Martial arts is a growing trend for children, says NBC. Although, traditionally, many children have begun learning a martial art at around the age of five or six, martial arts students are getting even younger.Popular children’s entertainment, such as the movie Kung fu Panda, are helping to spark an interest. But many parents “want to see their kids are growing up with good manners and be able to respect authority,” says Carmen Diez, owner of Kurokawa Martial Arts.
“Martial arts benefit youth by giving them physical fitness, body and mind coordination and a sense of self worth,” Adisa Banjoko, founder of the Hip Hop Chess Federation and practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jiutsu told the Oakland Local recently.
Banjoko says, “This is something beyond the stereotypical idea of a kid being a ‘fighter.’ On the contrary, for any person to walk into a martial arts studio, the first thing they have to acknowledge is that they cannot defend themselves at the level they hoped to. So, the first step of refining their ego has already been accomplished.”
This month, Banjoko has been teaching self defense as part of the Bullying Prevention Month. But, he begins his Hip-Hop Chess Federation’s anti-bullying program not with martial arts itself, but with teaching the children chess. The idea is not entirely novel. British undisputed World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Lennox Lewis also started a foundation for children, in which chess plays a key role. According to its website, Lewis’s foundation, “aims to identify and nurture the child’s innate physical and mental abilities and develop their self-esteem and confidence through the World of Boxing and the Game of Chess coupled with highlighting education as the main ingredient to achieving success.”
Although Western nation states tend to see mind (intellect) and body as distinct and separate, and physical education merely as a way of “keeping fit” and of teaching teamwork, classical civilizations have regarded mind and body as integrated. In Japan and China, for example, the lessons learned in martial arts were regarded as eternal truths, that were true also for the practice of other arts, and, more importantly, for living a virtuous life.