As a martial arts school it might not come as a surprise that we prefer martial arts and other similar pursuits over team sports as a primary pursuit, but perhaps what is not as clear is the reasons.
Martial Arts is a year round activity, just as health and fitness should be. Fitness needs to be part of day-to-day life, not a seasonal thing but part of your routine.
The other aspect of this is that in order to reach a high level of skill in anything you need consistency. It can’t be something that you do for 3-4 months of the year, especially as kids. In that time their bodies change so much that by the time the next season starts they will have taken a step backwards from where they should be.
And finally with a big lay off it is very easy to decide not to go back. Seasonal sports participation drops off pretty severely as kids get older and tends to retain mostly only the top tier of players. This makes sense, after not playing a sport for 8 months going back to a team is going mohave some anxiety that comes with it. Not to mention it is no longer part of their routine.
Martial Arts is a team effort, you can’t train on your own. You can’t be selfish in training and expect to get far. You can only get better through the help of your “team”.
But the accomplishments are individual. When a student earns a belt it is because of their hard work, because of their knowledge and because of their skill. It is not because they have a couple star players that carried them. It’s not because the other team choked. It’s because they did it, on their own.
When the goal of any sport is not really the sport itself, but the fitness, confidence, and other character traits that come from participation this is a big deal. Every accomplishment they reach is because they did it by themselves.
Clear Goal Setting
There is a path from white to yellow belt and on. It is very clearly laid out so that they know exactly what they need to do to reach their goals. The only one in control of their actions to those goals is them. It doesn’t matter it the team skips practice, or if their goalie quits the team mid season.
Every student is in charge of reaching their own goals, yes, they need their “team” to do it. But the control over reaching those goals goes to them.
They earn their belts, they are not given to them. They don’t choose to sign up for “orange belt”, they earn that belt.
I know from talking to parents one of the hardest things about team sports can be the schedules. Missing a practice or a game means letting the team down. You can’t go a different day to “make up” a missed game.
And if it’s not you, it’s someone else on the team missing that causes problems.
In martial arts if you have to miss a class it’s ok, we train 6-days a week and it can be made up if you like. You don’t let the team down because they are then short their goalie because you where on holidays or had a cold.
Leadership & Starting Skill
One of the other interesting things about martial arts over team sports is you can start at any age and be fine. Differing skill levels is part of the culture in most classes. They more experienced students help out the newer ones, which in turn develops their leadership and understanding of the techniques and concepts to a higher level.
Starting a lot of team sports at a later age can be a tricky thing, if everyone else on the team has been playing for 5 years already joining the team as a beginner is a hard thing to do.
Part of what makes a martial arts class work is that the experienced members help the newer ones. Leadership is a built in feature of the higher level belts.
In the end every kid is different, and every parent needs to make the decisions that they feel best suit their kid.
Sports aren’t their to teach the child to just play the sport. They are their to teach them confidence, to teach them to keep going when they are tired, to teach them to push themselves, to teach them to work together, to teach them not to give up, etc.