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How self-defence classes can help your child

PUBLISHED: 11:07 25 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:31 25 April 2019

Self-defence classes such as Krav Maga are fun after school activities for children

Self-defence classes such as Krav Maga are fun after school activities for children

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Defence classes for children such as Krav Maga are fun, healthy activities that can reduce the risk of bullying, build self-confidence and teach discipline

Synergy Fitness's martial arts and Krav Maga programme is led by Ricky Manetta, who teaches anti-bullying classes to childrenSynergy Fitness's martial arts and Krav Maga programme is led by Ricky Manetta, who teaches anti-bullying classes to children

There's no denying children are growing up in different times to those of their parents. While bullying still remains an issue for many young people, crime rates are high and safety on the streets is not what it used to be. Technology means today's youngsters are less active than children a generation ago. If you're looking for fun after school activities that get your child on their feet, martial art and self-defence classes are ideal for building self confidence and teach children important life skills. Andrew Harvey, owner of Synergy Fitness, explains why children should learn self-defence.

Firstly, what are self-defence classes?

Self-defence and martial arts are often used interchangeably. All martial arts contain elements of self-defence; however, some styles, such as Brazilian ju-jitsu and boxing, are competitive sports as well. Krav Maga on the other hand, was designed specifically for self-defence. Created by the Israeli army, Krav Maga takes the best defensive moves and techniques of mixed martial arts, boxing, Thai boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and combines them to make a style of self-defence that is based in martial arts.

Self-defence classes for children build confidence and teach disciplineSelf-defence classes for children build confidence and teach discipline

Building confidence and discipline

Self-defence is important for children to learn because it is unique in the way it builds self-confidence in young people. Classes like Krav Maga teach youngsters how to spot a situation and avoid it, as well how to deal with a physical confrontation as the last resort. It gives them the confidence to worry less about what other people can do to them, while building up their physical strength, agility and fitness. Self-defence classes also teach youngsters discipline because it trains them to listen to adults. This includes parents and teachers, which has a positive effect on them going through school.

Synergy Fitness offer family self-defence classes where parents can train with their childrenSynergy Fitness offer family self-defence classes where parents can train with their children

Bullying

Quite a few parents bring their children to self-defence classes after instances of bullying, and generally, once a child is mildly proficient in martial arts they get left alone. This is due to the sense of assertiveness that is developed in addition to the learnt physical skills; youngsters begin to carry themselves differently and are less likely to be marked out as targets for bullying.

Children are also unlikely to become bullies themselves if they take up self-defence classes. At Synergy Fitness, all instructors are experienced and can recognise if a child has bullying tendencies and can train it out of them. Ricky Manetta, who heads the martial arts and Krav Maga programme at Synergy Fitness, runs anti-bullying classes in schools world-wide, including London and Essex.

Synergy Fitness offers gym discounts for parents so they can work out while their child takes self-defence classesSynergy Fitness offers gym discounts for parents so they can work out while their child takes self-defence classes

Exercise for children

If you're concerned about the amount of physical activities your child is getting at school and socially, self-defence classes are a fun, physical activity that also gives your child a new set of friends outside school.

Many children who start self-defence classes when they are four or five years old get into more mainstream sports like rugby or swimming by the time they are eight or nine-years old because they are physically fit and healthy (often more so than their peers), which also impacts positively on their mental health.

Is self defence dangerous?

Self-defence isn't assault or a crime because students are taught only to use their skills if necessary. Synergy Fitness even have a couple of local policemen as martial art instructors. At Synergy Fitness, self-defence classes are supervised, and so children can let off steam and have fun after school in a safe, protected environment.

Children under the age of eight, learn Brazilian ju-jitsu because it has less contact than other martial arts and Krav Maga, but participants still get to spend their energy and are taught defensive moves.

Only when children are a little bit older are they allowed to try out the self-defence styles that involve more contact. This is because children need to be mature enough to know when to use their skills and assess the situation.

Synergy Fitness

Based in Barkingside, Synergy Fitness offers Krav Maga, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing, Thai boxing and wing chun lessons to children, as well as running school holiday martial arts programmes. Children eight years old and over can try a class of each style for free and then choose which martial art they like best. Family classes are run on Saturdays, where parents can train with their children or family members with dedicated teachers for both children and adults.

The gym offers membership discounts to parents so that they can workout at the gym while their child trains, or they can sit at the on-site café if they prefer. Synergy Fitness also has crèche and nursery facilities.

Synergy Fitness open Monday to Friday 6.30am to 10pm, Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays 8am to 6pm. Lake Forest House, Barkingside, IG6 3HJ; synergy-fitness.net; 020 8114 2222.

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