Teens have unique needs as they mature from childhood to young adulthood. Self-defense classes are proven to provide the safe and structured environment teens need to face the physical, emotional and mental challenges of adolescence.
Helps Develop Self-Confidence
Teens crave a sense of achievement and competence, which is driven by their need for attention and praise. By learning and being able to demonstrate techniques in front of their peers in class, teens develop confidence in their abilities to perform, which carries over into other areas of their lives. They also develop the confidence that comes from knowing they can protect themselves. Mentally Challenging Teens need to feel a sense of growth. Martial Arts training provides this through mentally challenging drills, techniques and training scenarios, which forces teens to focus, think and perform under pressure. Provides A Sense of Belonging As teens mature, they look for a sense of belonging; an identity. One of the reasons we see teens being drawn to cliques, gangs or clubs is that they get a sense of belonging, a feeling that they are with people who understand them and can relate to them. A good martial arts school provides a positive social network and support group of like-minded people focused on health and personal development. This provides the feeling of belonging teens crave, while keeping them surrounded by positive influences.
Teaches Responsibility, Accountability and Goal Setting
Responsibility – As teens learn self-defense, they are taught techniques and principles that can be used to protect themselves in a violent encounter. Teens are taught that along with the power of being able to protect themselves comes the responsibility of knowing when and where to use this knowledge. Teens are taught not only are they responsible for their actions, there is a responsibility that comes along with knowing martial arts that encourages them to help others who cannot protect themselves.
Accountability – Along with responsibility, teens learn that they are accountable to their fellow martial artists and instructor for their behavior both in and out of the dojo (training hall). There are strict standards of conduct and a level of expectation for teens and there are consequences for their actions, both positive and negative.
Goal Setting – Through the belt ranking system, teens are taught both short and long-term goal setting. They are taught how to decide what their goals are, set a deadline for achievement of that goal, make a plan to reach the goal by the deadline and how to check on progress to make any changes. They are also taught that once they achieve a goal to celebrate, enjoy the win and move on to the next goal, with the ultimate goal being achieving a Black Belt.
Instill Self Discipline
By nature, self-defense training instills self-discipline. Teens learn in a very structured environment that requires them to listen, focus and perform every single time they come to class. Through repetitious exposure to this environment, teens begin to become conditioned to structure, direction and being focused. When combined with the other aspects of training, teens start taking it upon themselves to do what is necessary to achieve what they want. This is the essence of self-discipline – doing what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it without anyone watching or telling you to do it. Or, another way it has been described is doing what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it, even if you don’t feel like it and no one is checking up on you.
Provides an Outlet for Excess Energy
As teens grow into their bodies, they go through phases where their physical coordination suffers. Teens need activities that continue to develop their gross motor skills and overall strength and conditioning, while also developing their smaller muscles, support structures and fine motor skills. Teens – when they aren’t sleeping – have energy to burn, so they need an outlet to release all this energy. Their bodies need to be challenged physically, allowing them to grow, get stronger and develop coordination.
A Structured, Safe Haven for Growth
Teens hate being embarrassed, feeling out of place or feeling stupid because they made a mistake. A good Martial arts program provides a safe, clean, supportive environment free of judgment so teens feel safe to make mistakes, learn and grow. Teens also need strict guidelines and boundaries to channel their newfound feelings of independence. The structured environment of a martial arts class provides the necessary boundaries while giving them freedom of expression.
There simply is no better activity for a growing teen than martial arts.