When you read the word art, are you thinking about mortal combat?

A guess would be, no.

Martial arts have a softer side, an internal side that give them deep rooted philosophical stratum often not understood by non-artists. This is one of the reasons why it is an excellent idea for children to study martial arts.

Sometimes parents are mistaken and believe that allowing their kids to study martial arts will cause them to become aggressive, picking fights. In actuality, just the opposite is true. Fundamental martial arts training has a core that has a very different outcome than a parent might suspect.

Many martial artists refer to their training in two parts. Observe the ancient Chinese symbol of yin/yang which visually tells a tale of everything having an opposite, like hot and cold, earth and heavens, fire and water.

What is referred to as external martial arts is what most people are familiar with. This is the action you enjoy on the movie screen and on television. It's the sometimes violent or even deadly, hard hitting power that one can learn to use to overcome an opponent. But remember, that what you see on the screen is only what Hollywood deems glamorous.

A martial art is never, never taught only at its external, physical root. As with the yin-yang, the martial arts are surrounded by philosophical underpinnings of peace and harmony that form the internal, mental root. Specifically, internal martial arts study embraces the philosophy of Consequentialism or "right action."

All actions cause reactions or consequences. The theory of "right action" is the practice of choosing to take the highest road and thereby causing the most moral results. Because this does not always come naturally to humans, martial artists believe they must actively practice choosing the the most moral course which in turn brings the best outcome for more people.

These principles involve recognition of others while developing greater personal patience and insight. Most martial arts began in the countries of Asia where Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism is rooted. The philosophical ideals of these belief systems permeate the martial arts.

An ancient Korean proverb states, "Peace within the individual brings peace within the family; peace in the family brings peace in the community; peace in the community, peace in the country and peace throughout the world." as translated by author Doug Cook. It's easy to understand the idea that choosing the "right action" can have a phenomenal affect to not just the individual but eventually the world.

This one concept is just a small part of the philosophy that sculpts the internal root of the martial artist. Just as there are many kicks and punches, blocks and strikes to learn in the physical root, there are many more pieces to the internal structure.

Any child who is fortunate enough to study martial arts learns exacting physical motions that increase strength and flexibility while learning self defense techniques and improving confidence. But at the same time, they learn to be a better person, a better citizen of the world. They learn that because they can physically defend themselves that they no longer need to. They have learned the "right action."

Suddenly, world peace doesn't sound so far fetched.

Author's Bio: 

Kalynn Amadio is a 3rd dan black belt in tae kwon do. Before starting your kids in martial arts, see her website for more on Right Action and Kids Taekwondo classes. Tae kwon do is for the whole family.