Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that teaches discipline, respect, and a strengthening of mind and body, along with fighting skills for self-defense. Translation of the Korean “tae kwon do” means, “The Way of the Hand and Foot.” This martial art involves learning precision blocks, kicks, stances, punches and forms, and encourages basic physical fitness and strength development. Taekwondo can help a child’s physical and mental development by increasing his fitness level, discipline and self-confidence.
Physical and Mental Development
Tom Bloom, a martial arts champion and a seventh-degree taekwondo black belt, says that taekwondo can be a positive factor in a child’s physical and mental development, according to his website, Tombloommartialarts.com. He says studying martial arts “develops a child’s agility, strength, speed, power, endurance, flexibility and posture.” The mental benefits to children include “a development of concentration and a building of confidence that will serve them well in any sport and in whatever endeavor they pursue in life,” Bloom says.
Executive Functioning Development
Executive functioning skills are considered to be more important in a child’s development than their IQ, according to a study by the National Institute of Health. Creativity, flexibility, memory, concentration, self-control, and discipline are all considered parts of executive functioning. The National Institute of Health concluded that scientific evidence indicates that children undergoing taekwondo training had increased gains of executive functioning skills than children in a standard physical education program.
The federal government's Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 60 minutes of physical aerobic activity daily for children. Practicing martial arts is one of the aerobic activities that the President’s Council highly recommends for children to develop a desired level of physical fitness. The American Taekwondo Association recommends taekwondo as an excellent way for children to develop physical fitness, in addition to the many mental and emotional benefits as well.
ADHD and Autistic Kids
According to the Mayo Clinic, taekwondo is an excellent way of developing self-esteem and self-discipline in a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with ADHD have deficits in executive functioning skills, can be treated by practicing martial arts. Taekwondo is excellent for increasing attention, self-control and self-discipline in children with autism. The website Autism Speaks has joined with the American Taekwondo Association to promote children with autism participating in taekwondo to overcome developmental obstacles, achieve personal advancement and increase physical fitness and social opportunities.
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