Tina Takahashi and family

The Vital Importance of The Martial Arts School in the time of Covid-19

The Vital Importance of The Martial Arts School in the time of Covid-19  

By Sean MacFadyen, 7th Degree Black Belt


One could speak endlessly about the benefits of martial arts training, from health, fitness, and confidence, while earning a sense of accomplishment, developing strength, power and toughness, and a sharper mind and focus. This often translates on and off the mats to improved school grades and increased earning power, as well as the feeling of being able to protect oneself and one’s family.


Covid-19 swept across the world in a flash. Pushing close to a year now, much has come out regarding who is most largely affected. Mass unemployment, anxiety, and social isolation are suspected to be the main drivers for the surge of suicides across the country. Two-thirds of these deaths are among people under the age of 44. Canada has witnessed a sharp surge in this mental health tragedy and the Covid-19 Pandemic is predicted to result in between 3,235 to 8,164 excess suicides between 2020 and 2021in the United States, representing up to an 8.4 percent increase in unnecessary deaths (McIntyre and Lee,2020). According to research carried out by the CDC, a considerable number of adults suffered mental health problems associated with Covid-19 in June. However, “younger adults, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance abuse, and elevated suicidal ideation,” researchers wrote.


When the first lockdown came, Tina Takahashi Martial Arts switched to online learning. What they found was that the children were starved for interaction and the chance to see their friends even though it was only on a computer screen. We have seen many children suffering from depression, isolation and loneliness on top of feelings of guilt for fear that they could spread this illness to a grandparent or loved one. Elderly people in particular have suffered additional loneliness and neglect and even death because of not being able to see their loved ones.

Children need to interact and get back to training. We have hope that students will be able to begin living their lives to the fullest, optimizing their physical and, especially, mental well-being. It has been an isolating time. There is immediate connection and benefit that can be gained from even online sessions. One way or another, we can’t wait to see you again soon.


The Confidence to Shut Down Bullies

If you have watched the ‘80s film ‘The Karate Kid’ or its 2010 remake, there are many life lessons to be learned, key among them about firmly facing down bullies. The film charts the story of a teenager who learns to fight bullies with the help of karate. Karate and other forms of martial art can, as the film portrays, help a kid build confidence and stay prepared to handle bullies. Contrary to popular perception, learning a form of martial arts does not make a kid combative; instead practicing karate helps a kid feel strong and safe.

Role play to hone self-defense skills

Among other things, karate can teach children to anticipate trouble. Much of karate training is devoted to applying techniques in practical self-defense situations. Wwhen a kid practices karate, he or she learns to respond to aggression or a scenario of bullying in an instinctive manner. Children often develop the self-confidence to confront, deter, or subdue aggression because of the dozens or hundreds of previous times they practiced in a safe, supervised, role- playing environment.

Karate stances and positions also help instill confidence in a child in terms of body language. If a child’s body language or posture is poor, he or she is especially vulnerable to being bullied or victimized. When a person of any age has high self-esteem and self-confidence, it sends a visual message that deters bullies or would-be assailants. Aggressors typically choose a vulnerable person to threaten or force into conflict and submission. Mankind shares with animals a primal instinct to sense fear. Kids must be taught to behave fearlessly and exude confidence in their actions. Karate accomplishes these goals effortlessly, and the rewards of a safer, more secure child is self-evident.

Boost communication skills

Karate not only helps a all practitioners physically, it also helps in other skills such as communication and interpersonal skills. Karate teaches children how to build a rapport and communicate calmly, thoughtfully, and clearly. Kids learn to defuse and de-escalate bullying situations with humor, or firm tone and volume when needed. Karate helps build mental fortitude, teaching children how to stay focused and composed for longer time periods. It helps develop a body posture that is straight, eyes and mind focused, and feet on solid ground – until the moment those feet are required to not be in self-defense! Karate also helps children learn breathing techniques that aid as coping skills and improve relaxation, stretching, and proficiency in the execution of many martial arts moves.

Many karate schools conduct special anti-bullying programs that focus on self-defense and body language. Bullying is a serious problem in American schools, the source of many crimes of passion and suicides. A 2013 study of 200,000 children between third and 12th grades indicated 39 percent were bullied regularly. The number has only increased as technology has proliferated in the mainstream. In the face of such a serious problem, learning a form of martial arts such as karate will surely help in a multitude of ways.