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Twelve Reasons Your Child Should Study Martial Arts in the New School Year


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




Baytown Instructor Highlight: Robert Yamashita


Birth place: Riverside, California

Profession: Martial arts Instructor/X-ray technician

What classes do you teach: Kids karateKids/Teens BJJadult BJJMMA

What martial art(s) have trained in: 
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – 2005-present 
Okinawan Goju Ryu - 1996-present
American freestyle karate - 1993-1996
Kickboxing – 2000-present

Number of years of training martial arts: I started karate when I was nine at my step father’s dojo and I have been training ever since. He found out about BJJ in 2004 from some friends and when he started to roll I started to roll.

When did you start teaching at Elite MMA? Elite bought tks martial arts in Baytown in 2008. I had been teaching solely at the facility and am now a part of Elite MMA.

What is a memorable moment for you at Elite MMA? Everytime I get to help promote our bjj kids is pretty memorable. They are very enthused when they move up a rank and I know that I had a part in that.

In your own words why do you enjoy Elite MMA? Elite is where I want to be all the time. Whether it's cleaning the place up or running errands or teaching a class. I just love to be up there with all my friends. They are pretty much my second family.

Do you have any martial arts accomplishments that you are proud of and why? Every time I compete and win I feel like I am proud to train with everybody at Elite. They help get me to a level that I couldn't reach by myself. And I am very thankful of everyone there.

Any sports/activities that you participated in that you are proud of? I played football and basketball when I was in junior high but by high school I focused solely on karate.

What hobbies do you enjoy and why? I love spending time with my wife, Marisol and our family. I also like to hang out with the guys from the gym whenever I can. See a movie or heading out to the malls.

Any memorable family moments that you would like to share? I met my wife at Elite. We got married august 2010 in Las Vegas. I competed at the Las Vegas open and got married the next day. I thought it would be super stressful trying to fit everything in but it turned into the best time of my life so far. Lots of memories with family and close friends.

Academic accomplishments: Associates degree in health science-radiologic technology

If you could walk us through a day or week in your life what would it consist of? Just a day in my life would probably consist of waking up around 5-6am go to the hospital and work in surgical cases until about 3..get off and go home to change and pick up my gi say hi to my wife and be at the gym by about 430 and instruct until 9..go home, eat, shower and sleep.


Greenway Student Highlight— Brenda Melendez

What is your name and age?

My name is Brenda Melendez and I’m 27 years old. 

When did you join Elite MMA?

I joined Elite MMA in July 2014. 

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

I used to do Bikram yoga, but I got bored of the same routine. My co-worker, Leila Williams recommended Elite. 

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

Truthfully, I’m extremely uncoordinated and super clumsy. Since I was young, I have been interested in martial arts. Growing up in Peru, I was exposed to martial arts at a young age. My favorite movies growing up were the old Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies. I thought it was super cool, but I never envisioned myself doing such things, since I was so terrible at sports.  

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

Yes! I started doing cardio kickboxing and somehow I got convinced to try jiu-jitsu. 

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

I had no hesitation in joining Elite MMA. John was super nice to me on my first day. Everyone was very helpful and supportive. 

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

I have learned to not underestimate my athletic skills and to have more confidence in myself. Every time Mitch or Jose show me a new technique, I think there’s no way I can do that! But I always surprise myself. 

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

If you are remotely interested in martial arts you should go ahead and try it. You never know what you are capable of until you try it. I never thought I was capable of doing a simple roll and now I can’t wait to reach the next level. It certainly helps to have instructors that believe in you.



Kingwood Student Highlight— Kristen Weisinger


What is your name and age? 

 Kristen Weisinger, 34 

When did you join Elite MMA? 

12 months 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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