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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.

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      3 Times Martial Arts Helped Shape History

      3 Times Martial Arts Helped Shape History

      Asia is widely considered to be the birthplace of the martial arts. Historically used for combat and self-defense, varied techniques sprang up independently in India, China, Japan and other parts of Asia. The birthplace of many disciplines can be traced to India and China, and there’s evidence as far back as the 3rd Century B.C.E. that martial arts techniques were in use. At certain points in history, the martial arts have had a noticeable impact in shaping events. Generally, there was a historical figure who led this cultural shift, and three of the most influential were Bodhidharma of India, Gichin Funakoshi of Okinawa and Bruce Lee of Hong Kong.

      BODHIDHARMA & KUNG FU – 527 C.E.

      China had developed its own martial arts, but it was a military form used for combat. It wasn’t until the influence of an Indian, Bodhidharma, that Chinese martial arts evolved into the Kung Fu we see today, a more holistic practice that trains the body and mind.

      India had a form of martial arts called Kalaripayattu that involved agility, fitness and wise use of the body’s energy. A Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma introduced this style of fighting to China when he traveled there to spread the philosophy of Buddhism. When he eventually went to live with the Shaolin monks, he found them lacking in physical health and stamina, so he began teaching them Kalaripayattu. This discipline evolved over time and became Shaolin Kung Fu.

      The spread of the martial arts in monasteries has given rise to the popular myth that these techniques were primarily created by “Buddhist monks, Taoist hermits or Confucian scholars.” In fact, Bodhidharma was trained in the military arts as the son of a minor ruler. It was only after he traveled to China and began living and training with the Shaolin monks that he became one himself.

      In China, however, the martial arts had mostly practiced by lower classes like the military and bodyguards. Bodhidharma helped strengthen the concept of the martial arts as a spiritual practice as well as a fighting and self-defense discipline. He emphasized breathing techniques and the cultivation of bio-energy (ki in Karate). Bhodidharma combined meditation with physical training and, eventually, he also became the founder of Zen Buddhism.

      Bodhidharma’s life story is an example of the will, perseverance and endurance that made up the foundation of his teachings. The moves and techniques he taught are now collectively referred to as Kung Fu. His contribution to history is seen in the elevation of the martial arts to a physical and spiritual practice that is accepted in all classes of society in China.

      GICHIN FUNAKOSHI & KARATE – 1917

      The martial arts of China influenced the people of Japan, and they also developed their own fighting and self-defense techniques. Karate began in Okinawa, a chain of islands between China and Japan that were then a separate kingdom. For over a century, starting in 1477, weapons were outlawed on the three islands of Okinawa. This caused early Karate to go underground and, if anything, strengthened the desire for the art to be maintained and preserved. In 1875, the Japanese took over Okinawa and made it part of Japan. After that, these original forms of Karate were allowed to flourish.

      Cooperation and peace between Okinawa and Japan were facilitated by the sharing of Karate. In 1917, Okinawa native Gichin Funakoshi demonstrated Karate techniques in a match with a Japanese martial arts expert, and he won the match. Funakoshi stayed on in Japan to teach Karate to the Japanese people. The open and peaceful relationship between Okinawa and Japan flourished to a great extent because of this sharing of Karate with the mainland.

      As in Kung Fu, Karate has an underlying spiritual component. Funakoshi created his own form of Karate, called Karate-Do, and he considered it to be “education for life itself.” The form of Karate he demonstrated in Japan and practiced during his life was called Shotokan. It was a synthesis of Funakoshi’s own style and the different types of Karate that originated in Okinawa.

      BRUCE LEE & JEET KUN DO – 1960’s

      Although born in San Francisco, Bruce Lee was raised in Hong Kong from the age of three months. A great artist will influence others, and Bruce Lee is well known across the world as a martial arts master whose influence caused a shift in the way people look at the practice.

      Lee began his training in the art of Kung Fu (Gung Fu), eventually developing Jeet Kun Do (JKD), which translates to “the way of the intercepting fist.” Lee didn’t regard this form of martial arts as a method or style, but as a set of principles for developing the mind and body. He borrowed from several Kung Fu styles, including Taekwondo, and also incorporated elements of wrestling and boxing into Jeet Kun Do.

      Bruce Lee’s television and movie projects popularized martial arts around the world. He developed the popular U.S. television show Kung Fu for himself, but David Carradine was given the leading role. The show had a great influence on the understanding of the martial arts in the U.S. This was the first time many people realized that the practice had a spiritual, meditative component, and didn’t exist merely for fighting and self-defense.

      Continuing mental and physical development, along with improving coordination and power, are the lynchpins of Jeet Kun Do. In the formation of JKD, Lee contributed to breaking with martial arts traditions. He believed in throwing out techniques that didn’t work and embracing those that did. Bruce Lee can be credited with opening up the world of martial arts to experimentation and growth. Through his martial arts movies, he also helped usher in an era of increased understanding of the martial arts throughout the world, not just in the U.S. and Asia. He saw himself as a “bridge between the East and the West.”

      Bodhidharma, Gichin Funakoshi and Bruce Lee all highlighted the importance of the martial arts and influenced world culture. Bodhidharma was the founder of Kung Fu and strengthened the spiritual component of Chinese martial arts. Gichin Funakoshi refined and popularized Karate, and contributed to the good relations between Japan and its newly acquired territory of Okinawa. Bruce Lee introduced the philosophy and techniques of the martial arts to a global audience and increased our understanding of the philosophy that goes along with it.

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      3 Ways to Help Your Child Improve Their Focus

      Does your child find it difficult to concentrate on one thing? There are many factors why children have difficulty in focusing, especially in the learning process. You probably want to teach your child something they need to learn while their young. The problem may be is that his attention span is very short.

      Although it’s normal for children to get busy with common distractions, some children seem to be so distracted, they are hard to catch like mice. They are not just active but hyperactive. If that is the case, your child may be suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. You may have thought that you might go to your local physician and get Adderall prescribed, but after thorough research decided the side-effects outweigh the benefits.

      The good news is that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be dealt with through several natural solutions, and today we will go over the three ways to help improve your child’s focus. Let’s get started!

      Three Top Focusing Techniques for Your Child

      1. Proper Diet

      Many people know that eating a healthy diet is good for your body and as parents, we know this is true as well for our children. However, today it seems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is running rampant among children and several adults. Much of this has to deal with what we eat, and studies have shown that the food additives play a big factor in increasing these symptoms in both children and adults.

      Although it may seem difficult in our rushed society eating a diet that is not processed seems to be an ideal solution. It’s really quite simple, if it has more than one ingredient, it’s probably best not to eat that food. It’s been shown that many food additives that are used in the US today are toxic to our systems and even have been banned in other countries due to their harmful effects in the body.

      Some doctors claim that you can reverse attention deficit disorder through your diet. This goes back to the principles of having unnatural ingredients in your foods and if you in turn remove these from your diet totally, and include proper dietary supplements that you can in turn be free from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

      2. Focused Games and Visual Entertainment

      Focused Games and visual entertainment can improve a child’s attention span greatly. Games like puzzles, chess, and Lego’s can stimulate your child mental clarity and learn on attention the detail. The point is here that they redirect their attention to a mind-stimulating activity. You as the adult only have to show your child the basic steps and then let them take over with these types of games.

      When it comes to visual entertainment, it’s been proven through studies that through that you can stimulate your brain to learn and concentrate using educational video-games. This helps your child to concentrate with their limited attention span when other ideas might come off as boring.

      There are other visual educational ways to help teach children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and many of these ways have been tried and tested by teachers who participate with these students first hand using color stimulus and other creative cognitive strategies.

      3. High-Quality Focused-Based Sports

      Hyperactive children seem to need to be everywhere at once and can’t sit still. By satisfying their need of exerting their energy this can be a God-send for parents. This will also let them expel their energy while letting them redirect their mental stimulation.
      Exercise helps deal with those who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder by raising the dopamine levels in the brain. Exercise has been effective to build self-esteem and teamwork within a co-op sports environment.

      There are many sports you can enroll your child in and you can try one at a time to see if they like it or not, some of these include tennis, gymnastics, wrestling, soccer, horseback riding, archery, and baseball.

      However, one of the best sports to be involved in that will help improve mental clarity is martial arts. Martial arts trains you to be self-disciplined, respect yourself and others, and how to calm your inner self and shut out distractions in order for you to achieve total focus. There also is the part where you can use this as a means of self-defense, but the main objective is to first learn to metal clarity.

      Conclusion

      It may be tough to deal with a child who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but there is hope out there as you don’t have to run to the doctor and have your child put on drugs for a quick-fix. We’ve seen today that through diet, and proper entertainment, and high-quality focused exercise like martial arts that your child can retain and expand their concentration.

      Have you considered which method will you try for your child today?

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      Sit-ups on the wavemaster

      These kids are hard at work today!

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      J K Lee Hales Corners

      Congrats to our newest location in Hales Corners and their first Board Break-a-Thon demo!

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      2017 Board Break-a-Thon

      Some children & UWM students breaking boards.

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      2017 Board Break-a-Thon and the MACC Fund

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