Is there a connection between being a martial artist and getting excellent grades? Well, let me tell you a story (about a student in another Martial Arts academy) that might reveal the answer.
Cole, a sixth-grade student, was having a tough time in school. Although he was a bright kid, he just wasn’t living up to his potential. Test after test, and subject after subject, his grades fell short. Cole’s parents were concerned. Their hearts sank every time Cole brought home his report card and they feared he would eventually be held back. After many meetings with Cole’s teachers, they still weren’t any closer to a solution. Nothing seemed to help. Finally, over lunch one day, Cole’s Mom shared their struggle with a family friend. The friend suggested enrolling Cole in a local Martial Arts academy. Cole’s Mom was skeptical – while she had heard Martial Arts can sometimes spark a dramatic turnaround in a child’s grades, she didn’t understand how. But she decided to take her friend’s advice and enroll Cole in Martial Arts classes anyway.
From that moment on, Cole was a different student. First, his parents saw a dramatic change in his outlook towards school – he became much more positive and displayed a “can-do” attitude. He participated more in class and his confidence skyrocketed. Cole finally started to believe his hard work would pay off in the form of better grades and he started setting bigger goals for himself.
Soon afterwards, his test scores reflected his improved behavior. His teachers almost didn’t believe it was the same kid. The end of the school year rolled around and his parents were shocked: Cole had raised his grades from barely passing to A’s and B’s. They even called the teacher to verify that they had received the right report card! Yes, it was Cole’s report card – and the teacher congratulated them on their son’s remarkable turnaround. An amazing transformation had taken place. Chalk up another win for Martial Arts.
It’s no secret that kids in Martial Arts get better grades than their peers. But what is it exactly about Martial Arts that help kids get better grades? Well, that has always remained a mystery... until now. In the next few minutes, I’m going to reveal why I believe Martial Arts helps build a foundation for success in school…and how Martial Arts can prepare YOUR child for the academic challenges they’ll face in the future. Let’s dig in and talk about the first one:
To improve any aspect of your life - grades included - you must first set a goal. And guess what? Goal-setting is one of the cornerstones of Martial Arts programs. Martial Arts training teaches students to set goals by defining their values, writing down what they hope to achieve, visualizing the desired end result (or outcome) and by taking a large goal and breaking it down into a series of smaller steps (or bite-sized “chunks”).
Teaches How to Learn
Martial Arts also teach kids how to learn. See, I like to think of Martial Arts as a “hierarchy of skills”. The higher rank forms and techniques build upon the foundation created in the lower ranks. For example, there is no way a white belt can walk in our academy and expect to perform black belt forms. It’s just not possible. Academics work the same way. Take mathematics, for instance. A student can’t hope to grasp calculus until they have a solid foundation in algebra, fractions and basic computation.
It’s this step-by-step approach that teaches students that the secret of learning something complex is actually easy. All they have to do is master the basics of one skill set before moving on to the next. We do this every single day in our Martial Arts classes. We challenge students to improve every class through a “building process” – one skill placed on top of the other. Students quickly learn that a series of small steps combine into big achievements. The more a student achieves, the more confident he or she becomes. And in school, greater confidence means a child participates in the classroom more, has greater faith in their own abilities, gets noticed by the teacher and can take the lead more.
Focus and Concentration
Study after study proves marital Arts training improves concentration and focus. And I’m sure you’d agree: the ability to focus is critical in school! That’s why one of the easiest ways to improve a child’s grades is by improving their powers of concentration and focus. But the problem is that many kids can’t focus without training. The good news, however, is that learning how to focus is a skill that can be taught. And the best place to learn focus and concentration? Right here in our academy. Martial Arts training teaches children how to calm their minds, relax, shut out distractions and focus on the task at hand. Even kids diagnosed with ADD and ADHD often see a marked improvement after Martial Arts training. That's why the Mayo Clinic advises, “Children with ADHD often do very well with...Martial Arts classes, especially karate or Taekwondo”.
Improved focus pays off in many ways. First, a child absorbs more in the classroom. Second, their behavior improves (remember attitude towards learning, behavior and classroom participation are often graded). Third, homework becomes easier and tests become less stressful. Yes, focus and concentration are critical skills for academic excellence – and Martial Arts teaches both.
Performing Under Pressure
The only way to improve in Martial Arts is to listen to your instructor, leave your ego at the door and accept constructive criticism with an open mind. And this is another way Martial Arts training improves a child’s academics: by teaching kids to perform under pressure and take direction in a positive manner. You see Martial Arts students receive constant feedback on their forms, on their self-defense techniques, on their sparring moves and their weapons skills. They’re also judged publicly. This helps the student stay calm in stressful situations. A student who can handle being tested in front of 50 or 100 people can certainly handle a spelling test! This leads to a more secure self, the ability to accept criticism openly and being comfortable in their own “skin”. All of these are very important skills for scholastic success.
Perseverance and Hard Work
The idea of “hard work” has fallen out of fashion in some circles. It seems like everything these days is about short-cuts and getting as much as you can for the least amount of effort possible. Not here - and not in Martial Arts. Like I said earlier, there is no way to “shortcut” your way to becoming a black belt. Martial Arts demand the old-world values of hard work, sacrifice and effort. It also teaches that to reach a goal, you need to stay true to your path. This is the meaning of perseverance. Of course, perseverance pays dividends in the academic world, as well - for example, the ability to face a problem head-on and stick with it until the task is finished.
We Support Your Efforts at Home
One of the biggest goals at our academy is to help your child become a well-rounded individual - somebody who can meet the challenges of life head-on. This encompasses social skills, athletic skills and academic skills. As you’ll see in our “Most Improved Report Card Contest” (on page five), a big part of our training reinforces the positive messages you send to your child about schoolwork – for example, the importance of getting good grades in school, listening during class, and doing your best. Here are some of the ways we back up your efforts:
- We monitor for a student’s excellent or improved report card.
- We reinforce – in class - who did well in school and we acknowledge students for their academic achievements.
- We impress upon students the importance of paying attention in class, following their teacher’s instructions and showing discipline.
You couldn’t ask for a better support system – we want to see your child win as much as you do!
Being a Black Belt Opens Doors
This is the icing on the cake. What do I mean by “being a black belt opens doors”? Here’s a simple example: Let’s say you’re an admissions officer at a prestigious university. You have a choice between two applicants. Both have equal transcripts, both scored the same on their SAT’s and both got the same grades in high school. But one thing separates one applicant from another: “Applicant A” is a second-degree black belt and “Applicant B” is not. Which one would YOU choose? The answer is obvious. Being a black belt makes a big impression on most people - people in college admissions, job interviewers, clients and a lot more. The words Black Belt conjure up an image of somebody who has sacrificed to achieve something greater than the average person. Yes, the words “Black Belt” sounds very, very good during college interviews. Being a Black Belt can also make you some money when you’re away at college. With over 1,000 ATA schools in the country, chances are you’ll find a school nearby that needs help. ATA schools are always looking for high-quality certified instructors. Being a certified instructor is a highly specialized job skill in demand. This brings me to the next point…
Finally, let’s talk about leadership. This training might make the biggest impact of all on a student’s grades and academic achievement. See, to propel your child to the front of the pack and help them really succeed in life, they must become a leader among their peers. One of the first things we teach in our Leadership classes is how to be a good follower, a good student, how to listen, how to respect authority, how to be open and willing to learn. The Leadership training your child receives in our academy could be the “one little thing” that helps them make their mark in this world and sets them up for success throughout their entire life. (If your child is NOT yet enrolled in our Leadership program, please see me and I’ll be happy to provide some information about it).
Goal-setting. Concentration and focus. Learning how to handle tests and performing under pressure. The values of hard work, perseverance and discipline. The special prestige of being a black belt. Leadership skills. In our academy, all of these elements combine to build a solid foundation for your child’s success in school and a lasting framework for academic excellence!