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How Martial Arts Motivates Kids to Practice Hard Things

We all know the importance of practicing a skill and how it leads to mastery. So how can we pass on this understanding to our children? A good place to start is to teach kids the importance of practice, to help them understand the ‘why’. In martial arts classes, kids practice to reach all kinds of goals— for stripe and belt testing, learning a new technique or drill and competition preparation. But kids aren’t always motivated to practice, and they don’t always practice in the right way.

Martial arts classes are structured around a highly effective technique called deliberate practice where you repeatedly work on a mental or physical skill with the aim of getting better in the future. Research suggests that children as young as five can start to understand deliberate practice, and children and adolescents who engage in it make gains in school achievement and motor skills.

What is deliberate practice?

When most people practice a skill they do what is known as shallow practice—they practice what they already know while they are only partly focused, which is not effective. 

In contrast, deliberate practice has four principles:

  1. Working on weaknesses: Instead of doing things that you already do well, deliberate practice focuses on the things that are hard for you. For example, you might work on a drill or skill that you’ve been having trouble with, rather than on one that you know well. During class times our instructors will have students repeat drills or techniques that need improvement – taking the time to break down the information into smaller more manageable pieces.
  2. Full concentration: Deliberate practice is difficult when you face distractions that make it hard to stay on task. Martial arts classes for kids are the perfect places to learn how to concentrate on the task at hand-it requires full focus to aim a kick onto a pad or when rolling or sparring in class.
  3. Feedback: In order to get the full benefits of deliberate practice you need to find out what you got right and where you made mistakes. Our professional martial arts instructors are trained to give this feedback in positive and constructive ways that encourage growth and build confidence. 
  4. Repetition until mastery: Deliberate practice requires you to keep working on your weaknesses, stay on task, and get feedback until you master your specific goal. Our safe and fun martial arts classes are designed to do just that-to learn, grow and repeat.

Learn more about our Karate, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu programs for kids!

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