When I was an older child and teenager, I studied a martial art with my mom and brother. Being the
|Taken at a 2013 Aikido demonstration in New Zealand.
by Kesara Rathnayake, [CC BY-SA 3.0], via flickr
stubborn kid I was, I wasn’t quite as cooperative as I perhaps should have been, but I still enjoyed it. As an adult, I’ve been trying to find a good, local and affordable dojo (teaching hall) to join. No luck, so far, but that’s the way it goes.
Besides the self defense I learned and the general fun of the discipline, part of what I really liked about it was the whole philosophy behind it. I studied Aikido primarily, and it helped shape my world view. The primary lessons we learned were to find peaceful solutions whenever possible, use your surroundings and physics to your advantage and if a fight does break out, to either end it or disengage from it as soon as possible.
The way our sensei (teacher) ran the class was to challenge each student without turning it into a competition. It wasn’t about gaining rank or power over another. It was about bettering ourselves and growing as people.
Although I’ve only used the techniques we learned in class a few times since then, those philosophies have stuck with me. They’ve also applied to all areas of my life.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that in relation to struggling students, lately. Can martial arts help the right kids out in school? Did they help me?
I don’t know. They might have. My grades did go up, but it’s hard to tell whether the martial arts played a role in that, or if it was the accommodations I received and the simple passage of time. I do know those were some very rough years, and it was good to channel my energy in something unconnected to school.
When I took to the web to see if I could find any more info on the question, I could only find articles posted on various martial arts schools’ web pages. While I may be inclined to believe the martial arts can be helpful, I also realize that these schools are also businesses, and the articles they post will have only a positive spin on any question.
This is a question that would take more time to research than I really have to invest. Based off my experiences, though, studying them can help a great deal, provided you find the right dojo to join. If anything, they can serve as a great way to build the self esteem of a child who’s not finding the right resources in school.