“How to be Physically Superb; as a Child or an Adult”

May 2016


When most people think of child development, and particularly the development of thinking, they do not necessarily consider the importance of overall neurological (brain) development. In our classes for young children 3-5 years old, it is important to cover the basics of crawling and creeping, as well as running and jumping. This is because some children may still need work in these areas. Actually students of all ages can benefit from revisiting these movements that are fundamental to neurological development.

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In the course of a lifetime of research, brain development specialist Glen Doman has discovered that in cultures where babies are not allowed to lie face down on the floor or ground, no civilization ever develops. This is because, by spending time on their tummies, babies develop convergent vision which allows them to interpret symbols and thus develop a written language and hence a civilization. They can also work on crawling and eventually creeping, from the natural movement reflexes present at birth as long as they are on the floor.

Many baby mammals, particularly those who are preyed upon by others, learn to stand and run within a few hours of being born. As we know, with us the process takes much longer. Gently rolling, tumbling, spinning and tossing babies, in a safe manner of course, helps their young brains to develop. Having them hang on to your thumbs while you lift their hands above their heads helps to set them up for brachiating (see photo) once they are old enough and have the strength to hang from a climbing frame.

Brachiating is one of the best ways to develop respiration, increase oxygen consumption and enhance brain development. Breathing is the basis of good health and is a skill that we work to improve on in all of our classes. If you think that you know how to breathe, see if you can take just thirty slow, even, connected breaths in thirty minutes; that’s one breath per minute for a half-hour. If you cannot, you have room for improvement. Running is good too, but actually does not develop the heart and lungs as much. Brachiating is also great for developing upper body strength and coordination.

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The floors in our two Dojo both make excellent surfaces for children and adults to roll around and tumble on, as well as being ideal for other aspects of Martial Arts training. If you are the parent of a young child in our Dragons or Tigers program and you see them running, rolling, crawling or jumping in class, these are essential preliminary exercises for them, and will lead to integrated physical and neurological development. If they are to be “physically superb”, to use Glen Doman’s terminology, they must be stimulated to challenge their abilities in terms of balance, coordination, agility, flexibility and cardio, muscular, respiratory fitness. Doman also asserts that barefoot activities on a safe surface are the best for developing walking and running abilities. All in all, Karate training here at UKC is just about perfect.

© 2016 Shihan Robert H. Mason