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Overcoming Fears of Sparring Pt 2: 5 Ways to Talk to Your Child About Sparing

Kids Martial Arts in Medford - Xtreme Ninja Martial Arts Center

From developing traits such as confidence, respect and humility all while having a good time, sparing offers many benefits. 

So you have read our previous post elaborating on this and are ready to buy the mouthguard and gear, but your little one is less enthused. What do you do? 

Whether your child has just started lessons or is still thinking about it, here are 5 ways to help your child feel better about sparring. 

1: Remind your child that everyone needs to start somewhere 

If your child sees red belts spar and wants to jump on the mat expecting to preform just like them, or is afraid of the higher level students’s speed and technique, it can be a good lesson to explain how even those kids started at the same level of white belt your child will be. It can help your children set realistic expectations and overcome disappointment, as well as helping your child feel less embarrassed starting out. Tip: use the higher belt students as role models for your child!

2: Talk about how fun sparring can be 

Sparring gives many lessons, but it is also quite fun! Sparring is fast paced and can be seen like a game of tag. Can you tap the person before they tap you? From my own experience, it is an exhilarating feeling whenever I land a technique that I just learned. You could describe it like a video game where one works on tricks to gain new “abilities” that they can then use in real life. 

3: Take the lesson home 

If your family has not begun sparring yet and still on the fence, we suggest you watch a class and pay attention to the lessons the instruction gives. The instructor will almost always explain how an element of sparring can be applied to achievement outside of the dojo, and here is a good place to tie in your child’s personal goals in with that day’s lesson. Does your child wish they they could have more friends? If the lesson was about confidence, you could tell your child that sparring could help them gain the courage to walk up to new kids and say hi to help motivate them.

4: Tease out root concerns your child may have and address them from there 


I remember when I first started sparring, I would have a lot hidden fears that would make me unhappy during sparring. For me, it was the fear of failure and embarrassment. I knew I was going to make obvious mistakes, but I was afraid people would judge me and that frankly, I would judge myself. By continuing sparring I saw that everyone makes mistakes and like I said before, higher belts have made those same mistakes before and understand. 

Think about what underlining worries that lead you hear a “I don’t want to do it” from your child. Once you have that, you can ask Ninja or another instructor and they will be more than happy to help your family work through any concern. It is their goal as teachers to see their students overcome fears that may hold them back.

5: Try sparing yourself! 

And last but not least, you could always take sparring lessons, either along with your children during the Tuesday/Thursday 7pm karate class or on your own during the more frequent adult Muay Thai classes. 

Either way, you will be better able to understand and talk about the experiences and emotions that happen during sparring. You could be a role model, and your family could have another thing to bond over. And you can even reap the many benefits of sparring for yourself! Life is a never-ending journey of learning, so it is never too late to start.

Good Luck! 

Photos and blog by E-tak M



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