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Martial Arts for ADHD Children: Improves Self-Esteem, Focus, and Coordination

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric condition in children and is a major reason for referral to a pediatrician, family physician, pediatric neurologist, child psychiatrist or psychologist. An estimated three to five percent of school-age youngsters have AD or ADHD and some also have associated learning disabilities. More than two million children in North America between the ages of 5 and 18 have some different challenges in how they walk through life and experience things.

ADHD kids experience issues with memory, anxiety, and fear each and every day. This is often coupled with hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and difficulty with containing one’s energy levels.

ADHD kids tend to fixate on the present and lack a clear picture of the past and the future. This can make it very hard for them when there is a lot of waiting time or a lot of complicated expansive instructions or transitioning from activity to activity.

Structure, routine, and organization creates order in their lives and makes them feel good and safe: at home, at school, and extracurricular activities.

Studies show that a complex physical activities like martial arts, strengthens neural networks in the brain, and teaches children with attention challenges how to master their minds, to focus their energy, and gain self-control.

 “John Ratey, M.D, the author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” tells ADDitude magazine that regular exercise, like karate, can turn on a child’s attention system — consisting of the cerebellum, frontal cortex and limbic system — which can affect the parts of the brain responsible for sequencing, prioritizing, working memory and sustaining attention. According to Ratey, exercise does this by increasing the brain’s dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These brain chemicals can positively affect the attention system’s ability to stay regular and consistent, which can increase alertness in children with ADHD.”

When attention challenged children’s minds are so focused on coordinating their body movements that they forget their worries and anxiety. The better they get at coordinating their minds and bodies, the more confident they begin to feel.

In Karate you learn “Kata” which is a set sequence of karate moves organized into a pre-arranged fight against imaginary opponents. The kata consists of kicks, punches, sweeps, strikes, blocks, and throws. Body movement in various kata includes stepping, twisting, turning, dropping to the ground, and jumping.

When students perform their Karate Kata they are demonstrating a total commitment of body, mind, and spirit, and to channel all of their available energy and apply it appropriately to the required technique.

Karate is so much more than pure physical exercise; fantastic exercise at that, but it coordinates and connects the mind to the body. This is why many children with AD and ADHD find great success in martial arts.  Parents know how the key to focusing their children’s physical energy is with their minds too.

Lee’s Karate locations in Jonesboro, Paragould, and Franklin have classes daily Monday through Friday for ages 4 and up.  When you sign up for a membership for your children or for your entire family; you can attend every single day or you can attend three days a week or twice a week. We sure hope to see you as much as possible!


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