When we see a poster advertising martial arts for children with the words confidence, respect, determination, courage, dedication, anti-bullying tactics – what do they all mean? Can they really be achieved through martial arts? Well my answer in nearly 25 years of teaching is yes they can. It has been proven in many scientific studies that not only does martial arts improve behaviour but it also gives children an outlet for their energy and agression. We can all see that training in martial arts has physical benefits such as strength, cardiovascular improvement and flexibility but it is also known to be beneficial to both mind and spirit. The confidence and respect that individuals gain is a bi-product of our teaching.

We live in an ever changing world where technology is at the forefront of life for our children and our culture makes it acceptable for violence to be glorified via movies and music. These changes are changing how our children see the world and develop within it, over the years I’ve seen these changes and I’ve had to adapt elements of the program at BMA to fit in with this e.g knife defences…with the increase in knife crime throughout the UK, we would be doing an injustice if we didn’t add this to the syllabus. Not only have I changed some of the physical components of the syllabus but I’ve also added more mindfulness. In each class senseis and students take part in seiza where we prepare our minds for the class ahead and focus. The students not only reap the benefits before class with this but it’s also great preparation for self defence – breathing and body control are needed throughout training. These skills not only benefit the child in the dojo but can help them manage situations away from the dojo. I want not only for them to learn to defend themselves but prepare them for the real world.