Martial arts help teach many valuable lessons and skills to students. Self-discipline, humility, perseverance, and mental fortitude are just a few of the many great things they teach. The American Psychiatric Association says that 5 percent of American children have ADHD — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This means that, in a class of 20 students, you’ll have an average of 1 student with ADHD.
For these students, martial arts can help improve their diagnosis in many ways. Self-discipline, listening, focus, and socialization skills are taught and practiced; as you may know, these are the things that can help students overcome their ADHD symptoms. We will explore these below, as we show you how martial arts helps ADHD:
Rituals and Structure
Martial arts are filled with rituals and structure and Psychology Today says this is great for students with ADHD. ADHD students tend to lack in organizational and executive functioning skills. These can be developed by many of the factors of martial arts that emphasize structure, consistency, and ritual. For example, a class begins and ends with a bow to the instructor. There is a warm-up session and then the students practice a technique or skill, in the main portion of the class. The students are ranked by a belt system and obtain higher levels by testing, which can help in goal setting and accomplishment.
Self-Discipline and Self-Control
Self-control is usually under developed with children diagnosed with ADHD. Martial arts help children with ADHD by disciplining them in a respectful setting. Students must stay still, while awaiting their next task. Practiced in every class, this will translate into an improvement in self-control.
One of the most important lessons that could be taught to children with ADHD is that of respect. While they may not be purposely disrespectful, their potential inability to stay still and wait for the next task can be very disrespectful to teachers and peers. Martial arts place a large emphasis on respect and self-discipline, which can help greatly in their everyday lives.
Focus and Concentration
The skills and techniques taught by martial arts are not always easy. It can take a lot of dedication, commitment and practice to master many of the teachings of martial arts. Because of this, focus and concentration are an imperative part of martial arts. Children with ADHD tend to fixate on the present and lack a clear picture of the past and the future. Because of the intense mental and physical involvement needed to excel in martial arts, it can help these children immerse themselves in the activity: something that can further help them at school, at home and in their daily lives.
Martial arts schools tend to be incredibly interactive, with many instructors, seniors and peers. With ADHD, it can be difficult to always maintain positive interactions. However, most schools are incredibly supportive and can help ADHD students overcome a lack of socialization skills. By interacting with these groups on a regularly scheduled basis, the impact of being a part of these groups increases and boosts the benefits students with ADHD are able to take away from their martial arts classes.
How to Choose
There are many martial arts out there and they all have their particular sets of teachings and focus. Parenting.com has a great list of martial arts with a breakdown of some notable differences, as well as a great tip: “Look for a school that adheres to the original principles of the martial art it offers, rather than one that dilutes them.” Going in for some trial classes is oftentimes the best way to choose school best suited to the needs of your child.
Do you have any students with unique needs at your martial arts school? What sort of challenges do you face? Let us know on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Google+ to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay news.