January 11, 2020

Most people know that karate and other martial arts classes require a lot of discipline. It’s not easy learning the techniques, and your typical sensei is quite strict. But how does that translate into doing better at school?

You might be surprised, especially at how little time it takes to show a difference in your child’s behavior in school. My daughter took her first martial arts classes in kindergarten (Tang Soo Do, to be specific), and her teacher commented in the first month that my daughter’s behavior in class had improved. That’s well before any belts were even possible to reach, aside from the introductory white belt that all students received at the end of the first class.

It’s not just how kids behave in class that can be improved, although that’s a nice plus. There may be more academic benefits to students who take karate and other martial arts classes.


This goes beyond just behaving in class. There’s always a goal to aim for in karate, whether it’s reaching the next belt level or figuring out that new move. It’s a lot of work, and that’s good for kids to learn in one place, so they can apply it in school.

Some senseis take things a bit farther and will also discipline kids in karate class for misbehavior at school. Most have very high expectations for how their students behave in their lives as a whole, not just how they behave at the dojo or studio.

Martial arts training takes a lot of focus. Students really have to pay attention to understand exactly how each move is performed, even when the sensei shows it slowly.

That focus translates into how academic work is done. Kids learn to keep focus on their studies, which allows them to do it more quickly and accurately.

Build Memorization Skills

As your child advances in the martial arts, many forms have them memorize a kata, or a series of moves performed in a precise sequence. Even the early ones can be fairly complex, and take a lot of practice to memorize.

While academic work should not all be memorization, a significant part of it will relate to having memorized the basics. This is an important skill for any student to master.


Learning a martial art is a great way to build a child’s confidence. It’s an amazing feeling to master a new skill, especially one that is so challenging. This is a great confidence builder.

It may not seem as though confidence is a skill much needed in school, but it truly can be important. Confidence means your child is more likely to speak his or her mind in discussions, or ask questions of the teacher. It can mean they cope better if they’re bothered by a bully. It may help them to be less afraid to learn new things.

Hard Work Is Rewarded

Hard work in karate classes are rewarded when your child takes the test and earns either a new stripe on their belt or the next level belt. They won’t get to the next level just for being in class; that stripe or belt must be earned. The students who work the hardest are usually the ones who advance the fastest.

This is great for students, as schools don’t always show that hard work is rewarded very well. The “A” student goes on to the next grade just as easily as the “C” student. Sure there’s a benefit to knowing the lessons better, but it’s not always so obvious to the kids. Having a place where hard work is more directly rewarded can help kids to better understand that their hard work in their studies will be rewarded in time as well.

The Importance of Respect

Karate doesn’t just teach your child self respect. It teaches them that others deserve respect too. This goes from the very start of classes, where the sensei has the class bow to show him respect, and respect is shown in return. Respect is shown to classmates, to opponents, to referees, and anyone else they deal with during karate classes.

This is a great lesson for kids, especially if they seen how respect should be mutual in the past. Karate helps them to see that they should respect their teachers, classmates, parents and others around them.

Of course, not all kids will have the same improvement or necessarily any at all. I don’t know that this has been studied in detail. Even so, self defense skills are a nice thing for anyone to have.

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I'm a mama to three lovely kids. I'm passionate about mothering and parenting, and am eager to share what I know on topics such as parenting, natural living and child safety.

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