4 Therapeutic Martial Arts Takeaways for Improved Well-Being

Martial arts has a lot to teach about well-being, especially a hybrid style like Summit Academy Schools’ Therapeutic Martial Arts. With a focus on serving K-12 students with Autism and ADHD, Summit Academy Schools in Ohio incorporate therapeutic martial arts into their curriculum.

summit academyIn the dojo, where students learn martial arts movements and traditions, they also find focus, awareness, structure and self-confidence.  For improved well-being, Sensei Chuck Rickard, who heads Summit Academy’s Therapeutic Martial Program, shares four takeaways from Summit Academy’s program you can incorporate into your daily routine.

  1. Focus – Mindfulness represents a key component of therapeutic martial arts. Students practice thoughtful, deep breathing, helping them find focus and stress relief. They then advance to a combination of breathing and movements, coordinating inhaling and exhaling with specific motions and stances. “From a martial arts standpoint, breathing centers attention and power on movements and tempers anxiety,” says Rickard. 

Takeaway: Just breathe.

  1. Awareness and Assertiveness – Not everyone is a hugger. Therapeutic martial arts reinforces an individual’s need for personal space. At Summit Academy, students practice martial arts in designated zones. They also examine their comfort levels correlating to zones such as family zone, friend zone and stranger zone, according to Rickard. Students learn how to use assertiveness when their personal space is violated. When someone violates their comfort zone, they extend their arm forward and say “stop.” 

Takeaway:  “It’s good to know your comfort zones and it is not only OK, but critical to assert yourself when a stranger makes you feel uncomfortable.” 

summit academy

  1. Organization – Structure runs deep in Summit Academy’s therapeutic martial arts classes. For instance, students bow when they enter the dojo. They arrive prepared to practice movements and do so within a designated space. To put it simply, students learn organizational skills through therapeutic martial arts. “Structure helps us complete tasks and builds routine into our schedules,” explains Rickard. “Our students carry these strategies into their classrooms and home lives.” 

Takeaway: Structure will not only help you develop organizational skills but create a sense of calm in the process. Through structure, you can complete tasks in manageable segments without feeling  overwhelmed.

  1. Self-confidence – Therapeutic martial arts creates a non-competitive setting, one in which students are not compared with each other. Instead, therapeutic martial arts students compete with themselves, striving to improve from the day prior. “This really helps with self-esteem and confidence,” says Rickard, explaining that therapeutic martial arts encourages students to strive to meet their own goals rather than those society sets for them. “The result is a validated feeling of accomplishment.”

Takeaway: When you set a personal goal, stick with it and achieve it, you’ll give your self-confidence a boost.

Summit Academy Schools, located throughout Ohio, are tuition-free, public community schools that serve students in grades K-12 who learn differently, such as those with ADHD and Autism.  Summit Academy Schools design, develop and deliver educational opportunities in a therapeutic environment so everyone can learn.

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