We all want the very best for our kids! We want them to do well in school and life! I just read an incredible book called, “Smart Moves, Why Learning is Not All in Your Head” by Carla Hannaford, Ph. D. She explains how we learn so clearly. I was blown away by what I learned.
I have heard the quote that kids who take taekwondo lessons, martial arts lessons, do better in school and was intrigued by the comment. Why would that be? I assumed it was the memory work on forms or the focus skills learned. But in this book, Dr. Hannaford explained that the actual movement patterns we do in martial arts builds new nerve pathways! And the nerve pathways are beneficial not just in self -defense and physical development but in…learning to read and understanding math!
“Research shows that muscular activities, particularly coordinated balanced movements, appear to stimulate the production of neurotrophins, such as dopamine, natural substances that stimulate the growth of existing nerve cells and increase the number of new nerve cells and neural connections in the brain.”
“In 1995, many of America’s foremost brain researchers gathered in Chicago to examine the link between movement and learning. Since then, the research concerning the body/mind connection has been very prolific. Exercise, besides shaping up bones, muscles, heart and lungs also activates major growth of neurons and nerve nets in the basal ganglion, cerebellum and corpus callosum of the brain. A coordinated series of movements, done slowly with balance, produces increased neurotrophins and greater number of connections among neurons and even new nerve cell growth, especially in the hippocampus and frontal lobes of the brain.”
So how does martial arts practice do that? The forms or kata practice, which is a major component of traditional martial arts classes, is a prime example of coordinated movement. The body must be trained in movement patterns, which in turn creates bigger and better nerve networks.
Bilateral and cross lateral movement is also very apparent in martial arts training, all of which is building the pathways between the two hemispheres of the brain.
Even the fact that taekwondo is practiced barefoot is of benefit! “The more children can go barefoot, the more they develop their sense of balance and their entire vestibular system, which in turn affects their hearing, attention, language, and all learning.”
All this and we are actively working on life skills and character development in an organic fashion! No wonder we all love coming to work each day!