife for example) and unarmed.  Within these two groups you could categorize based on striking -aka- hard (boxing for example) and grappling -aka- soft (wrestling for example).  Don't let the hard and soft monikers fool you, as they are references to energy transfer approaches between combatants, as both hard and soft styles can debilitate a foe.  Within these categories, you find styles which are collections of approaches with a particular strategic view on, and collection of tactics for, how to win in a combative scenario.

KJ drilling an Arm-Bar
practicing her BJJ
Putting all this together, here is an example:  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a very popular style of unarmed fighting that is based on grappling using a strategy of close contact with the opponent while taking a fight to the ground.  The tactics used in BJJ are typically joint-locks, choke holds, and leverage thus enabling a physically weaker opponent to use superior skill to win in a
physical altercation.

Our base, or primary style, is Shito Ryu Karate.  Beyond its unfortunate name, it is an amazing blend of Karate styles that emphasizes a number of things to include copious amounts of Katas (choreographed fighting sequences) and Sparring (controlled fights).  While Shito Ryu is our foundation style, we also take classes and spar in Muy Thai Kickboxing, Judo, Boxing, and BJJ.  These other styles bring in variety, provide interesting challenges, and give insights back into our Shito Ryu practice.  This would probably be akin to a child focusing on the piano, practicing it for hours, taking private classes, etc. but then also branching out to learn the harpsichord and drums.  They may not be experts in those latter two instruments, but they could carry a tune and it helps their appreciation of the piano, and for music as a whole.

Over the years, a number of parents have asked for advice on picking a style and school for their kids.  I will put together a post on this, but the critical element is ensuring that the school actually has the kids spar at least once a week.  Learning moves (locks, punches, throws, kicks, etc) is like learning words, Katas and/or Drills are like learning sentence structure, but sparring is like having a conversation.

While visiting another dojo, Dy (in black) was put in the ring with a girl
her age (8) who was new to sparring, so Dy helped her gain confidence
by keeping the fight controlled and a quality learning experience for the novice
fighter. Such experiences help Dy learn to be a better leader and martial artist. 
Martial Arts provides a huge array of wonderful benefits to anyone who practices them.  The obvious ones are confidence, discipline, respect, health, and the ability to defend yourself.  Beyond these you will find an amazing camaraderie, a pursuit of excellence, loads of physics, leadership, and more!  For homeschoolers, this is an easy way to not only incorporate PE requirements but broaden your kids social circle to other kids who have a drive for excellence and a competitive spirit.

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