KNS student punching glove attached to pool noodle

A fun exercise regimen is an important part of childhood, but for kids with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it can be hard to participate or play with others. Children with these conditions often have a difficult time with coordination, social skills, or following the rules, all of which make participation in team sports successful.

Martial arts, like karate, taekwondo, and judo, are a great alternative for kids with ADD/ADHD who are struggling with the team environment. Martial arts’ focus on the individual and their growth is one of the great benefits, but there are many more!

How Does Martial Arts Help With ADD and ADHD?

Kids with ADHD overflow with energy and the problems arise when they can’t channel that energy properly. Martial arts help them by working with their strengths rather than demanding they bottle them up. This can give them confidence and skills they need to succeed in other areas, whether it be in class, doing homework, or helping around the house.

Many studies also reveal that physical activity, like martial arts, help children with ADD or ADHD by helping them practice their self-control and working memory; this strengthens the neural circuit in the brain, improving their thinking skills. It also helps them improve their coordination, and gets them the exercise they need to stay healthy!

What Benefits Will You See With Martial Arts Help?

Martial arts don’t just give a good workout, though – kids of all kinds leave martial arts classes with many important life lessons, and it’s especially true for those with ADD or ADHD:

  • They’ll Learn Structure: Martial arts give children guidance and direction, helping them channel their energy in a disciplined way. Children with ADD or ADHD might still find themselves distracted, but in these instances, we use the “ready stance”, where at the instructor’s command, students have to stand with their feet shoulder-width apart, their toes facing inward, and their knees tense. It’s a simple instruction designed to snap everyone to attention!
  • They’ll Use Their Energy Safely: The teachings are geared towards children constantly in motion, with short instructions and demonstrations used to keep everyone moving. Martial arts classes also always use signs and demonstrations that involve all the senses – auditory, visual, and physical directions are all important to every lesson, from beginner to advanced. This means they’ll be using all their senses at every lesson.
  • They’ll Achieve Real Goals: It can be hard to complete activities with conditions like ADHD. In the gradual learning environment of a martial arts gym, the routines are broken down and repeated, giving children space and routine they’ll need to work and improve. Once they reach a new skill level, they’ll receive a new coloured belt, a constant reminder of their win!
  • They’ll Build Confidence: Because it focuses on the individual, martial arts allow children to work at their own pace, helping them achieve actual goals without feeling left behind. For children with ADD/ADHD, this can especially help boost confidence when they feel excluded or unable to keep up in a team environment.


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