Martial arts in India date back to the Indus valley civilisation and are an integral part of the country’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. Shaolin Kung fu which includes a variety of Chinese martial arts is believed to have an Indian origin.
While Kalaripaayatu the martial art form of Kerala is regarded as a the ‘Mother of all martial arts’; the others include the Thang ta from Manipur, Silambam from Tamil Nadu, Gatka from Punjab, Sqay from Kashmir, Mardaani Khel from Maharashtra, Kushti from Kolhapur, Lathi from Punjab and West Bengal, Pari-khanda shield fighting from Bihar and Inbuan wrestling from Mizoram. Swift movements of the foot, kicks, punches, and knee & elbow strikes, certain weapon based practices such as fighting using Sword and Shield, cane sticks are the general techniques used in these martial arts.
It is often perceived that martial arts are an excellent physical fitness and self-defence tool. However there is more to martial arts than just physical fitness. They are a proficient tool for the physical, mental and spiritual development. The fine athleticism, the force, precision and momentum at various levels of the body can only be achieved through martial arts.
Learning martial arts imbibes in children a sense of confidence and self esteem as they learn to defend themselves and protect themselves in adverse situations. When children feel good about themselves they gain the confidence to accomplish any task bravely ever in their lives. The precise body movements improve attention span in children by teaching them to focus on the task at hand alongside sharpening their listening and reaction skills.
Beyond a great workout and self-defence tool; martial arts require a huge amount of dedication, passion and discipline. The self control and dedication to carry out a task by adopting a particular pattern works miracles for achieving developmental milestones. The preparedness to combat adversities makes children tough both physically and mentally. Healthy posture and a strong balance improve fundamental skills and instil the importance of healthy living at a young age.
Fine tuned motor skills and coordinated physical movements improve muscle strength. The movements in space create awareness of the body in space making children less susceptible to injuries. Kids with a sound vestibular sense are better coordinated and balanced.
No feeling can be greater than a sense of security. Martial arts imbibe in children self confidence and courage to deal with unpleasant situations. The children therefore have lower levels of anxiety and increased sense of responsibility. They have greater social awareness and intelligence. Children are also taught to respect each other, their teachers and the art they are practising.
Another unnoticed aspect of martial arts is that they reflect a country’s heritage, history and culture. So joining a martial arts class is a feast for children; along with fitness it provides an opportunity to discover and connect to the roots.