If you’re looking for a great way to keep fit, or if you’re a parent looking for a fun activity for your children, martial arts might not be the first thing that comes to mind.
Michael McHugh teaches Taekwondo at Fraser Heights Black Belt Academy. He says fitness and fun are just the start.
“Everyone, kids or adults, comes away with better confidence, self-discipline, and respect,” he said.
These, he says, are the building blocks of leadership and success. Fraser Heights Academy teaches people from age four on up. Kids acquire discipline and focus while they learn. And so do the adults, though most are motivated to join for fitness or to learn self-defence.
Excel at your own pace
In our hockey- and soccer-mad culture, it’s easy to see the benefits of team sports. But McHugh says not everyone reaches their potential within the team dynamic.
“Kids develop at all different levels,” he said. “Here everyone can excel at their own pace. The spectrum is quite wide, but by the time they get a black belt, they’ve narrowed the spectrum. They’re all similar in skill.”
Meanwhile the Academy provides a positive place for teens to hang out, to have awesome role models and make lasting friendships, while building confidence in all aspects of their lives.
For all age levels, Taekwondo is a great workout for cardio, flexibility, mobility, and hand-eye coordination. But McHugh always brings the discussion back to the mental and psychological benefits.
And others have noticed. “We get invited by corporations to help team development, for leadership skills, and working on focus,” McHugh said.
A great family workout
Working out together can be great for families, too. McHugh says often a parent will train along with a child, or whole families can learn together. And as often as the parents help the kids, it also works the other way around.
“We get entire families that train and sometimes the kids are helping the parents or the parents are helping the kids. When you have the whole family going they all help each other stay motivated long-term.”
Occasional competitions give the training even more focus. McHugh says the competitions are fun, and a great way to make friends.
“It’s just a safe place to challenge yourself,” he said. “We encourage the kids to go because you’re surrounded by good people, so it’s good to make friends. And I’ve met a lot of my international friends through competitions all around the world.”
The training, the philosophy, and the social aspect all contribute to making good citizens. As McHugh says, “We’re out to change the community – one black belt at a time.”