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      CITY's Martial Arts Programs

      Please and Thank You: Martial Arts and Manners

      Martial arts are traditions and systems of combat practices, and people get involved in them for a variety of reasons: self-defense, military and law enforcement use, mental and spiritual development, or even purely for entertainment purposes. They provide more than just a method of defense, an outlet for physical fitness, or fun. It’s also about respect: respect for self and respect for others.

      The use of manners is pretty ingrained into most adults. But for kids, manners are still a learning process. They don’t always remember what to do, when to do it, or how to do it. Parents get busy and don’t always remember to enforce manners. Manners matter even, and maybe especially, in martial arts. They’re a form of self-defense. Manners are a method of self-defense by helping to ensure that you don’t unintentionally offend another. While it is very different today than it was centuries ago, there was a time when a samurai could pull out his sword and kill someone who had offended him without impunity, even if that offense was only in the samurai’s own mind. A codified system of manners arose from this to ensure that people didn’t offend someone and prevent danger.

      How do you ingrain manners in your kids and pre-teens? There are plenty of things you can do, and most of them are much easier than you think.

      Good manners is discipline

      Many times when we think of the word discipline, we think of punishment: a spanking or taking away a toy or privilege for poor behavior. But discipline means something else, too: the training to follow rules or a code of behavior. By teaching your child to be respectful, to not yell, speak loudly, or interrupt, and to appropriately greet, say goodbye and otherwise interact with others, you’re teaching them discipline. This discipline spreads to all areas of their life, and will make for a more disciplined, organized child in school, at home, and elsewhere.

      Make sure your own manners are front and center

      As parents, busy with work, housekeeping, laundry, and the day-to-day raising of our families, it’s easy for our own manners to start to slip a bit. We may say “Will you take care of that?” instead of “Take care of that!” But just because it’s phrased as a question doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s any more polite than the demand would be. Say please and thank you, and smile when you make requests. While you don’t need to put a lot of emphasis on the politeness of your words, do make sure your kids hear you. Examples of politeness are sometimes much more effective than telling them what to do.

      Remember that good manners are a habit

      Start early, and do your best to enforce everywhere. Don’t make good manners something that gets pulled out like a party trick at weddings or other occasions beyond being at home with family. Use good manners at home, even when it’s just the family. Even if it’s just two members of the family, using good manners should still be important.

      Work with your child’s instructor

      There are many rules regarding manners in a martial arts school. There are rules regarding bowing, addressing the instruction, speaking with other students, movement during class and ranking. These rules may seem strict and confusing, but it’s important to teach your child to respect and follow them. Ask for a list of these rules, and ask for explanations or clarifications politely, if you don’t understand the purpose behind a rule. Go over them with your children, and discuss with them why it’s important they follow those rules.

      Be verbally thankful for things

      Saying thank you when someone passes the salt is good manners, of course. But it’s also good manners to be thankful for other things that you may not always be able to thank someone for. Perhaps a good parking space opens up when you need it. You can say something like, “I’m so grateful that space just opened up. Now I don’t have to carry your baby sister as far in the rain.” Be grateful for other things, too. Your job, your spouse, your kids, the roof over your head, and all the other things that are a part of your life or make your life better are things you can be grateful for.

      Consider starting a tradition of going around the dinner table each night and naming something that each person is grateful for. This not only instills the idea of being grateful, but also helps encourage Kids to spend their day looking for reasons to be grateful.

      Step back and let the instructor take over

      As parents, we want to protect our children from anything we perceive as a threat or a wrongdoing toward our child. Seeing the instructor correct your child, particularly if you don’t believe your child has done anything to be corrected for, can be difficult. Particularly if your child is sensitive and takes constructive criticism badly, it’s tempting to step in. But it’s better to let the instructor correct your child. This teaches your child that they must respect the authority of other people besides just their parents. It will also teach them to take criticism, to remain humble and learn from others, and to respectfully stand up for themselves if they believe that someone is wrong about them.

      Good manners are important in all aspects of life, and parents can work together with their child’s instructor to ensure that their kids grow up with plenty of respect and empathy for others. The sooner you start, the better, but it’s never too late to begin.

      Getting Your Kid to Participate in Class

      Ideas To Encourage Schoolroom Participation

      We all remember the different types of kids in our childhood schoolrooms. Some kids were super loud and funny. Others were smart and brainy. Some were athletic and popular, and others were painfully shy. We all probably remember, for better or for worse, where we fell in that schoolroom continuum.

      Now you’re a parent, and perhaps you have one of those painfully shy children as your very own. What’s the best way to help your child bloom and participate in class? Here are some things to remember.

      Give It Time

      If you have young kids who are just beginning school, be sure you give them some time to get adjusted before worrying to much about class participation. Spending all day or even half a day in class can be a strange experience for the first several weeks. They may be overwhelmed with all the activity or be uncertain about how to interact with other kids.

      Let your kids get to know their teacher and classmates at their own pace. Give them time to figure out rules of behavior and schoolroom expectations. Chances are they will warm up to the whole experience as time moves on.

      Open Lines of Communication With the Teacher

      Remember that you and your kid’s teachers need to work together to make the entire experience a positive one. Introduce yourself early on during the year and share any concerns you might have about your kids. Encourage your children’s teachers to contact you by phone or e-mail if they need any support or come up with helpful ideas you can implement at home.

      Be sure to participate in parent/teacher conferences during the year. Talk with your kid’s teacher about the types of activities they are doing in class. Suggest ways that your kids might be able to participate more fully in a particular unit study by sharing something of their own. Compare notes regarding your kid’s behavior in class vs. at home and talk about why there might be differences.

      Volunteer or Visit

      There’s nothing like spending time in your kid’s schoolroom to get a more accurate picture of a typical day. Most classes welcome parent visits or volunteers. See if you can stop in once a week to read to the class or help a slower or more advanced group of students. Or, if your schedule doesn’t permit regular volunteering, take time to at least make a short visit so you can observe your kids with their teachers and classmates every once in awhile.

      While you’re visiting, watch your child and observe what’s going on. Is your child avoiding activities that may be new or difficult? Are others teasing your child? Are the activities too easy and therefore boring for your child?

      If you notice something like this, talk with the teacher about how to resolve the issue. Perhaps you can offer to teach your child how to play a classroom game at home to increase confidence. If something seems too difficult, perhaps a related easier task can be attempted. If the classroom seems boring, perhaps a more challenging activity can be introduced a few times a week.

      Build Confidence Outside School

      Use your time in the evenings and weekends wisely with your kids. If confidence is an issue, encourage learning new skills that can be applied later in the schoolroom. Sometimes kids prefer to struggle with tasks at their own pace at home before attempting them in a public place like in a class.

      Consider signing up for outside activities. Sports, martial arts and music lessons can all help kids feel like they are mastering something. They also provide a way to allow them to share their skills with friends and teachers at a later time.

      Although praising every single thing a child does is insincere and tends to backfire long term, offer real praise when it’s earned and deserved. If your kids really struggles with something until it is mastered, congratulate the accomplishment.

      Foster Real Communication at Home

      It’s easy to fall into simply living with your family members in the same house and not really working on relationships. You may be tired and stressed after a day at work. Your kids may be burned out after a day in class. Everyone may grab a bite to eat and crash in front of the computer or television for a few hours before bed.

      Remember that even though it may take a little more effort, fostering real conversations with your kids can have long-term positive effects in their lives, your life and your entire relationship. Practice asking what was the best and worst thing in your child’s day, and then encourage your kids to ask you about your day. Although this may seem awkward at first, it is good practice in how to hold a caring conversation. Be sure to truly listen to answers; not just nod mindlessly while simultaneously checking your e-mail.

      Encourage Positive Relationships

      The more positive, supportive relationships kids have, the better. Help encourage good friendships that involve doing positive things together. Perhaps your kids can study with others in their class so they can ask questions and discuss things they didn’t understand with peers.

      You might want to organize a small group of kids who can volunteer to help at a nursing home, package food at a local shelter, or clean up a local park. Doing something helpful and positive together can build confidence and create an environment where talking can happen more naturally while you work toward a common goal.

      Kids may enjoy learning new skills. Consider signing up for an art class, a community drama class or a martial arts class. Fostering relationships between your kids and other non-academic teachers can help them feel more confident. That confidence can they translate to participating more in class.

      10 Mental Health Benefits Provided by Martial Arts Programs

      Many people enroll their children into a martial arts program so they can have a physical activity and spend their time more productively. Did you know that there are also many emotional and mental health benefits for children who participate in martial arts? In this post, we’ll discuss the mental health benefits that practicing martial arts can provide.

      1 – Social Skills and Friendship

      The ability to make and have friends is a major factor in a child’s satisfaction and comfort level in school. It is also a key factor in their abilities to interact with the world as they get older. Martial arts provides children the ability to feel incorporated in a nonthreatening family environment. Dojos are extremely structured and facilitate a family-like atmosphere. Ultimately, that makes it a perfect environment for shy children to begin to open up and make friends. Martial arts training also teaches the concepts of compassion to opponents, patience and conflict resolution.

      2 – Discipline

      Having discipline will help a child in many ways. Discipline will allow a child to learn how to structure important aspects of their lives to accomplish tasks and goals. In martial arts, discipline is a foundational practice. Martial arts instructors are keen on not tolerating disruptions, excessive talking or goofing around. This type of discipline is especially important if the child is not receiving it in school. The discipline taught in martial arts also teaches how to control anger, how to diffuse situations without fighting and how to be self-accountable.

      3 – Respect

      Along with discipline, respect is another foundational practice taught in virtually every martial art. Children are taught to respect their instructors, their co-students, opponents and themselves. Respect is deeply engrained in martial arts and it is a lesson that it taught from day one until the end of practicing martial arts. The respect associated with martial arts comes from the close interaction students have with their teachers. Naturally, as the student learns more from the instructor they begin to increase in belt ranks, which also facilitates respect for their techniques, knowledge and abilities.

      4 – Confidence

      Learning new skills, self-defense techniques and how to acquire higher level belts provides a system of accomplishment that rewards the child with increased confidence. Because there is a competitiveness within martial arts, the ability to face an opponent and win also allows the child’s self-confidence to grow. Because it is a one-on-one sport, the child becomes more self-aware in a loss than in a team sport environment. These factors combine to boost the confidence of children, which is something that can help them become more daring in their future dreams and wants.

      5 – Awareness of Personal Safety

      Martial arts provide children with the ability to be self-accountable in an adult world. This dynamic not only makes a child more confident, but more aware of their personal environment as well. For children, many dojos will teach about stranger awareness and what to do when encountering a stranger. While parents also teach these rules to their children, their martial arts instructor also reinforce that from different angles as well. Ultimately, children taught about stranger awareness and personal safety in dojos can come away learning better decision making methods.

      6 – Physical Fitness

      Physical fitness is a growing concern these days when it comes to children. Because of technology, downgraded quality of food and busier parental schedules, children are becoming more sedentary. Martial arts provide an avenue for children to work on their balance, posture, coordination and an understanding about the importance of health and fitness from an early age. Studies have shown that physical activity is incredibly helpful to a healthy mind.

      7 – Focus

      A child with a strong attention span is one that will do better in school, have more discipline and have the ability to better handle situations without feeling overwhelmed. Martial Arts teaches children how to focus on a particular task, set of moves and reactions to an opponent’s moves. This also goes together with the discipline built through martial arts.

      8 – Responsibility

      In many dojos, children are required to maintain the cleanliness of their uniforms, the dojo and to be punctual. Along with the personal responsibility children have in memorizing moves, these elements impact their ability to achieve higher belts. Ultimately, that system of personal responsibility is important in the independence felt by a growing child.

      9 – Listening

      Listening to instructions from martial arts instructors is a vital aspect of the success a child will have in their martial arts program. Because children need to listen to their instructors, clear lines of authority and respect are drawn. By listening to their instructors, children are taught that following directions, accountability and focus are important to success.

      10 – Attention to Detail

      Martial arts are all about details. When children learn moves, they will learn how important every little movement needs to be and how it can impact outcomes. This emphasis on attention to detail helps a child increase their focus, concentration and memorization.

      Martial arts are great for boosting a child’s physical and mental health. Many of the positive aspects of healthy mental health are incorporated within the martial arts system of respect, rewards, accountability and confidence.

      How Martial Arts Can Help Your Child in School

      How Martial Arts Can Help Your Child in School

      The problems that children have in school can be academic, social, or some other challenge. Involvement in the martial arts can help with any of these kinds of problems. The following are the specific problems that your child may face in school and how the martial arts can help to resolve them.


      Lately, the problem of bullying has received a lot of attention in the news. Children are being bullied both in school and on social media. Some children have even taken their own lives as a result of severe bullying. The martial arts can help with this problem in two ways. First, your child will learn how to defend himself or herself. This means both that your child will be able to engage another child in a fight if they must, and that they will be able to avoid or deescalate a fight if they can. Second, your child will grow in self-confidence and self-esteem. This will help your child to feel impervious to the verbal abuse that other children may heap upon them. This self-confidence is built through achievement in the martial arts. Also, their martial arts teacher will teach them how to respect themselves and others.


      Many children have difficulty in sports activities because they lack certain motor skills and coordination. This makes them feel uncomfortable when they must perform in physical education classes or participate in sports during recess. The martial arts directly work on a child’s coordination skills to produce a person who is graceful in their movements. Physical coordination is not just an inborn skill. It can be taught.

      Learning the Value of Hard Work

      To succeed in the martial arts, it takes commitment and a lot of hard work. A person must give 100 percent of their energy to make progress. Your child’s martial arts instructor will emphasize that this is the case with any goal in life. As a result, your child’s commitment to goals in school will intensify.


      Not only does it take a lot of hard work to succeed in the martial arts but also an attitude of discipline. Discipline means that a person keeps to their training schedule no matter what kind of obstacles intervene. This obviously transfers to school, where the child must have a stick-to-it attitude to excel.

      Mental Toughness

      Many times, a child will feel timid because of their size or a lack of certain innate abilities. The martial arts teach that even a small person can be trained to overcome a big person in a confrontation. This is achieved by both practice, strategy, and a self-confident attitude. Whatever challenges your child may face in life, the martial arts can give them the tough attitude that they need to persevere.


      A lack of focus has infected the younger generation. We live in a culture where everything is designed to conform to a short attention span. To succeed in the martial arts it takes focus and concentration on what you are doing. This is a trait that can be improved on. The martial arts instructor will lead by example, and their traits will transfer over to your child. Even if your child has subjects in school that are hard for them to focus on, they will be trained to focus for success.


      Many times, it is difficult for a child to excel because they lack the right amount of confidence. It has nothing to do with their innate abilities. A child’s martial arts instructor can teach them to develop confidence by appreciating the achievements that they make. Mastery of a level of martial arts can be slow, but eventually with hard work almost everyone succeeds. The instructor will challenge your child to overcome any barriers that they have towards succeeding. This ability to inspire is a special trait that martial arts instructors have.

      Working Under Pressure

      School can be difficult for many children because they must work under pressure. Not only does your child have to perform well, but also they must do so under a time constraint. The martial arts develop the ability to think on your feet and react fast to situations. There is no time to deliberate and make a slow response. For this reason, a child will learn how to work well under pressure and time constraints. They also will be taught how to remain calm in various types of pressured situations.


      Children nowadays seem to have no respect for anyone, including themselves. One of the outstanding features of the martial arts is that it teaches people why they must respect others. It does this by giving them an appreciation of the worth of others. For instance, you should respect your teacher because of the level of knowledge and skill that they have. In this way, respect is not only based on authority but rather on the true value of other people.

      A Philosophy of Peace

      Finally, the martial arts can develop an attitude of peace and serenity in your child. The martial arts are not only a physical training and discipline. A beautiful philosophy of peace, harmony, and serenity goes along with the physical aspects of the training. This philosophy is something that can help your child attain happiness in school and life in general.


      The martial arts can help your child with every aspect of their life. This is particularly the case with issues that come up in school. Right now, it is early in the school year. The process of developing the benefits of the martial arts is a slow one as with anything that has true value in life. Therefore, it is good to get a head start on enrolling your child in a respected martial arts program.

      Discipline Mistakes Parents Make

      Discipline Mistakes Parents MakeAlthough almost every parent wants great kids, many parents aren’t sure how to get there. Here are three of the most common child discipline mistakes and how to avoid them.

      1. Treating children like pets, not people

      Starting in the womb, the entire journey of having children is often viewed as a fun new venture for parents, with a completely parent-centered approach to the process that forms a shaky foundation for future discipline.

      What makes this outlook so damaging is that it makes it unlikely that parents will do the uncomfortable things required in disciplining happy, well-rounded children. If the parent is unwilling to take the time to teach the child the unpleasant lesson that “Mommy’s voice can’t be ignored,” the child is left to the luck of the draw as he or she darts out into the parking lot as a toddler, or when he or she begins associating with questionable characters after school in junior high.

      2. Lack of foresight

      By ignoring negative behaviors when a child is small and could be easily taught lessons like “Don’t lie to Mommy” or “We don’t steal candy,” those bad habits can become ingrained.

      Instead of laughing off the cute antics of adorable little bold-faced liars, wise parents will envision the same children performing the same acts in 10 or 12 years. If a 3-year-old’s lie seems funny, the parent should hold back the smile and visualize the same child at 15, then an accomplished liar.

      Instead of indulging the cherub who refuses vegetables and demands only sweets, parents should picture the same child as an overweight, self-conscious 16-year-old. What can be done today to make his or her life easier then?

      3. Assuming discipline = punishment

      As health is more than medicine, discipline is more than punishment. Yes, punishment has its place, as does medicine. Still, optimal health means that medicine will rarely be necessary, just as wise discipline causes punishment to be a rare occurrence.

      Discipline means “the process of making a disciple.” That process involves a huge host of factors, only one of which is punishment. Other equally vital components of discipline include teaching honesty, respect, reverence, work ethic, health and scheduling.

      When parents ignore these other important facets of discipline, their over-emphasis on punishment can send children the unspeakably damaging message that they aren’t loved, which only exacerbates the problem.

      Punishment takes discipline, but discipline is more than punishment.

      Teaching Kids Responsibility

      Parents want to help their kids be successful, but often fear they’ll teach them the wrong things, or teach them in the wrong way. Luckily, responsibility is something that can be taught by example and explanation as much as by enforcement of rules.


      Learning Responsibility by Example

      Parents are the best models for their child’s behavior, especially in the earliest years of development. They should express earnest interest in chores and go about their business without whining or frowning. Seeing shows of good humor alongside chores will help children associate responsibility with positive rather than negative feelings.

      It is also beneficial to invite children to help with household chores and other responsibilities. This interaction helps them understand what to do, as well as reinforcing a positive aspect to the responsibility.


      Learning Responsibility by Explanation

      Kids want approval. They want to behave. They want to do well in the things their parents want them to do well in. If they act out or misbehave, there’s always a reason. Sometimes that reason is frustration born of the fact that they don’t know how to behave correctly.

      That’s why explanations are so important. Sometimes it’s not enough to just show kids how to behave responsibly. Many times they don’t understand why a task is important, or perhaps even how to do that task correctly. In either case, explanations are crucial.

      A child who not only understands how to do something, but why they should do it is a happy child. Children who misbehave, especially young ones, often don’t know why what they have done is wrong. If they learn how to correct their mistakes, they will most likely do so.


      Learning Responsibility by Enforcement

      Sometimes, of course, kids just won’t live up to the expectations placed upon them. At this point, parents must guide them to good behavior through enforcement of consequences for failures in responsibility.

      Of course, parents should also make sure to give positive reinforcement for success. However, they should be wary of providing rewards too early on in a child’s development. Responsibility must be seen as an end in itself, not as an avenue to ulterior benefits.


      In the End

      Responsibility is a matter of modeling good behavior for one’s children. It is also a matter of explaining that behavior, and enforcing the consequences of that behavior, for better or for worse.