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Twelve Reasons Your Child Should Study Martial Arts

Many myths abound when it comes to martial arts training for kids. First among them might be that martial arts is simply “fight training,” and many parents are reluctant to encourage fighting. Others might believe that disciplines like karate, judo, jiujitsu, or tae kwon do (the world’s most popular) are too strict for kids to enjoy. Surprise – all false!

While it may not be for everyone, the fact is that martial arts training offers a host of benefits beyond just the physical activity (which is no small payoff itself!). Do you recognize something in the list below that could help your child in his or her personal development? How about your own?

1. Self-control. Students in a martial arts class practice waiting their turn, staying still, moving when instructed, listening and following directions.

2. Discipline, perseverance, goal attainment and patience. In a good school, students attend many classes and learn a series of moves in order to advance to the next level in tapes or belts. Typically, the advancements are small steps at a time. There is no “trophy just for showing up,” as they say – the reward comes only after legitimate work. Students are encouraged to set a goal (such as achieving the next belt rank) and to understand the steps necessary to reach the goal. Then, it’s a matter of staying patient and sticking with it long enough to succeed. Kids tend to prefer immediate payoff, but as Master Curtis Mast offers, “The next belt comes when you are ready.”

3. Mentoring and socialization. In many martial arts traditions, more experienced students (even if younger) are expected and encouraged to help the less knowledgeable kids. This is a boost both ways: the mentor practices teaching and nurturing; the mentee learns humility and recognizes a new goal potential.

4. Responsibility for things and actions. Good martial arts teachers believe that it is the student’s responsibility (even the youngest students) to care for the uniform, tie the belt, and take care of other equipment. Pupils are expected to take personal responsibility for their actions as well – both in and out of the dojo. “With great power comes great responsibility” is an attitude common to high-quality martial arts studios.

5. Balance, coordination, proprioception, and posture. Children’s neural pathways are very flexible, and the practices of balancing, transferring weight, engaging core muscles, and fine-tuning the positioning of limbs in space are crucial skills for a lifetime of good physical condition. Contrary to the popular belief that people are born either with natural coordination or not, these are all skills that improve quickly with practice (true for adults, too!).

6. Breathing. Coordinating gross motor movements with the breath is an essential skill – and one that can increase the efficacy of nearly any exercise. Martial arts teach deep breathing in various techniques, plus the coordination of breath and movement. In addition, breath control can be useful during times of stress or anxiety, such as test-taking, public speaking, conflict resolution or other emotionally-charged times (parents of ‘tweens and teens, take note!). 

7. Focus, attention, and mind control. Going along with the breath work, martial arts study requires serious concentration and focus. Narrowing the focus to precise movement is great practice for any task requiring sustained attention, and studies have shown that martial arts can be especially helpful to children with attention disorders (ADD/ADHD).

8. Self-esteem, confidence and self-respect. Working toward a goal and achieving it, teaching others, learning difficult skills and being recognized for hard work all build a child’s sense of competence in the world. The ability of a strong martial arts instructor to instill this sense shouldn’t be underestimated, and neither should the importance of these qualities in a growing one’s life.

9. Physical safety and empowerment against bullies. For any child unsure of his or her physical prowess, martial arts can be a game-changer. Learning to harness muscular strength and control gives anyone an advantage in uncomfortable situations, whether real or perceived. Certain martial disciplines also teach peaceful conflict resolution (sounds contradictory, but it’s a deep part of the tradition!), which can bolster a kid’s confidence around bullies. It can also give a child the power he or she needs to avoid becoming the bully, since there’s little left to prove.

10. Mind-body link, mindful action, eating and more. Just like dance, yoga, and other physical disciplines, martial arts enhances the mind-body connection. It benefits both body and mind to stay connected, in ways that science doesn’t fully understand even today. The practice of calming and focusing the mind can pay off in the kitchen, helping kids stop the blind foraging or sugar bingeing to think carefully about why and what they’re eating. It can help him or her get to the root of moods and emotions, by zeroing in on the mind’s path. Mindful action also helps us enjoy life’s little pleasures a bit more, and even find new ones.

11. Memory and retention. Students of martial arts memorize complex sequences of movement and must prepare to perform them for promotion tests. They also memorize accompanying words in both English and the language of the art form (Korean, Japanese, Chinese, etc.). Together, this learning activates and coordinates various parts of the brain, which make it stronger and faster for all kinds of learning.

12. Teamwork and sportsmanship. While it may look like students on the mat are practicing and performing alone, a closer look shows you that a quality master teaches students to encourage one another and direct positive energy to students being tested. In-class sparring requires the cooperation of two students to perform pretty complicated drills – and without such cooperation, people could get hurt or miss out on rank advancement. In competition, group scores hinge on the performance of a team, not just individuals.

When considering lessons, check that your dojo is led by a certified instructor. Avoid places that boast many young black-belts, since they may forgo quality instruction for belt advancement. Likewise, the number and size of tournaments the school attends are less important than the teacher-student ratio, teaching style, and your comfort level with the studio. Finally, look for a dojo that offers at least one observation or trial class will even offer several trial classes to ensure a good fit – and a payment option/contract period that works for you.

By Jessica Covington—http://www.examiner.com/article/twelve-surprising-reasons-your-child-should-study-martial-arts?cid=rss

Westheimer Student Highlight— April Ewing

What is your name and age?

April Ewing and I am 43 years old (yes, really!) 

When did you join Elite MMA?

I joined in December of 2014 

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

A couple of months prior to joining Elite, I was grabbed from behind and flashed while walking my dog in my town-home community. There was nothing that the police could or would do, so I began looking into self-defense classes, and I loved the atmosphere and feeling of support that was obvious even in my first visit. 

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

I took Tae Kwon Do for a short time during college and had difficulty with my knees at that time. 

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

I took Tae Kwon Do as part of my PE requirements while in college.

If you had any concerns about joining elite MMA, What helped you with your decision?

My biggest concern was actually just a financial one, but I was offered a great opportunity to get things started , and since then everything just seems to fall into place. 

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish.

There have been so many things that I never thought I would be able to accomplish when I attended those first few classes. Many might seem simple and maybe a little silly, but I have had so many health issues to overcome. I have been able to do forward and backward rolls the length of the mats without getting dizzy. I still remember the moment that I was able to do my first technical stand up correctly, and even just being told I was ready to be in Tier 2 was something that surprised me, especially in the timing of it. I love helping new people coming in, and showing them that they, too, can get there. The biggest achievement, though, has been getting through treatment of breast cancer. I was in the best physical and mental shape in my life before my diagnosis, and with all of that and the support of my Elite family, I have been able to keep a positive outlook to keep me going through those difficulties. Sometimes the thing that would get me out of my funk was walking in the doors, seeing everyone training, and remembering that my goal was to get back to training, and I'm back. Slow and sure. 

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

There are such huge benefits to studying martial arts that cross into the rest of your life. Confidence, discipline to face unanticipated changes, a more balanced mindset, and a better awareness of your own body and all of the amazing things that can be overcome. The wonderful thing about having a chance to start at Elite is how well the instructors (and our training partners, of course!) work with your starting place and push you further than you ever thought possible.

 

 

Greenway Instructor Highlight: Mitchell Norton

 

 

Birth place: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Profession: Martial arts instructor and General Manager

What classes do you teach: BJJKids BJJCardio Kickboxing

What martial art(s) have trained in: 
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - 2008-present  Muay Thai/Kickboxing - 2008-present
Tae Kwon Do - 1995-1997                  CrossFit Level 1 Trainer

Number of years of training martial arts: I started training Tae Kwon Do at age 8 and did that for 2 years. I re-discovered martial arts in college learning BJJ and kickboxing in college. In 2009 I moved to Houston and joined Elite MMA and have continued my journey in BJJ and Muay Thai there.

When did you start teaching at Elite MMA? I started teaching the Kid's BJJ in June 2011, I was an Instructor and Program Director at Elite MMA Kingwood from February-October 2013, and now I am the Instructor and General Manager of Elite MMA Greenway since October 2013.

What is a memorable moment for you at Elite MMA? It is really hard to pick just one day but I would say it was being promoted to brown belt in July 2015 with 2 of my close training partners. My wife was also awarded her purple belt that day so it was a special day for my family.  It was really an honor to be awarded that rank by instructors I respect so much.

Do you have any martial arts accomplishments that you are proud of and why? I lost 60lbs my first year at Elite MMA from BJJ and Kickboxing classes.  I have also competed in local, state, and international tournaments and found success but I am truly proud in the teaching of martial arts to both kids and adults. The contribution I am allowed to give back to the family that has given so much to me is invaluable.

Are there any professional accomplishments that you are proud of and why? I am proud of helping open the Kingwood location when it first began as well as growing the Greenway location from 50 to 200 students as the General Manager of such an amazing location.

Any sports/activities that you participated in that you are proud of? I played baseball and basketball when I was younger and competed in skateboarding competitions in junior high.  I focus most of my efforts on martial arts and I enjoy weightlifting and Crossfit as a supplement to my training.

What hobbies do you enjoy and why? I like to lift weights and do different methods of conditioning like pushing sleds and running hills to push my body in as many ways as I can think of. When I want to relax it involves mostly movies and TV shows with a few video games with my wife.

Any memorable family moments that you would like to share? With most of my family in Oklahoma it seems like every visit home is full of memorable moments. I enjoy my trips home for Christmas the most as the family spends time together in a very relaxing, satisfying way.  I also proposed to my wife at the end of a lunch class at our Westheimer location in April 2014, that was amazing for me.

Academic accomplishments: Graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma State University with an Honors degree majoring in Management Information Systems, minoring in Marketing, with an Option in Information Assurance.

If you could walk us through a day or week in your life what would it consist of? Waking up to get breakfast ready and head to my first meeting or class of the day to teach.  I get to spend my day doing what I love which is teaching, talking to current and potential students, creating new projects with my team to make Elite MMA better, and of course...TRAINING!!!  I finish my day with time with my wife before getting ready to do it all over again! 

Elite MMA—It’s Good For The Heart

A diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, usually hypertension (high blood pressure) or dyslipidemia (elevated cholesterol), often marks the beginning of multiple medication therapy. A multiple medication regimen not only can be difficult and expensive to maintain, but quite often brings on drug-induced nutrient depletions, due to the actions of the medications used. With the potential problems of unaddressed cardiovascular disease and the adverse effects of the medications used to treat this disease, many individuals attempt to address their cardiovascular issues with nutritional options.

However, before looking at nutritional supplements, we need to look at lifestyle changes. Poor diets with too much hydrogenated fat from processed fats, or too little essential fatty acids, can bring about cardiovascular disease. Daily exercise is essential to help protect the heart and prevent cardiovascular disease. Minimizing stress and good weight management are also critical to good heart health. Once cardiovascular disease has been diagnosed, lifestyle and diet changes are absolutely critical to minimize medication use.

When it comes to lowering lipid fractions, there are many nutritional products that have proven helpful. Berberine is an herbal product that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels comparable to statin drugs, and also to lower blood sugar and insulin levels comparable to the prescription drug metformin. Red Yeast Rice has a long history of being helpful for lowering high cholesterol. Magnesium has been shown to decrease lipid factors. When magnesium is taken with coenzyme Q10, a heart protectant, it has also been shown to improve heart stamina. Finally, healthy omega-3 oils such as Omega-3 Fish Oil, Enteric Coated, High Potency help to offset harmful fats and oils, and decrease overall body inflammation.

Looking at the heart vessels and vasculature in the body, a number of products have been found to help keep blood vessels open, and minimize hypertension caused by small, occluded vessels. Hawthorn berry extract has been recognized for centuries as a potent cardiovascular tonic, improving the function of the heart and circulatory system. There are several products that can enhance nitric oxide levels, which leads to blood flow and oxygen delivery are enhanced, blood vessels are relaxed, and high blood pressure is lowered.

When addressing cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, it may require multiple nutritional supplements to thoroughly manage these problems. The Zoetic Compounding Pharmacy nutritional team is here to help you keep a happy, healthy heart.

Ashley Nguyen, PharmD  

Zoetic Compounding Pharmacy

832-487-9287

Ashley has been a student at Elite MMA since 2005.  She is currently a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  She founded Girls in Gi’s in 2009, which was a project she took on to empower and enroll women mentally and physically and by using BJJ as the platform for that. She is also a wife, mother, and a pharmacist that loves helping people to feel better, perform better, or just feel as normal as possible.

 

Kingwood Student Highlight— Kristen Weisinger  

What is your name and age? 

 Kristen Weisinger, 35

When did you join Elite MMA? 

2 years ago 

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts? 

For fitness and to also be involved with my kids and their MMA experience.

 

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts? 

Life gets in the way of our personal goals now and then, you just have to step back and make time for yourself.

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take? 

No, the kids and I took taekwondo about ten years ago, I was a blue belt.  I now currently take Kickboxing at Elite MMA. I have dipped my toes into a little Jiu-Jitsu and will participate as my schedule allows. 

If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision? 

My son Tyler Weisinger helped me with my decision, he pushed me to better myself, and I love him for that!  Everyone at Elite has always been more than helpful at addressing any questions or concerns that I may have had, I truly feel like they are my extended family and miss them when I am not able to attend regularly.

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish? 

I have lost weight, toned up, my energy level has definitely increased!  Also, I was able to quit taking an SSRI prescription because like they all say exercise releases the happy endorphins!  I can definitely tell if I have missed class for an extended period of time because I get moody! 

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

Just give it a try, exercise isn’t easy; however, when you have the coaches at Elite MMA as your cheerleaders it is hard not to succeed and leave each work out feeling accomplished and happy happy happy!  I have NEVER left a class and regretted doing it!

 

 

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