At 48 years of age, I am hoping that I will never need to use my martial arts for self defence ever again but I still practice just in case. In a human's life span, the chances are that you will come under some type of confrontation whether its with a bully at school or a more life threatening situation, the statistics are pretty high. All it can take is a bad experience in a child's early years to affect the self esteem and confidence for the rest of their life. Why would you leave it to chance whether your child is going to be confident and stick up to bullies.
Sparring isn't like a real fight, its done in protective gear and in a safe environment and can be great fun. The complete opposite to a violence encounter. However sparring teaches children a good mindset to prepare themselves for physical encounters. In our classes, we bring sparring into classes gradually, lets face it, not many people who join a martial arts class enjoy getting punched in the face, especially as people normally join to increase their confidence, not to get it knocked out of them! Our students don't need to spar until they go for green belt and above, that's normally a year of training. Before that time, its sparring drills and learning the techniques needed. Its a fine balance of preparation and getting people to learn about controlling their techniques before letting them hit each other.
The photo included with this blog is my granddaughter, in her first ever sparring session. As much as we attempt to minimise risks of students getting hit a bit hard, especially at the start of their sparring days, it can happen. I do believe that you get more injuries in other sports like football, rugby, hockey etc than in martial arts thou. As students progress and get used to the contact, we then move them onto the advanced sparring sessions. These are a bit heavier and believe me I hate seeing anyone take a hard shot, these students are paying me for their services, the last thing I want to do is scare anyone off but reality check! What do you think will happen if your child gets punched in the street and has never experienced it before??
I am so passionate about instilling confidence into children so they don't live their lives running scared like I did for so many years. With all the other values and martial etiquette that we teach like respect, self-discipline, tolerance, patience, perseverance and emotional intelligence, our classes will turn out confident children who can look after themselves but with great ethics and morals.