Karate is the ideal sport for teenagers for building self-confidence, fitness, flexibility, discipline, co-ordination, and courtesy, while learning basic self-defence skills.
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Confidence Issues Among Teenagers
Most young kids love participating in a variety of activities (sports, drama, scouts etc). This willingness to try new activities and meet new people builds their self-confidence and develops their social skills.
Sadly, by the time they become teenagers many give their activities up and become reluctant to try new ones. One reason for this is the onset of puberty, which can quickly diminish a teenager’s self-confidence. Karate classes are set up in a manner to combat this drop in self-confidence and in fact, serve to build it. A few examples of this are:
- Puberty creates a vast difference in physical size and shape between teenagers because each teen develops at their own body’s pace. With this, many teenagers shy away from most sports due to their competitive nature.Karate is a non-competitive sport where each person moves at their own pace. This non-competitive environment allows a person to focus purely on their own improvement and development. As they continue to train and improve slightly every week, it serves to bolster their self-confidence.
- Many teens feel self-conscious about the changes occurring in their body. Therefore, they avoid any activity (eg sport, drama, school council etc) where they will have an audience or spectators. Instead they prefer to spend time in their room or amongst a few friends they feel comfortable with.Being a non-competitive sport, the sidelines of a karate class are not full of cheering spectators. While a few parents choose to watch, many drop their children off or choose to participate themselves. This creates an environment where a teenager can feel completely comfortable to train without worrying what others might think of them.
- For the first time in their life, they spend the majority of their time comparing themselves to others (their body shape, their skin, their clothes). Most teens will develop an opinion of someone simply by seeing clothes (the brands or style) they wear. They also use their own choice of clothing to define who they are to others.As karate is about developing character, a uniform was designed specifically with this in mind. A uniform (called a gi) takes away a person’s ‘clothing identity’. In the karate uniform, each person looks exactly the same.The colour white was specifically chosen as a symbol of creating a ‘blank canvass’ so to speak. This meant the only way a person could be judged was on the quality of their character rather than their clothing.Furthermore, the karate uniform is loose fitting. This was designed for comfort and movement without restriction. However a loose fitting garment over the entire body also removes excess-ego and self-consciousness about a person’s body type. Once again, leaving only a person’s character as a basis on which to judge them.Preventing the drop in confidence, and what’s more, building their self-confidence is critical among teenagers. Confidence is something that will help them in every area of their life, from meeting new friends, trying new activities, finding their first part-time job, raising their hand to ask a question in class or getting up and presenting something to their class at school.
Fitness And Teens
Karate is a rare activity in that it uses every muscle and bone in the body, creating a full-body workout. Considering teens come in all shapes, sizes and fitness levels, it is an ideal activity because each person may go at his or her own pace.
This creates an environment where the fittest of teens can walk out of class completely exhausted, or those who lack any real fitness can leave having just pushed their comfort zones.
Many teens who play sport at representative levels train in karate as a means to improve their fitness, coordination, flexibility and agility. Equally, many teens who are not involved in sports train in karate for the basic health benefits; such as weight loss, muscle toning, improved cardio-vascular fitness and flexibility.