In order to choose the right martial arts dojo (dojang) for you and your family, it’s important to first identify your goals. Different studios cater to different objectives. For example, many instructors specialize in teaching self-defense. Others focus on spiritual development. Still others offer classes that specifically prepare students for tournaments and competition. The problem is, dojos rarely excel in everything. Your experience at any given school will depend heavily on whether the instructor is qualified to meet your unique goals.
In this article, I’ll provide an overview of the four most common aims of martial arts classes. We’ll take a look at self-defense, spiritual growth, self-discipline, and competition.
#1 – Self-Defense And Vocational Confrontations
A large number of beginning students have the impression that learning karate, judo, and other styles will train them to defend themselves. Even though learning the various fighting systems can meet that need, it’s worth clarifying a few points.
First, it’s a narrow perception of the instruction offered by dojos. Martial arts can offer much more than mere fighting techniques. Second, most schools that offer instruction in combat training focus on that single objective to the exclusion of other goals. The reason is due how such training is delivered. True combat training requires a psychological leap in order to inflict injury – and in some cases, death. Most studios will not offer that type of instruction.
#2 – Spiritual And Physical Health
Many classes focus on helping students achieve spiritual growth. Dojos that offer this type of instruction help enrollees develop an inner harmony that strengthens the connection between their mind, spirit, and body. It’s not uncommon for pupils to practice these “gentle” styles throughout their lives.
Other disciplines focus on physical health; students are given an opportunity to participate in intense aerobic activity. In effect, they receive a physical workout that puts all of their limbs and muscles to use. Many parents enroll their children into this type of martial arts class in order to help their kids stay active throughout the year (team sports are usually seasonal).
#3 – Self-Discipline And Behavior Modification
This aim has the most benefit for children and young adults. Parents who enroll their kids into martial arts classes often discover their children gain a boost in confidence and mental focus. What’s more, young people learn the value of being respectful and courteous to others. Their ability to socialize and maintain friendships with peers also improves.
Increasingly, many experts have suggested that martial arts classes can prove invaluable for children with ADD. The instruction helps them clear their minds and eliminate distractions. It gives them singularity of purpose. As a result, kids with behavioral issues slowly learn the benefits of self-control.
#4 – Tournaments And Competition
Many students are instinctively drawn toward participating in tournaments. Whether they do so as an outlet for aggressive energy, or to sate a competitive thirst, it requires a high level of dedication. Martial arts classes that train pupils for competition focus on proficiency in technique, quick response, and the ability to calculate an opponent’s skill. Instruction for some fighting disciplines, such as Taekwondo, is specifically geared toward tournament competition.
Most dojos focus on one main objective in their martial arts classes. Whether self-defense, spiritual development, self-discipline, or tournament fighting, it’s important to know which is their primary aim. That’s the only way you and your family can confidently enroll into classes that will meet your needs and personal goals. Given that karate, aikido, kung fu, and other styles tend to become an enduring passion, a little research can help pave the road for a fulfilling, lifelong experience.
By: Frank Lucer