Kicking Takes Balance
Try doing a kick straight out in front of you, executing another one out to the side, and then yet another one behind you, at imaginary attackers from all sides, AND without touching your kicking foot to the floor at any time. Sound pretty hard? Well, our little children in the five to seven age groups are able to do this by the end of the first or second term of martial arts!
Standing on one leg while snapping kicks out in all directions takes incredible balance, learned through training in the martial arts. Some of the children have difficulty with it, but with a little praise and encouragement, they all finally get it. As the child advances they will learn spinning, turning, and jumping kicks, which are all amazing balance builders.
The Stances are the Foundation of Balance
The stances they learn teach them to keep a low centre of gravity and wider base, making it very difficult for a bully to knock them over. Focusing the eyes on a non-moving object out in front of them is something we teach them at the earliest stages of their training. Standing side-on from their opponents makes it harder for someone to push them down and increases their mobility while protecting their centreline, where most serious injuries will occur.
Drills and Exercises Build Balance
Some of the warm-up exercises we do involve the children standing on one leg while pulling their legs out to the side, as if they were doing a kick. Or maybe the eagle, dancer, or tree pose from yoga. The kids love these exercises as they are a great challenge and lots of laughs are heard throughout the training hall. Sometimes for additional challenge, we have them close their eyes.
Later on, when the children are ready to spar, or pretend fight, balance will play a key role in their ability to dodge their opponent’s attacks, while at the same time launching their own. The shuffling games and drills develop footwork, quickness, and balance as the the kids learn to move and evade attacks.
Improving a child’s balance from martial arts training will pay big dividends in their lives. They will find other sports easier to master, and will be less likely to have accidents. This will be especially true when they one day become senior citizens.