There are some kids who are simply into sports. Sometimes they love playing them, sometimes talking about them, other times watching them on TV. (Let’s admit it: most “sports kids” are interested in all three of those.)

Other kids just aren’t that much into sports. Maybe they’re a bit uncoordinated, or the interest in sports just doesn’t run in their family. Perhaps they’ve tried sports before and just didn’t fit in. If that’s the case, then kids martial arts classes just might be for them. They’re a great way for kids to get exercise while gaining a great deal of confidence in themselves.

Now that’s not to say that there’s no “sport” involved in kids martial arts. While most martial arts were started as a form of self-defense, there’s no doubt that many of them have taken on many elements of various sports. But it’s a different kind of sport, one that “non-sport kids” can really get behind. Let’s take a look at how martial arts classes for kids can fill the needs of most every child out there.

Competition’s Dark Side

Competition can be a good thing, and it’s the core of most sports. Competition can challenge one team to get better than another, and can help a team come together to overcome adversity.

Most children play some sport when they’re very young, whether it’s baseball, basketball, or soccer. But as kids get older, those who don’t have a driving interest or natural aptitude for it (or either) are sidelined. They get less play time, they’re more likely to be benched or put into a boring position. Right field in Little League baseball comes to mind. Of course, there’s also the little problem with letting the rest of the team down. If the child is always the one who doesn’t catch the ball, they’re suddenly the one who’s looked down upon.

Is there competition in kids martial arts? There can be, if a child is one who is tournament-bound. But that doesn’t have to be the case, and each child can decide on his or her own if they want to go to tournaments. How does kids martial arts deal with this? While there is sparring in martial arts, a lot of it is about the personalized goals that are set by each individual. Let’s talk about that a bit more…

Personalized Goals

Not everyone in every martial arts class is going to be at the same level. People are joining all the time, or they leave as they age out. That means that not everyone is moving at the same pace, and that’s fine. A good kids martial arts coach will recognize the level of each kid and discuss their advancement with the child and their parent. What does the leader of the martial arts class expect of the child? What does the parent expect? And most importantly, what does the kid themselves want to achieve?

Kids martial arts allows kids to advance and level up on their own, without having to be part of a team that intimidates some kids. They can focus on a particular BJJ move, or see how quickly they can level up and advance to face more advanced opponents. There’s recognition in a kids martial arts program, but it doesn’t necessarily have the same pressure that a team sports tournament can have.

A Lack Of Us vs. Them

When it comes to team sports, there’s a very thick atmosphere of Us vs. Them, one team versus another. And it gets even worse when kids are in a league and suddenly it’s Us vs. Them vs. Them vs. Them vs. Them. It’s all about being insular and thinking of everyone else as different. Adults do it too…a lot. “Our company is better than your company.” “Our church is better than your church.” “Our neighborhood is better than your neighborhood.”

Some kids are far more advanced when it comes to the way that people should treat each other. They’re interested in improving themselves, but don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that randomly-selected group of people should ban together just because they’re in proximity to each other. Why create adversity where there doesn’t need to be any?

Not being a “team player” can sound like an insult in today’s world, but it shouldn’t always be. Some are perfectly happy to take martial arts for kids and improve themselves without the scary levels of competition that can show up.

Team Players and Leaders

When the whistle blows, it’s all hands on deck in traditional team sports. Everyone suddenly has the same goal, and everyone is doing their part. And you know, a lot of times that’s a good thing. Being a team player can help get things done in childhood and as an adult

But just as the world needs team players, it also needs those outliers who are going to go about things their own way. Some kids just aren’t waiting for the whistle to blow, because they’d rather handle things their own way. If being a team player isn’t something that appeals to your child, perhaps they’ll be the one to lead the businesses of tomorrow in ways that no one would ever expect.

Non-Athletic Kids Don’t Have To Worry

As we were discussing up above, not everyone has a mind and/or body for sports. And because of that, some kids are always going to get picked last in gym class. That can be pretty devastating if it happens again and again. Maybe the kid is smaller, maybe they’re not as strong, maybe they’re not as coordinated. That can really turn someone off team sports for good.

Interestingly, being big and strong isn’t always important when it comes to kids martial arts classes. That’s especially true with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a martial art that was developed specifically to help weaker opponents triumph over larger, better-armored ones. This can really boost the confidence of a child who has never had an aptitude for traditional team sports. And coordination? That will be gained by taking the classes as the brain re-maps the body.

Oh, and let’s not forget about…

Gender Equality

Because martial arts aren’t about brute strength, it’s a great place for all kids to come together to learn and not let gender get in the way. Everyone can learn together in order to achieve their goals.

Team Sports Don’t Teach Self Defense

As much as we rail on team sports for their Us vs. Them mentality, it’s great that team sports exist. Kids get lots of exercise and have a lot of fun. But they’re certainly not learning any self-defense skills in the meantime.

Kids martial arts classes, on the other hand, give kids the exercise and fun and combine it with learning self-defense. They’re learning a sport — one that they’ll be able to engage in for decades to come — and getting important life skills at the same time that could get them out of trouble in the future.

The Mental Plan

As important as it is to have physical prowess on a team sport, it’s often the teams that know the playbook best that do the best. And the teams that come out on top the most are the ones who know the playbook but can make split-second changes as necessary.

You might be thinking that that’s missing from individualized sports such as martial arts, but you’d be very wrong. As we’ve mentioned many times before, martial arts (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in particular) is like a chess game in which the person who has a plan but can change it on the fly is the one most likely to come out on top.

Are Martial Arts Classes Right For Your Child?

You know your child best, and if team sports aren’t right for them, then maybe taking Dragon Spirit kids martial arts classes is. Click here to learn more about them and the different classes we offer based on age. We have a pretty good feeling that your kid might just find something in these classes where they can truly shine.