Recently, there has been a great debate as to whether or not the use of physical activity or exercise is an effective tool for behavior modification. Part of the training at Infinity Martial Arts is teaching kids the value of respect, discipline, and consequences. It is important to distinguish between the use of physical exercise as corporal punishment and the implementation of the Following Directions Incentive tool used by the martial arts instructors at Infinity Martial Arts. Today, we will take some time to explain the debate surrounding the use of physical activity as a corrective tool and effective training and discipline.

What the Research Indicates

Over the last few decades, a lot of time and research has been dedicated to discovering if physical activity is an effective behavior modification tool. Since the beginning of organized sport, exercise has been used as both reward and corporal punishment. Research does support the idea that excessive exercise, including extra sprints for losing a game, additional burpees for poor performance, and mass physical punishment has the opposite effect on morale, discipline, and behavior. When kids or teams are forced to the point of exhaustion, it can take away from the love of the game and can be destructive to team cohesion.

How Exercise Is Used as a Training Method in Martial Arts

Martial arts is a highly physical sport that requires body awareness, body control, and complete athleticism. The act of practicing martial arts moves is naturally a tough workout on its own. Physical endurance and the ability to push past one’s comfort zone and endure physical blows are critical components of a disciplined practitioner of martial arts. At Infinity Martial Arts, a great deal of time spent in the dojo is dedicated to practicing movements and engaging in physical activity.

More important than physical ability and body control is the ability for a martial arts practitioner to control their thoughts, actions, and reactions. Obedience, adherence to rules and tradition, and strict self-discipline are integral parts of advancement in the martial arts belt system. One way children can achieve the next level is by controlling their behavior and doing what is expected of them. In the dojo, we include the principles of respect and responsibility. An effective way for us to translate that into the children’s lives outside the dojo is to have parents, caretakers, and/ or teachers use the Following Directions Incentive tool. 

Some of the positive elements of using exercise as a motivator include:

  • Is a healthy outlet for anger, frustration, and energy
  • Sets clear expectations and establishes defined consequences
  • Is fair, calculable, and a consistent expectation
  • Builds confidence and cause and effect awareness
  • Holds students accountable for actions and behaviors
  • Puts students in control of their own discipline
  • Instills a positive-feedback loop

We hope this helped clear up any doubts or misconceptions about using exercise as corporal punishment and the difference between tearing down morale with physical punishment and building up confidence with exercise. If you are looking to instill some responsibility and discipline in your child, consider martial arts training. At Infinity Martial Arts, we offer martial arts training for kids of all ages, from tots to teens and everything in between. We offer anti-bullying training, self-defense classes, after school programs, summer camps, and kids’ birthday party celebrations. To get your kids started today, view our online offerings and register today!