How Martial Arts improves motor skills and coordination in kids
Martial arts is about training, and one of the key aspects of training the body and mind in this case is muscle memory, conditioning, and disciplined repetition. What this means is that an instructor designs lessons that require these things. A student might have to learn a particular move like a kick, a punch, or how to block these movements and actions to protect themselves. So a student has to repeat the action until they can perform it correctly and the instructor feels confident it has been committed to memory. This works because the body itself, even the very muscles themselves learn to perform an action correctly when repeated over time. And it becomes so imprinted on the mind and body that ultimately the body will react sometimes even faster than you can consciously grasp. A person throws a punch and a student automatically, with no prompting consciously, blocks it, seemingly without thinking.
That’s the goal in training, is to train the body to act without conscious thought. That’s because very often in life things happen quickly, even quicker than we can consciously realize, have time to formulate a reaction, and physically act on it.
Just like a parent might do when a child is in danger, for instance falling out of a chair. The parent automatically reaches out to catch the child seemingly before they even realize it’s happening.
So our bodies get more and more adept at doing this the more we CONDITION it to.
It’s an amazing feat, and even more amazing because everyone or anyone who becomes a student can learn to do it, and do it faster and better the more they train.
At first it seems like the masterful instructor is the only one that can do such things. But that’s what they’re there for, is to teach their students how to do it.
Now what’s more amazing still, is that the mind is able to transfer these skills to other areas of life or rather, find ways to apply them to other areas of life. It isn’t relegated to just the martial arts class. A student that trains their muscle memory, their knowledge retention, and their discipline repetition finds that it is actually improving their skills over all.
Take basic motor skills, just the ability to move your arms and legs, your muscles in different ways so that you can do all the things you normally do. You’re doing those things without even thinking. How often do you give any thought to sitting down and eating dinner?
You don’t, you just do it. You take your seat, you reach for this or that, you function.
Now, the ability to do this can often be terribly challenged for people who have certain medical or physical conditions. Sometimes people get injured and they lose the ability to use certain limbs or muscles. So they have to RELEARN how to do those things. They have to relearn how to utilize basic motor skills and coordination. The same goes for people with these conditions, they sometimes have to learn them in the first place because their body was never trained to do it because of their condition.
But with the martial arts a person, especially kids, can learn how to improve motor skills and coordination. When kids are training, especially with each other, they have to learn to act and react quickly to match or compete with their opponent, and so they can utilize a defense and protect themselves before their opponent hits them.
And in order to function this way their bodies need to learn how to act in harmony, the arms have to work with the legs, the legs with the hips and feet and so on. All parts of the body have to learn to coordinate in order to successfully train and master the skills the instructor is teaching them.
So the martial arts is improving both motor skills and coordination automatically through the course of the training.
Indeed the martial arts is in fact one of the best places to practice and train in therapy involving motor skills and coordination. Another means by which this is so effective is the fun involved, especially with kids. They’re naturally having fun sporting around and learning with their classmates and friends, they’re challenging themselves but they don’t always consciously realize it. And in the course of that they’re exercising those motor skills and coordination. They’re enhancing it, improving it, and teaching the body how to perform these things. Then when they leave class, their bodies are applying those lessons to everyday activities.
This in turn causes the kids to feel more confident and capable about trying new things, about tackling new challenges, and overcoming obstacles that might have hindered them for a long time.
They truly begin to learn what they can be capable of through training in the martial arts. And it’s a wonderful thing to behold, because it’s a place of very real, very tangible positive change.
And that’s the beauty of the martial arts, is that it can actually help so many different people with so many different challenges and obstacles in their lives.
So ultimately, the martial arts can absolutely help kids improve motor skills and coordination. And these improvements can and will be applied to their everyday lives and the way they function. They can strengthen and condition their bodies, and they can strengthen their bodies ability to improve muscle memory, knowledge retention, and conditioning.
And to see kids succeed is a priceless gift all its own.
So if you or a kid you know is wrestling with problems involving motor skills and coordination, give the martial arts some very real thought. Visit a school near you, talk to an instructor and see what they have to say about helping your kids improve motor skills and coordination.
Article reposted with permission from Go2Karate.com.