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Teach martial arts to your kids with videos! SERIOUSLY?

boy in karate uniform and smiling

While searching online for inspiration on a topic for this week’s blog I got sidetracked by a particular article with advice how to teach martial arts to your kids. It caught my attention because our own karate school has produced online videos as a part of our curriculum. The article turned out to be an advertisement for videos to assist parents in teaching martial arts to their kids. SERIOUSLY?

First things first

The first question to ask yourself before taking on this endeavor is why do you want your child to learn martial arts in the first place? For some people it is simply a means of physical activity at home. Keeping kids moving is important, especially if they have been sitting most of the day.

In most cases, though, it is because either your child has expressed an interest or because the parent has an interest! It could be due to bullying or poor self-esteem. You might think a little self-defense training could help. Or your reasoning might have to do with poor attention skills. After all, martial arts is great for building focus, right? Yes, it can be, and here’s a great article to explain why that is true. But the most important reason for success in any of these areas is having a great martial arts teacher. You are probably a great parent, but are you a great martial arts teacher?

Your kids deserve the best teacher

An experienced martial artist is the person who should be teaching martial arts to your child. From a technical point of view, there is no one better. Years of experience are behind each kick and punch, and there has likely been thousands of kicks and punches thrown. Professional martial artists sometimes get a bad rap. After all, it is extremely physical and can appear to be aggressive. ( Not!) Understanding the comprehension necessary to execute particular techniques, or the cognitive skills required for quick decision-making, will make a parent appreciate the need for a professional to teach your child.

Where you live will determine the availability of a martial arts professional. Read this to help you ask the right questions when considering martial arts classes for your child.

It’s the journey, not the destination

That is so cliche I never thought I would actually use it. Guess what? It’s a cliche for a reason; it’s so true! In my 20+ years in the martial arts I have had some of the best experiences of my life. I can remember my very first class – the trepidation and excitement of it all. Eventually making friends and lifelong relationships, we were all training with a common purpose. We received direction from a teacher, our Sensei, who knew each of our strengths and weaknesses. Karate classes became my “happy place”.

Learning self-defense, gaining self-confidence, improving focus and attention span and having a physical outlet are great reasons for your child to learn martial arts. However, likely the best reason a parent should let a professional martial artists teach their child is to give their child the opportunity for a most memorable journey!

Links to our student’s journeys

Below are a few links to our Student Spotlight feature of our blog. Kids, teens and adults share their thoughts on their training!

Student Spotlight 36 Student Spotlight 31 Student Spotlight 6/27/2018

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The reasons for the kiai in martial arts

karate kicks on a pad

In order to understand the reasons for the kiai in martial arts, we need to break down the word kiai. Ki = inner energy, Ai = join. When a student kiais’ it is the joining of all your energy. It is a very personal thing, believe it or not, but there are physiological aspects that should be the same for everyone.

Physiological aspects of the kiai

The properly executed kiai is not a scream. If you think about it, screaming is what you do when you are afraid! Certainly a martial artists looking to engage all of his or her inner energy would not want to scream.

Screams generally come from your throat. Kiai’s do not. If martial artists screamed out kiais, we would all lose our voices very quickly. And your voice is a weapon, so you wouldn’t want to wear out your weapon. A properly executed kiai is a much deeper sound than a scream because it is generated in your torso. Put your hands on your waist with your feet about shoulder width apart. Now lean from side to side. In order to maintain balance, you need to engage your core muscles. These same muscles help to “push-out” a proper kiai. ( Even more reasons to strengthen those ab’s!)

The 3 reasons why we teach our students to kiai

At The Bushido School of Karate there are 3 specific reasons for every kiai:

To scare the attacker, or bully

Imagine the shock you feel when someone surprisingly yells “BOO!” right in your face. It is disarming, and just might give you enough time to get out of a bad situation.

To call for help

A strong kiai will have a resounding affect and will alert others. A very important reason to continuously practice kiai’s is so that doing it becomes second nature. It is the same reason we practice the same kick over and over: to get better at it. When an individual is under a stressful situation, he or she may temporarily lose the ability to speak. This is a result of adrenal stress conditioning – (a topic for another day!) . But if the kiai is practiced as often as the kick, there is a better chance of a loud outcome.

To feel stronger ( the joining of your energy )

It is hard enough for adults to comprehend this concept, at least at the beginner level. So there had to be a more relatable way to get this very fundamental idea across to our younger students.

We give our students a narrative of the sounds made by a person attempting to lift a heavy box. Usually this is not done silently. For some mystical reason those grunts and groans give us more power. So kiais work in the same way; they give us more power.

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Learn what swim lessons and self-defense have in common

women in self defense class

Swim lessons and self-defense may seem worlds apart. What does the breast stroke have to do with kicking and punching? AHA! The answer is nothing (that I can think of). I’m not talking about the specifics of each, rather, more of the reasons for each. And those reasons are fundamentally the same; to avoid getting into a bad situation OR what to do when you’re in a bad situation.

Swim lessons are like self-defense for water

If you have taken lessons or were taught how to swim, you have the skills to enjoy the water. You are not afraid to hold your breath and go under the water because you were taught how to do it safely. There is more to learn if you visit the ocean. Tides can pull you away from shore – something you won’t encounter in a swimming pool. You need to know how to get out of that situation ( swim parallel to the shore! ) so that you will not panic. Panic never leads to a positive outcome. Taking swim lessons does not mean you will be the next Michael Phelps. It simply means you participated in educating yourself to protect yourself from harm while in the water. This type of knowledge means you can enjoy yourself and have a healthy respect for water, not a stifling fear.

Self-defense class is like learning to swim on land

We know that 70% of Earth is covered in water. If my math is correct that leaves 30% of dry land. Most teens are required to take a driver’s education class before tesing for their license – I know I did. What I took away from that class was how to look for warning signs, like black ice in cold weather and slick roadways when it first starts to rain. I also was taught about ABS brakes and hydroplaning. Once again the basic theme is how to avoid being in a bad situation AND what to do if you find yourself in a bad situation.

Most likely if you ask someone if they took swim lessons the answer is “Yes.” You will probably get the same answer if you ask if he or she has taken driver’s ed. Ask someone if they have ever taken a self-defense class and a large majority will answer with a negative. Of course there is usually at least one person who carries mace or pepper spray. That could be more dangerous than never having taken a real defense class!

Make self-defense as important as swim lessons

Enrolling in a self-defense class should be as important as swim lessons and driver’s education. A great class will teach the warning signs and how to avoid them. It will also include a physical component and will help you test your skills in a safe environment. You will learn about physiological changes when in an unsafe situation, and why some defensive techniques may be better than others.

There is really no one section of society that needs a self-defense class more than another. Everyone needs it. Make an effort to seek out a local self-defense class, workshop or seminar. It’s an important part of life’s curriculum!

SAVE THE DATE! FREE Women’s Self Defense Class

The next FREE Women’s Self Defense Class is March 21st, 2019 at The Bushido School of Karate in White Plains, N.Y. Sign-up for e-mails to be notified when registration begins. You’ll learn more than how to use your own weapons – don’t miss out!

Check out pictures of past Women’s Self-Defense Classes at Bushido Karate

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Student Spotlight No. 30

female karate student behind a question mark

The Bushido School of Karate is so appreciative of the students and families that are a part of our Bushido Karate family. We’ve had the pleasure of teaching for over 2 decades and in that time have been privileged to teach thousands of students. Everyone started at the beginning with no shortcuts, and we are so proud of their accomplishments.  Our weekly Student Spotlight features randomly chosen students on their own journey at The Bushido School of Karate.

This week’s spotlight is on Xiadong!

Xiadong is 25 years old, is in graduate school and is currently a blue belt at Bushido Karate. She started karate classes in July 2018.

I know how to control my body well, which kind of gives me more freedom. I also have gained self-discipline.

– Xiadong
Student spotlight on Xiadong
February 20, 2019
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Student Spotlight No. 29

teenager in karate uniform

The Bushido School of Karate is so appreciative of the students and families that are a part of our Bushido Karate family. We’ve had the pleasure of teaching for over 2 decades and in that time have been privileged to teach thousands of students. Everyone started at the beginning with no shortcuts, and we are so proud of their accomplishments.  Our weekly Student Spotlight features randomly chosen students on their own journey at The Bushido School of Karate.

This week’s spotlight is on Seckou!

Seckou is 15 years old, is in 10th grade and is currently a brown belt at Bushido Karate. He started karate classes in June 2014.

I feel like I am always learning and growing; I always look forward to classes.” -Seckou

I did significant research before I selected a karate school for my Godson, Seckou. I was very impressed with The Bushido School of Karate. In addition to learning valuable self-defense they emphasize training the whole person, mentally and emotionally. Thanks to Shihan, Senseis and Sempais, Seckou has obtained skills which will last him a lifetime and become a fine young man.”

-Seckou’s Godmother, Marie

teenager in karate gi
Student Spotlight on Seckou
February 5, 2019
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The facts about self-defense

woman practicing self defense

This is a topic I’ve wanted to address for some time. Specifically women’s self-defense, since this is where much of the marketing dollars are spent. Millions are spent on development and production, marketing and advertising, all aimed at one demographic: women!

Pepper spray, claws and sirens OH MY!

These all sound like a sure-fire way to defend yourself. Just have that tiny can of pepper spray in your hand AT ALL TIMES and spray exactly in the intended area. Or wear those claws on your knuckles AT ALL TIMES so that you can easily become a tigress defending her cubs. Sirens are great if you are expecting people to come help you, no matter where you are. Oh, and you need to carry it AT ALL TIMES

“The Art of Umbrella Self-Defense” also known as “Mary Poppins Save My A#@!”

I’ve taught dozens of Women’s Self-Defense Classes and every time I ask if anyone has taken a self-defense class previously. The very large majority are “No”‘s (!!) with a few “Yes”‘s now and then. And a lot of time those yes answers included being taught to use any object close to you as a weapon. Hearing that really makes me cringe. It’s a disservice. The sad fact is that many times your purchased self-defense weapons – like sprays and devices – or objects you randomly pick up are used against you.

The weapons you have everyday

In our karate* school we begin to add weapons training to our curriculum for Intermediate level students. Most have been training consistenly for 12 to 18 months before we allow them to even touch a weapon. The reason is very simple: they first have to get used to their own weapons – brain, hands, feet, legs, etc etc – before they can learn more. The use of weapons is to be used as an extension of our own weapons.

*Yes, I know, karate means “empty hand”. Our students learn and practice “empty hand” techniques, like, forever!

Women’s Self Defense Class

The next FREE Women’s Self Defense Class is March 21st, 2019 at The Bushido School of Karate in White Plains, N.Y. Sign-up for e-mails to be notified when registration begins. You’ll learn more than how to use your own weapons – don’t miss out!