Breaking Barriers and Dispelling Myths
Dispelling Myths about Violence in Martial Arts for Autistic Children
The popularity of martial arts has surged in the Western world over the past decades, with millions participating in this sport. This growth also extends to the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community, where martial arts have garnered interest. However, misconceptions and concerns around the perceived violence associated with martial arts can hinder the enrollment of autistic children. Many in the martial arts community, like Achieve and it’s online martial arts platform, work to debunk these myths and highlight the positive impact of martial arts on autistic children’s development.
The media and entertainment industry have often portrayed martial arts in a sensationalized manner, leading to misconceptions about its violent nature. This portrayal can cause parents to view martial arts as an aggressive sport, making them hesitant to enroll their autistic children. However, research shows that the actual foundation of martial arts goes beyond Hollywood dramatization and is rooted in values such as respect, restraint, and discipline.
Addressing Basic Concerns
Parents of autistic children often worry about their child’s participation in a sport perceived as “aggressive.” The concern arises from the tendency of some autistic children to physically lash out due to frustration. However, long-term benefits far outweigh these concerns. Studies have demonstrated that martial arts training for autistic children results in improved cooperative behavior, communication, and overall behavioral adaptation.
Evidence of Positive Impact
Research indicates that martial arts can significantly benefit autistic children. A study involving autistic children in a martial arts program found substantial improvements in communication, cooperation, and adaptive behavior. Another study involving school-aged children with autism reported enhanced executive function and emotional regulation after participating in martial arts training. These findings reinforce the positive impact martial arts can have on children with developmental challenges.
Focus on Self-Control and Discipline
Contrary to misconceptions, the essence of martial arts is not centered around physical combat but rather self-control, discipline, and character development. The principles of respect, restraint, and responsibility are deeply ingrained in martial arts practices. This focus on character development and emotional regulation makes martial arts a suitable avenue for children with autism to cultivate positive behaviors.
Studies comparing aggression levels in different sports highlight martial arts’ unique benefits. A study examining aggression in taekwondo participants, hockey players, and non-sport groups found that verbal aggression and hostility scores were significantly lower in taekwondo participants. This suggests that martial arts training promotes emotional regulation and conflict resolution, countering the stereotype of heightened aggression.
Holistic Benefits of Martial Arts
Martial arts offer a wide range of benefits beyond physical exercise. The practice cultivates balance, self-awareness, motivation, physical fitness, flexibility, self-esteem, cognitive function, patience, and goal-setting. Research has shown that martial arts training emphasizes self-discipline, self-defense, and conflict avoidance rather than promoting violence. As a result, children who engage in martial arts tend to exhibit lower levels of aggression as those involved in team sports.
The transformative potential of martial arts is evident in its ability to reshape at-risk children’s cognitive and psychological factors. Studies have indicated that martial arts training can reduce aggressive tendencies, enhance executive functioning, and promote psychological well-being. The focus on repetitive movements, controlled behaviors, and respect within martial arts contributes to these positive outcomes.
Contrary to misconceptions, martial arts offer a wealth of benefits for autistic children, fostering their physical, cognitive, and emotional development. The emphasis on self-control, character development, and conflict resolution dispels the notion of inherent violence. As martial arts training continues to prove its positive impact, it emerges as a valuable tool for enhancing the holistic well-being of children, regardless of their developmental challenges.
About Laguna Beach Dojo
Laguna Beach Dojo was founded in 2002 by Jeffrey Kash, a 6th-degree Black Belt and Master Instructor. The dojo offers lessons for preschool children ages 4-6 as well as elementary and beyond age kids ages 7 and up. The classes are designed to develop life skills that will help create excellence in school and high levels of success later in life.
The Laguna Beach Dojo teaches adult martial arts as well in both designated adult classes as well as family-based classes. The classes are a great workout and offer a complete fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay in shape), or learn self-defense in a supportive and safe environment.
For questions, please contact one of our instructors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 949-763-4017 (mobile). You can also visit our website at LagunaBeachKarate.com or email Master Kash at MasterKash@LagunaBeachKarate.com.
About Master Jeff Kash
Master Kash is a sixth-degree black belt and master instructor. He has an engineering degree from Oregon State University and has been teaching martial arts for over 25 years. He has owned six martial arts schools in Southern California, but his greatest passion is getting to have a positive impact in the growth and development of each of his students. He especially enjoys the bond that is created when a child starts training in elementary school and sticks with it through middle and high school on their path to Black Belt or even 2nd Degree Black Belt before heading off to college.
See what some of our students have to say!
From a parent:
My son has an IEP at school for a processing disorder and ADHD and this school has been such a game changer for him! Master Kash knows how to work with my son’s needs, keep him motivated, and gives him the space to learn at his pace. Everyone is always so kind, patient, and gracious with him. Since starting here my son has learned how to manage his focus and attention to improve his reading and math. I can’t recommend Laguna Beach Dojo more!
-Samantha Andrus, teacher, student and mother of students Finn and Kali
From an adult student:
It’s hard for me to put into words how beneficial Laguna Beach Dojo has been for me. I have a professional life and I work quite a bit. Laguna Beach Dojo has helped to keep me present, focused, and motivated. The things I have learned at the Dojo translate almost every single day in many of my real life scenarios. I haven’t just been taught how to defend myself, I’ve been able to grow more than I ever thought was possible, more than I even realized that I needed. I know its cliche, but if I could give more than 5 stars, I would. Keep up the positive and productive work within our community.
-Shawn Bullington, Business Executive