Martial Arts Aren’t for Kids

Getting “Wisdom of the Raven: The Mystic Way of Cabal Fang” ready for publication on Smashwords started me thinking about the reasons I started Cabal Fang.  One of the big reasons is that I no longer wanted to be teach people how to be obedient cogs in the Civilization Machine.  And then I realized that, although I’ve told all my friends, I’d never publicly explained my position on martial arts for kids.

First of all, let me say that I taught Korean Karate (TKD/TSD hybrid arts) to inner city kids for years through the YMCA and City of Richmond Recs & Parks. I meant well, and I believe 99% of martial arts instructors mean well too.  But I noticed first hand some things that others didn’t seem to see, and I stopped teaching kids.  Eventually I developed Cabal Fang — which I specifically designed for adults only.

Martial arts can be great for adults.  Here’s why I don’t recommend it for children.

Kids don’t learn that fighting is a dangerous last resort.

Martial arts indirectly teach kids that fighting is ‘cool.’  Sometimes they even do it directly and without shame.  I recently saw a martial arts school website where they advertised pizza and “martial arts movie nights” for kids — which is basically a babysitter armed with bad food and even worse messages.

Direct messages like the example above are easy to spot, but the indirect ones are less obvious.  The first problem is that no sane instructor is going to let kids fight with any level of contact approaching realism.  The kids spar at a very low contact level while layered in padded foam.  Fighting is rendered a safe and innocent-seeming ballet of violence.  Kids aren’t stupid.  No matter what the master says, they get the message of the action: that fighting is cool and fun.

Kids don’t learn self-discipline.

What they learn is that you have to take orders from adults and more advanced students if you’re going to get your next belt.  That’s a far cry from self-discipline.  If you want your kid to learn how to be a good little soldier and obey the pecking order, you’ve come to the right place.  But not if you want to encourage your kid to form peer relationships with others and peacefully stand up to anyone for what they believe — kids, parents, and stupid adults included.

Kids don’t grasp the spiritual side of the martial arts.

As a general rule, kids can’t comprehend the intricacies of meditation and contemplation.  They will sit and pretend to be meditating because they know it won’t last very long and pretty soon, if they’re quiet and obedient, they’ll be allowed to bang on each other some more.

If you want to teach your kid self-discipline, that fighting is bad, and how to get along with others, enroll them in a team sport like Football, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, etc. with a good coach.  Better yet, teach them yourself.  If you don’t know how, read a couple of good parenting books and the whole family will benefit.

If you’re dead set on self defense training for your child, enroll them in the school wrestling program or in a good Judo or Jiu Jitsu school (not MMA).  Just check out the coach/master first and make sure there’s no freakish weight-cutting going on and that there’s an emphasis on the team aspect.

Wrestling is full contact with no strikes.  At least your child will learn that fighting is dangerous and that it hurts.

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