Now that I am a doting mother of two girls, I would much rather have them participating in some form of martial arts over dancing.
My reasons are not based on avoiding them from developing a ‘princess complex’, I personally think martial arts is more nurturing and better for their self-esteem and discipline.
I have always thought the vision of little girls in their pink tutus practising their pliés or pirouettes is just way too cute. But, the constant attention and focus being paid to body image and ‘perfection’ is just too much, especially for particular personalities.
As a mother, I would rather protect my girls from this unnecessary pressure. I prefer them to focus on an activity that teaches them discipline, self-esteem, respect, involvement and verbal communication.
I find this even more important when I see how sensitive they are. A sport that teaches how to find inner strength is far more suited to them over one that is obsessed with physical beauty.
Like any mother, I think that my daughters are beautiful, and I tell them that every day. At the same time, I want them to learn that there is so much more to oneself than physical beauty, and that it is not to be obsessed over or exploited.
I want them to also find strength from within. The strength that one finds in their intellect, discipline, respect for others and passion in the pursuit of their dreams.
Martial arts aims to teach children how to be well-adjusted, disciplined and hard working.
The recipe for success in martial arts demands the need to work towards a goal, self-esteem, discipline, involvement in class, respect for teachers and students, physical development, coordination and mindfulness. Many of the principles taught in martial arts classes can be applied to life in general. Children are taught the importance of hard work, dedication and discipline in the pursuit of set goals. Perhaps the most valued lessons are self-esteem, confidence and the restraint and courage needed to walk away from hostile situations with dignity.
With such a high prevalence of bullying, depression and anxiety in today’s society, I feel that martial arts has the potential to better equip children with ways to cope and overcome these issues. Martial arts bases itself on drawing strength and resilience to combat hostile people and situations. This is opposed to the world of dance, whereby attention is placed on perfection and beauty, and one is criticised for not fulfilling that preconceived notion of what it really is.
Children need to learn how to stand up to bullying and abuse. They need to be equipped with the right methods of combating such negativity. Fighting fire with fire does not always work, and children should be able to know when it is best to simply walk away. Studying and practising the discipline of martial arts is by no means a free pass to thumping anyone we think is annoying or who we do not get along with.
Of course, both sports promote the social aspect of participation, but I have heard of more girls quitting (or being unhappy with) dancing due to the bullying, negative vibes and unrealistic pressure being put on them. Not only that, but so many have dedication many years to dance with no real prospects eventuating in terms of career and reaching professional status. Whereas, martial arts has welcomed more positive feedback with parents praising how much more disciplined, confident and content their children have become since training.
I just want to point out that I am not trying to criticise anyone who chooses dancing either for themselves or their children. Some people truly are destined for that industry and make it through just fine. And, I applaud those who do enjoy and succeed in the discipline. It is obviously not for everyone – and I do acknowledge that there is a required level of skill, hard work, training, dedication and discipline involved.
I just do not perceive it as the best environment for my children. I feel that they would benefit more from a sport or activity structured and focused much in the same way as martial arts. I can see that they have inherited my ‘sensitivities’, and they need an environment that is more nurturing as opposed to critical.
“I do not think that strength plays that big of a difference. If it is that big of a difference, then the elephant would be the king of the jungles, not the lion” – Anderson Silva
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