Physical Fitness. Physical fitness has always been a core benefit of martial arts. In a study, parents expressed an appreciation of general fitness and healthy, but several expressed an appreciation for the way that martial arts helps enhance fitness in a unique way - flexibility.
Parents expressed value in the development of flexibility, something they believe is neglected by other sports. Parents perceive flexibility as a valuable physical benefit that contributes to increase ability in other sports and activities like soccer, football, and dance.
Consequently, parents see martial arts as part of a holistic program to augment other physical activities and increase performance in other environments.
Self-Discipline. Parents find self-discipline an exceptional value of martial arts training. In addition to having the discipline to work hard at physical training, parents also value the personal restraint to handle and de-escalate conflicts verbally without physical confrontation. Parents said that self-discipline allows their children to refrain from using their martial arts inappropriately.
Another value of self-discipline sought by parents is practical application of restraint. Parents want to know their children can use this skill to remain within the bounds of acceptable societal (nonviolent) behavior. Parents also feel that with martial arts training, children are better able to navigate the no-tolerance policies enacted at many academic schools.
Self-Defense. Self-Defense is a primary skill that many students look for when pursuing martial arts classes. Parents are looking for an activity that improves physical fitness and agility. However, they also want their children to gain the skill, confidence, and spirit to handle themselves during altercations or times of need.
Media Influence. Films, television, and media influence also proved strong influences on purchase decisions for parents. Many parents cited their child’s desire to emulate martial arts stars like Power Rangers and TMNT as a strong enticement. The nature of many martial arts shows offer wholesome messages and portrays martial arts training as a strong tool for character development. Parents see these as healthy role models and good examples for children to follow.
Bullying Prevention. Another element is bullying. It’s a serious program that can greatly harm a child’s self-esteem and future. The effects of bullying can be extreme, resulting in physical injury, self-harm, or even death. Even though this social program has seen dramatic increases in public awareness, the issues has yet to be abolished. Many schools offer anti-bullying programs to assist students, and interviewed parents expressed appreciation for these offerings.
However, parents maintained concern over what role they play in alleviating the ouse of bullying. In particular, parents are concerned about identifying when bullying is taking place.
Alternative to Team Sports. Parents expressed alternative to team sports as a strong decision motivator. Many children have negative experiences with team sports. Some children sit on the bench and don’t receive much play time. Others don’t receive much attention from coaches.
The pressure to practice or compete can be too much for some children, making them not want to participate. Parents relayed stories of children refusing to go to practice. Others discussed negative competition experiences as reasons they turned to martial arts lessons as an outlet for extracurricular activities.
Alternatively, some parents cited value in the opportunity for individual achievement. One parent noted that with martial arts, their child can succeed or fail based on their own efforts and merit. They consider the reliance on other members of the team to be a hindrance and negative experience.
Ease of Participation. Ease of participation is another new reason for parents selecting martial arts. Participation in a competition cheer squad or soccer team can be an exceptionally demanding commitment. Practices are at very specific times, there are severe penalties for missing practice, and there is no flexibility for game times. These challenges and demands on time can make team memberships and participation difficult, even for children who enjoy and excel in team sports.
Affordability. Cost is a factor in all purchases, but a newly identified one of martial arts lessons. Parents expressed how expensive after-school activities are becoming. One parent stated that participating in the school band cost upward of $3,000 per year with heavy travel commitments. Another spent $3,500 and over 200 volunteer hours to support his daughter’s swim team participationThese parents find the more modest monthly tuition for martial arts training very compelling.
One of the most important items uncovered about parent decision motivators for martial arts is the trial class or trial period. It’s an extension of the cost-benefit rationale, in that parents feel it provides them with a no-strings attached opportunity to see how classes work and how their children react to training.
Goal-Setting & Attainment. Parents value the process of goal-setting and attainment inherent in martial arts training. Parents appreciate the belt testing cycle that comes with rank progression in the martial arts. Parents observed that setting short achievable goals and then being measured on performance was meaningful.
The belt-testing process teaches children how to approach long-term goals and divide the work into incremental tasks and work diligently to success. Moreover, periodic belt-testing is motivating for students. Children feel like they are always progressing, which helps keep them invested and interested in martial arts.
Convenience. Last, convenience proves a strong decision motivator for parents. Today’s world is fast-paced, and children have tremendous amount of academic school and non-school activities. Meeting all their obligations is difficult for parents to manage, especially in homes with multiple children or a single parent.
In this demanding context, parents find the flexible nature of martial arts participating compelling. The open-ended nature of attending class a few nights a week with flexible class days and options makes martial arts a more feasible activity than some others. One parent moved all three of her children into martial arts to reduce the weekly activity churn she was experiencing in trying to take three children to three different activities.
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