Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that can disrupt the everyday life of those with the condition. People with ADHD have trouble focusing on one task for a long period of time, switching from one activity to another, or resisting temptations. This often leads to difficulties in school, at work, and even with friends. Nevertheless, many people with ADHD are able to live successful lives by addressing their challenges head-on through various methods and practices. In fact, many individuals with ADHD find martial arts beneficial in managing the symptoms of this condition. Here are three ways martial arts aids children with ADHD.
Teaches Focus and Concentration
Growing up with ADHD can be a challenge. It’s hard to concentrate, one might have a shortened attention span, and tasks that require staying focused for longer durations are challenging. Life skills fostered from martial arts class can translate to self-discipline at home and school. When a student practices martial arts, they learn to concentrate on one task at a time. For example, forms (also known as katas in different styles) are sequences of movements that require focus and dedication to remember and master. Martial arts instructors teach their students how to kick, punch, and stand in a certain way, and they encourage their students to pay attention and follow their directions. Other class activities like sparring require paying careful attention to your opponent. Successful board breaks and weapon drills require increased self-awareness and self-control.
We have had countless young students come to martial arts class for the first time and be unable to focus and stand on their dot for more than a few seconds. With time, these students were able to learn how to stand at attention and concentrate on their instructors and peers during instruction. Many have even grown into outstanding black belt leaders! Parents of students with attention difficulties have often reported that their students’ performance at school has improved since participating in martial arts.
Increases Physical Fitness and Coordination
Increasing physical fitness can help to reduce the symptoms of ADHD, such as hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Martial arts is a physical activity that uses the entire body, and it provides a positive outlet for a student’s bottled up energy. Martial arts training is a great way to boost an individual’s coordination, balance, and flexibility. Moreover, martial arts is often performed in a group setting, so a student is likely to feel part of a team and have a sense of belonging and acceptance.
Builds Goal Setting Skills
Children need to learn how to set goals that are clear and attainable. The martial arts belt system is a good way for students to track their milestones and help them stay motivated in the goals they have set.
Our students must earn what is called a “Parent Stripe” in order to test for their next belt rank. Students must accomplish a goal they set with their parents in order to earn the stripe. The only rules are that they (1) have to do the activity for at least a week and (2) they can’t be reminded by their parents. For example, a father told me that his young son was working on buckling up in the car without being asked. An older student was working on maintaining a homework calendar and showing her mom every night. These are all measurable goals that our students are working toward accomplishing.
There are many ways martial arts can help with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. First, it can help an individual learn to focus and concentrate on one task at a time. This is helpful for people with ADHD because they tend to be easily distracted by outside stimuli. Martial arts can also help boost self-esteem, physical fitness, and coordination. It can help manage stress and anxiety, and improve self-confidence. With these benefits, it’s no wonder that people with ADHD are drawn to martial arts. So, if you or your child have ADHD, consider taking up martial arts!