ADHD and Martial Arts
Updated: Jan 7
According to Webster's Dictionary, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is defined as a developmental disorder that is marked especially by persistent symptoms of inattention (such as distractibility, forgetfulness, or disorganization) or by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity (such as fidgeting, speaking out of turn, or restlessness) or by symptoms of all three and that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or mental disorder.
In many cases, when a child is diagnosed with ADHD the doctor will recommend enrolling the child martial arts as a way to help in addition to the ADHD medications, or in some cases, to keep them off of ADHD medications and used as a substitute. At Seo's Martial Arts, one student really comes to mind with this subject. A young kid named Alex was diagnosed with ADHD; his mom didn't want to put him on medicine if she could get away with it, so she enrolled him in martial arts instead. Mr. Alex not only was able to stay off of ADHD medication, but he is now a 3rd-degree black belt and one of our best instructors!
Now anyone who has been to a martial arts class or belt promotion testing knows that ranking up to black belt is no easy task, but ranking up to 3rd-degree black belt and becoming an instructor takes a special kind of patience, focus, and self-discipline that the average person does not possess. The great thing about martial arts is that while yes it does require the focus and self-disciple that people with ADHD tend to lack in, a good instructor can take the aspects of ADHD and turn them into something productive and amazing.
One amazing thing about martial arts classes is that they are fast-paced. While they do require focus, it isn't the typical "sitting still and listening and watching" kind of focus. Students are constantly active and moving so that tends to make it easier for those who fidget and learn by getting up and doing rather than sitting down and listening. In addition to this, there is always something new to learn or a new way to learn the same thing, so there is no need to worry about losing focus due to boredom.
Many parents tend to put ADHD and lack of self-control in the same category because of the constant distraction and impulsivity seems to cause those with ADHD to have a hard time with self-discipline (but don't we all struggle with that?). As martial arts teachers, we have to teach self-control! First and foremost because it is a contact sport and we want our students to be able to defend themselves, but we enforce the rule that martial arts is for that self-defense and safety only! It is not to go around ninja kicking other kids in the face. Secondly, we teach and encourage self-control in a classroom setting. Our students know that we have certain expectations of them to listen, learn, and follow our directions. They also understand that when they don't meet those expectations, something has to be done. That could mean something small like not letting them get to play a game, making them do pushups, or even holding them back from ranking up to a new belt.
As I mentioned before, a good martial arts instructor can turn the "negative traits" of ADHD and put them into a positive and constructive light! We can turn hyperactivity and excitement into excelling in fun activities and being a great team member
organized class setting. We can use the restlessness and turn it into great sparring. We can even use the disorganization and forgetfulness and mold it into a student who can memorize all they need to know for their belt rank!
Martial arts is the perfect activity for people with ADHD; it takes the day-to-day challenges that those with ADHD struggle with and meets them head-on with the perfect solutions!
Do you want to enroll yourself or someone you love into martial arts? Feel free to try out a FREE class at Seo's Martial Arts! www.seosmartialarts.com or 706-629-7367.
Rome | Calhoun | Summerville | Albany
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