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Benefits of Martial Arts in Frisco for ADHD

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Studies show that a complex physical activity, like martial arts, strengthens neural networks in the brain, and enables ADD/ADHD kids to practice self-control. Movement helps them develop coordination while building strength.

What Martial Arts Offers to “Complex” Kids

What exactly does martial arts teach, besides punching and kicking? Why would you choose martial arts over baseball or soccer?

Unlike most team sports, martial arts are focused around an individual’s personal growth, rather than comparison to others. This makes martial arts a great outlet for children in general, and particularly helpful for children with challenges. “Team” sports have a heavy focus on physical development focused on helping children become better at a single sport. Martial arts focus on four fundamental areas of growth:

  1. Social development – Teaching the importance of leadership, teamwork, respect, accountability and honesty. Through in class drills and mat chats, instructors talk about key points of leadership development. Students learn how to communicate with one another in an effective manner. Giving requirements to kids with ADD/ADHD builds responsibility and independence. Holding them accountable for their actions is a huge step in their development.
  1. Emotional development– Building self-confidence, mental/physical control, courage and perseverance (what I believe to be one of the most important lessons we teach). Students are challenged to go above and beyond the expectations they have set for themselves, encouraged to never give up on their goals, never letting limitations or setbacks stop them from becoming successful. For children with ADD/ADHD, mental/physical control can be very difficult to manage. Martial arts engage and stimulate the mind and body from start to finish.
  1. Intellectual Development- Learning how to focus and training to become self- disciplined. (Focus was the main reason why my parents enrolled me in martial arts). Since our kids with ADD/ADHD constantly struggle with focusing and staying on task, we treat the brain just like every other muscle in the body, pushing it to its limits with memory and concentration games, as well as educating each student in how to apply every skill we learn in the studio, at home, at school and everywhere else they go.
  1. Physical Development- Training the body to have balance, speed, agility, flexibility, strength and coordination. Every class is a challenge, working on a range of important health and fitness aspects that apply to every sport and physical activity. Everything we teach creates a strong foundation of functional movements that enhances athleticism. Physical activity is one of the best releases for children with ADD/ADHD. It helps stimulate the brain for better focus and performance.


Additional Benefits of Martial Arts

Immersion Children with ADHD often think ahistorically, according to the Babycenter parenting website, which means they fixate on the present and lack a clear picture of the past and the future. Activities with a lot of waiting time or complicated instructions can cause them to lose their focus and their interest and ability to complete the activity. The intense mental and physical involvement required to participate in martial arts allows ADHD children to immerse themselves in the activity. This can help them complete the activity, which can boost their self-esteem and confidence in themselves.

Better Self-Control Martial Arts emphasize self-control, including self-discipline and respect for yourself and others. The typical class begins and ends with a bow to the teacher. Children must also stand quietly and wait for their instructor's next command. Since self-control is often under-developed in children with ADHD, the increased emphasis on these skills can carry across into their home life or school environment. This can lead to better grades and improved behavior.

Improved Focus and Concentration  John Ratey, M.D, the author of "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain" tells ADDitude magazine that regular exercise, like martial arts, can turn on a child's attention system -- consisting of the cerebellum, frontal cortex and limbic system -- which can affect the parts of the brain responsible for sequencing, prioritizing, working memory and sustaining attention. According to Ratey, exercise does this by increasing the brain's dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These brain chemicals can positively affect the attention system's ability to stay regular and consistent, which can increase alertness in children with ADHD.

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