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Martial Arts: Self-control, Focus, Confidence for Children
By Rebecca Feist, MA, ACSM-RCEP

Master Brian WardMany children are naturally energetic, restless and excitable. Those characteristics combined with our overly connected world of screen devices have led to kids having difficulty with concentration, attention, and over activity. Creating structure, setting clear boundaries and routines are recommended to improve these behaviors. A number of families have found martial arts training can aid in those goals.

The specific practice of Tang Soo Do is a form of martial arts that does this through emphasizing self-control, concentration and confidence as the base of the discipline. Although teaching complex movements, everything that is done in class starts and ends with a clearly defined position where the child must make sure that every part of their body is in the correct place. All aspects of each position are the student's responsibility. They are expected to maintain these positions until instructed otherwise with the reward for that self-control being the next movement they practice in class.

From the moment a child starts their first lesson they begin working on improving their focus and concentration. Because every technique taught to the student has a proper sequence that engages the entire body, the students must focus on what they are doing to perform every single technique. Master Brian Ward who instructs the classes at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center says, "From the first and most basic activity in the private lessons to the most complex, we work with the student on staying in the moment and controlling their body."

Confidence is where the screaming, yelling and answering with a loud 'Yes Sir!" comes into play. New students are taught that they always answer with a loud confident "Yes Sir!" to show a positive attitude. It is twofold in that they show each other the respect of answering politely and respectfully with 'yes sir!' or 'yes ma'am" but it is also answering with a positive attitude. Some of the new things taught can be very challenging to the new students. Master Ward shared, "I always stress that the ability to perform the technique starts with self-belief. We show that by never saying the word 'can't' and always answering with a loud confident "Yes Sir!". Once the student truly believes they can do something, they absolutely will do it!"

Tang Soo Do classes are offered 6 days a week at the Washington Health System Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center. Please visit our website at wrcameronwellness.org or contact Master Brian Ward for more information at (724) 250-6261 or bdward@whs.org. Rebecca Feist is Fitness Operations Director, Washington Health System Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center

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