Martial Arts- are they too violent to practice?


My 16 yr old son has a girlfriend (his first, x 2 mos.) who is a black belt in karate. She gave him a 8 lesson pass to the place she goes to. I told him that he could do the 8 weeks and I would make a decision as to whether or not he could continue (based on what I saw at the classes and cost).

Well, the first class had her little brother, 10, and boys younger and sparring, I guess you call it. They wore chest protectors, pads on their feet and face cages like baseball catchers. They did one on one fighting and punches and kicks were thrown to all parts of the body, including the head and private area.

What I saw was, IMHO, quite violent. I know, (my son has told me) that it teaches self-dicipline, self-confidence, blah, blah, blah, but is this really going to make my son remember to feed the dog? Or feel better about himself only because he feels he can kick someone’s butt?

His girlfriend is very petite, and she has mentioned a couple of times, where she has been in situations where boys have either almost jumped her, but they ran away, or a boy wanted to fight her after school, but he chickened out. I am sensing the martial arts may cause someone to be a more bold in a situation than they normally would be. I am sure not everyone would.

So, I don’t get the point. I have lived many, many years, as all my friiends and family, without the need for self-defense. Is letting my son engage in these lessons, just letting him engage in violent “playtime” regardless of whether or not he ever “needs” it? I don’t think it teaches peace, and the attitude of just walking away from a situation. It may not provoke it, but how many times has a person who knows any martial art really ever used it?:shrug: **


It is inaccurate to look upon martial arts only as a means of fighting with someone else. Any sensei worth his salt takes the casual resort to violence by any of his students extremely seriously. My own threatened that should he hear of any of his students using their skills unjustified, that they would have to go three rounds on the mat with him. It was a frightening prospect.

My own son is in the process of taking martial arts as well. The training teaches excellence in everything. Perhaps even as regards feeding the dog.


I’m a karate student now, and it really DOES teach you self discipline and self control. It has completely shot up my self esteem, made me healthier, stronger and being a girl and living in this day and age, self defense is a good thing to know. Sad but very true. All I know, is in karate, we learn that we DO NOT resort to violence unless it’s completely warranted (IE someone is attacking with the intent to seriously harm you) because we know that we could potentially harm someone very much. It does teach you to be peaceful actually. Because of the whole not resorting to violence thing. Respect is key in martial arts. We learn to respect each other, our sensei, parents and other authority figures.

To warn you, there are some martial art places that are called “McDojos” by the rest of the martial arts world. Meaning they are places that do not stress excellence, and only care about a profit. Their prices are sky high (My school only costs about 109 a month, a very fair price) They push students through the ranks too quickly (IE the whole “black belt in a year” nonsense) They don’t care if you get hurt, because you haven’t really learned anything. You need to look carefully for a good school. But seriously once you find one, it can be really amazing and life affirming. It teaches you how to work towards a goal. When you move ahead and recieve your next belt, you know that you are working towards something, and you feel so good about yourself. So no, you aren’t only feeling good about yourself because you have learned to kick someone’s butt. You feel good about yourself because you have set your mind to something and are seeing it accomplished. You see yourself growing stronger, and remembering and doing things that you would never think you could do before. Seriously, every day after I exit the dojo, I feel amazing about myself. I’m like “Man! I never knew I could kick that high before!!”

I mean, it’s up to you if you want to keep your son in this class, but I’m just telling you my own experiences from someone who is in a karate class and is absolutely loving it. Also, some classes are more violent than others, but sparring is seriously so much fun. Grin okay, I’ll stop rambling now.


My Karate instructor always taught us to fight only as a last resort. But, if you ultimately need to fight, you need the skills to defend yourself, so yes while at the dojo, you will see the students sparring and practicing their skills. The important thing to look at is how each student carries him or herself while not in the dojo.


REALLY well said RichT!!! What belt are you?


Nope. Martial Arts is about discipline, self defense and respect.

MMA, otherwise known as Mixed Martial Arts, is the worlds fastest growing sport, in relation to popularity.

MMA is the purest form of competition, in that two men square off and the best man is victorious. MMA by the way, is safer than boxing.

Take a look at George “Rush” St.Pierre. Current Welterweight Champion of the UFC…he is role model material for young boys.

I don’t think kids should get into MMA until they are in their teens…stick to traditional martial arts and then work your way up.


All of my boys took martial arts for many years, each earning a black stripe before other committments became too much of a time conflict (and driving distance changed - their beloved sensei whom they learned from beginning at ages 3-5, moved too far away, and the commute was too much - we tried it for a year before quitting).

They still know the moves, all these years later. It’s not about being “violent”, but about having the self confidence to know that if that if it ever comes down to that as a** last resort**, they COULD lay someone out to protect themselves. They never have to “prove” anything, because they KNOW what they are capable of.

My boys know never to start a fight, but if someone else picks on them and starts one, my boys WILL finish it and have the training to do so. Thankfully, it has never come to that.


but how many times has a person who knows any martial art really ever used it?

I’ve only been in one fight, but knowing martial arts was a big help. It not only saved me from injury, it also allowed me to save my friends from having their heads smashed in with beer bottles. So I’ve only used Martial Arts once in twenty years.

On the other hand, I use other skills I learned in martial arts frequently. For example, my grandmother walked into a glass door and fell down a flight of stairs. I caught her in mid-fall without injury – thanks to martial arts. And whenever I fall, I always roll and land on my feet.

I’m a new Papa (daughter 2yr, son 10mo ) and I started my kids on martial arts before they could walk, and I’m very proud that they know how to land safely. My daughter is great at her breakfalls so she never hurts herself or cries.

That said, I agree with your gut reaction. That Dojo sounds savage! Although armored playfighting is fun, personaly I’d steer my kids away from rough housing and towards a more structured approach. I’d also direct them to something with more joint locks and throws since that’s a useful halfway point between peace and deadly assault.

Anyway, the best criteria for judging a Sensai is his or her students. If this Dojo is churning out responsible trash-taker-outers, sign up your kid ASAP! :thumbsup:


My RCIA sponsor (a Brother) is a martial artist. Nuff said? :smiley:


Martial arts is about self defence, confidence and control. Sparring is a natural way to sharpen your defence. After you get tagged a couple of times, you will learn to get out of the way. Sparring also will teach you to look for an opening in your opponent’s defence, allowing you to end a match quickly.

Sparring, through repetition, gives you confidence that you can stand up for yourself. Further, it teaches you control in your punches and kicks through practice. You don’t have to hurt someone to stop them, but if they present a real imminent danger, you can learn to control your opponent.

I would recommend the martial arts to anyone.


Our 3 kids (2 girls, 1 boy) are black belts. We were lucky enough to have a wonderful, Catholic instructor who brought his faith to work with him :thumbsup: .

Other than sparring, did something at the school bother you?


No, nothing but the sparring. I am sitting on the fence here. I hear that it is only used as a last resort, it is great for disipline, but I am uncomfortable with the act of kicking and punching someone a couple times a week. So, a person may never actually use it on the street, but they still use it to some extent every time they practice.

When talking about the violent nature of sparring, my son said “You let me watch LOTR, and that’s violent.” My reply was, “yes, but you’ve never fought an Orc in our living room!”:wink:

I will be sure to watch out for any Eastern religion teaching at his free lessons, for sure!


IMHO, boys especially, need that physical outlet. Women shrink from the idea, but guys love and need it. (I’m not implying girls don’t, but I think boys need it more) Especially if your son is 16, that regular work out could help raging hormones.


The good Lord only knows how much they are raging! I am trying to keep a lid on that simmering pot!!:wink: **


I’d say the best thing to do is talk to your kids’ martial arts instructor, and talk to the older kids and adults who have been going to the club for years.

Ideally, martial arts teaches self-confidence, self-discipline, and all the other good things that other posters here have said.

However, there are some martial arts teachers who don’t teach this, and I believe there are some systems that make it easier for immoral and arrogant people to rise through the ranks. Don’t forget that most of the mainstream Japanese arts were developed in their present form during the early 20th century neo-Fascist period in Japanese history that preceded World War 2, and as such the importance of drill, conformity, obedience, fearlessness, can be over-played. Most Western martial arts instructors don’t work that way anymore, but those elements are still present in some places.

Just ask yourself, ‘would I want my son to become like these men?’

Forget the fighting element, and especially forget about self defence (if attacked on the street, a good runner has a better chance of not being hurt than a black-belt in karate!) When the kids are practice fighting, or fighting in a competition, don’t look at the kids on the mat, look at the parents, the instructors, the other kids. If they are looking on respectfully, trying to learn technique, great, if they’re baiting and screaming, and cheering when someone gets hit hard, there should be alarm bells.

I’m just exercising a note of caution, giving you one or two little things to look for. There are bad eggs in martial arts, just as there are bad eggs among football coaches or school teachers. The vast majority though will do all the good things these other posters have talked about, so don’t worry.


I heard Father Phillip Chavez speak earlier this year at a men’s conference. He talked about how men have lost their masculinity. They need to be allowed to be men, starting with childhood. Martial Arts may not be the answer for you, but he suggest that we let boys be boys. Allowing them to do this will help them to be better Leaders, Protectors. and Providers. Just a thought, but I wouldn’t keep the lid on too tight.

Here is a link to Father Phillip’s website. Click here.


Martial arts are just that, a form of artistic excercise than any practical means of self defense. As one poster put it, having the ability to run fast is much more useful in the real world.


Yes, Martial Arts does have many artistic attributes, especially when practicing Katas, or Forms. But any good instructor will teach and require serious practice of self-defense skills. You can’t run from everything, and I don’t think we should teach our children to run either. As I said in my first post in this thread, my instructor always taught us to fight only as a last resort. We were also punished if we crossed certain lines while sparring, like hitting in the face. Things like this were never tolerated.


I know you’re probably joking, but if you keep the lid on, the pot will boil over.

Martial arts can be a great physical outlet.


Speak for your own classes. Mine focus more on the ‘‘martial’’ than the ‘‘art’’.

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