Kids love taking martial arts classes because they learn how to do fun things like punching, kicking, and even breaking boards with their hands. What we love (and what parents love, too) is that martial arts practice is also a terrific way to teach kids leadership skills without making it feel like a lesson.
What’s the Connection Between Martial Arts and Leadership?
Whenever you see a martial artist on the mat, whether they’re training, sparring, or in a competition, you may see it as a solo endeavor. You’re not wrong, but at the same time, martial arts students are leaders too.
In the martial arts, leadership skills are essential. Every instructor demonstrates leadership when they step in front of a class. They show students how a leader behaves by being respectful but commanding, kind but firm. Every instructor treats each student with dignity and expects students to afford one another the same courtesy.
The five pillars of martial arts training are as follows.
- Indomitable spirit
Each of these pillars represents a characteristic that is essential in an effective leader. An effective leader treats others with courtesy, behaves with integrity, perseveres when things are difficult, and stays in control.
Indomitable spirit is, in some ways, the combination of all other pillars combined. It represents the ability to be true to oneself in the face of opposition and the can-do attitude that leaders need to be effective.
How Are Leadership Skills Developed in Martial Arts Training?
Now, let’s talk about how we have seen leadership skills developed in martial arts students.
In every class, students learn valuable life skills without realizing it. Martial arts goals are designed to teach students the benefits of perseverance and integrity. The only way to earn a new belt or stripe is to master a skill with proper form. There are no shortcuts, and the process cultivates integrity by showing kids that doing things the proper way is the only way.
As kids interact with fellow students, they learn another essential leadership skill: courtesy. There is no room for unkindness in a martial arts class. The courtesy and self-discipline students learn allows them to treat one another with respect and be patient with others: both qualities that great leaders need.
Martial arts instructors respect students at all times, imparting practical knowledge that students will take with them when they leave class. By being honest with students about their progress and providing constructive feedback, they demonstrate how to treat others–and their honesty creates trust.
Can Shy Students Become Leaders?
Parents frequently ask us about how martial arts training can benefit their children. Some children may have difficulty asserting themselves, struggling with socialization or class presentations.
What we have found is that even the timidest student can flourish and create relationships in a group environment. We have seen students who came to us without much confidence develop a positive attitude and become successful leaders.
Every student in a martial arts class is encouraged to perform to the best of their individual ability. That may mean that they eventually pursue a black belt or it may mean that they simply learn techniques and skills that will benefit them wherever they go.
Martial arts students hold themselves with confidence, demonstrate control, and take the leadership skills developed on the mat with them when they go home or to school. A martial arts student is more likely to be a disciplined student of any subject.
The bottom line is that martial arts classes provide leadership training that’s fun for kids and will serve them well for the rest of their lives.