Written by Isis Stephanie Cerda, 2nd Grade Teacher and the TaeKwondo Lead Teacher at UTES
I have mentioned before that one of the great things about being at a demonstration school is that we are encouraged as teachers to find solutions for needs as they come up. It wasn’t too long after I joined UTES that I came across one. I was attending a meeting for a student that was struggling academically in my class. The interventionists and school principal gave the parents a wide array of strategies to help this student along. Surprisingly, martial arts was one of them. I had always known that studies have shown the benefits of martial arts in terms of self-esteem and self-discipline, but I was not aware of the research that supported the benefits that martial arts has on brain functioning. I found this extremely interesting and I got to doing my own research.
So, let me give you a quick course in bio 101 in layman’s terms:
Most blocks, punches, and kicks cross the midline point of the body. Many times these movements are set opposite the body. So…What’s the big deal? Until recently we did not know that when you cross the midline you force your brain to rewire itself to compensate for the confusion in the movement. Without going into too much detail, studies have shown that the part of the frontal lobe that controls the primary motor functions of the body must produce neurons and create new pathways to deal with the movement (wow!). Long story short, the more you force your body to cross the midline plane, the more neural pathways your brain will create to handle the confusion of the movement. More pathways will translate to better defined movement, improved motor skill development and increased cognitive capacity. Essentially, it is fitness training for your brain!
Once I learned about how martial arts could help students not only with behavior but academically, I was sold. I was even more so, after talking to this particular student’s parents again. Due to work schedulels and finances they had not been able to put their child in a martial arts program. I could definitely sympathize; it is even hard for me as a parent and teacher to get my own children to practices, events, rehearsals, etc. I knew there had to be an easier way.
The initial legwork for me began this summer. Our affiliation with UT, a friendly connection with its Taekwondo Team, and a presentation at their spring banquet by yours truly set the wheels in motion. This fall, Kick 4 Kids debuted a weekly low-cost after school taekwondo program set here conveniently at our school. This year we started off with 20 students from across all grade levels and we hope to continue to expand. The feedback from teachers, parents and kids has been overwhelmingly positive. Just another way UTES forms community partnerships for the good of our students… and from the looks on those little faces-it’s been so worth it.
A Special Thank You to the University of Texas TaeKwondo Team
To Learn more about UT TaeKwondo Visit them by clicking the links below
UT TaeKwondo’s Website