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Teaching self-defence: The importance of values

As a parent, I want my children to be able to stand up for themselves, physically defend themselves if they need to. But I don’t want them to be starting fights, or using their skills to intimidate others. One important step towards this is discussing values.

What are values?

Values are ideals that we strive for, the qualities and actions that really matter to us, such as being kind, respectful, etc. Unlike goals, we can’t complete values. We continue to strive for them throughout our life. Values considered “good” by society are called virtues. Individuals develop their own hierarchy of values throughout childhood and adolescence[1]. To some extent values are genetically determined, but they are also largely influenced by family, friends, and society.

For 5-12 year old children, discussions are likely to centre on virtues, because children of this age are unlikely to be able to articulate a hierarchy of personal values. By 12-17 adolescents will be starting to figure out who they want to be and realising that what they value isn’t necessarily the same as what others value[2]. Discussions around values at this age are important for helping adolescents to be able to identify and articulate their own values and accept that they can be different from others.

A girl demonstrating her love of flowers, and value of nature.

Why discuss values?

An understanding of values is important, because people who behave consistently with their values tend to be happier and more fulfilled. People who take on roles that require them to behave inconsistently with their values are more prone to frustration and depression[3].

Values are also an important starting point for judging whether actions are helpful or unhelpful. Sometimes doing the wrong thing can feel good (e.g. eating sweets even though you want to be healthy), and doing the right thing can feel bad (e.g. cleaning up your room). So knowing whether actions move you towards or away from your values can be a more useful measure.

Also, research shows that values influence attitudes towards violence, and violent behaviours[4]. Specifically, people who value Universalism (equality, listening to people who are different, caring for nature), and Benevolence (caring for others, loyalty to friends) tend to be less violent, whereas people who value power (status symbols like wealth, want people to do as they say) tend to be more violent.

Values at Personal Strength

At Personal Strength, using skills responsibly is taught throughout classes, and reinforced through mat-chats. The first two mat-chats focus on values. They are not prescriptive, rather they help children and teens to explore the sort of person they want to be, and where “ninja” or self-defence skills fit into that.

References

[1] Uzefovsky, F., Döring, A. K., & Knafo‐Noam, A. (2016). Values in middle childhood: Social and genetic contributions. Social Development, 25(3), 482-502.

[2] Crocetti, E. (2018). Identity dynamics in adolescence: Processes, antecedents, and consequences. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 15(1), 11-23.

[3]Cha, S. E., Hewlin, P. F., Roberts, L. M., Buckman, B. R., Leroy, H., Steckler, E. L., … & Cooper, D. (2019). Being your true self at work: Integrating the fragmented research on authenticity in organizations. Academy of Management Annals, 13(2), 633-671.

[4] Seddig, D., & Davidov, E. (2018). Values, attitudes toward interpersonal violence, and interpersonal violent behavior. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 604.

S L
UPDATE: it's been almost 5 years since I left this review. We're still going strong! I'm still training with Tim 💪 My now 10-year-old son is still doing Ninjas classes 👍 Great local gym with a very welcoming environment. I've been training with Tim for almost 2 years and I always enjoyed his personalised approach which helped me to achieve my goals. Tim is always very encouraging and makes each training session challenging, but rewarding. Apart from training adults, Tim is excellent working with kids and my 5.5yo son is always looking forward for his next Little Ninjas classes, which he started as a 3-year-old. Kids classes are always fun, with a mix of games and various exercises teaching self-awareness and safety. I would definitely recommend FunFit to everyone.
S L
2022-05-16
Neil G
Lovely atmosphere. It’s a great place to spend time with your child. Tim and his family are some of the nicest people you could hope to meet. It’s perfect for fun - plus introduces genuine concepts of discipline to youngsters.
Neil G
2020-10-30
Karen Wakil
Fantastic mix of fitness, self-defence and life skills in a fun environment. Builds confidence, respect and strength - both physical and mental - in the children. Highly recommend!
Karen Wakil
2020-10-27
Estelle Demontrond-Box
My boy really enjoys Tim's teenagers' fitness classes: Tim is very encouraging and motivating and has a good sense of humour! The class is very energetic and fun! Highly recommend!
Estelle Demontrond-Box
2020-10-16
Edward Kim
Tim always keeps the workouts fresh and interesting and was always committed to safety. Workouts were always challenging but catered to the level you were at. Never a boring session and looked forward to them always. Great community feel and music too! Only reason I'm not going anymore is because I moved to the other side of Sydney.
Edward Kim
2020-06-03
Ruth Hawkins
Both my 4 year old girl and 6 year boy absolutely love the classes. They've done lots of other activities over the years but there's something about being a little ninja that makes them light up and they enjoy every minute of the class.
Ruth Hawkins
2020-02-04
Michael Darcy
Great classes. My daughter loves them. They're a good mix of fun, fitness, knowledge and skills. An awesome find.
Michael Darcy
2019-12-30
Pablo Lillo
Very friendly people and staff, classes are fun and engaging!
Pablo Lillo
2019-12-25
Vfr Doug
My 6 year old son has been attending Mini Ninjas for almost a year and loves it! Tim is a natural with kids, he has the right balance of humour, fun and discipline to keep the whole class motivated and engaged. As well as having a great time and a good workout, our son is gaining physical confidence, self discipline and respect for others. Having trained in different martial art clubs when I was younger, I can see Tim has all the right qualities, values and knowledge you would want to be teaching our children.
Vfr Doug
2019-10-24
Zoe Jenkins
My son joined mini ninja class as a 3 years old. He has been excited to go every week. Tim is extremely good with engaging young kids with various activities. The whole lesson is filled with kids' joy and laugh. It's also great entertainment for parents to watch on the side. I can see my son has been improving in protecting himself with all the self defence actions he learned from Tim, which is very important for kids safety.
Zoe Jenkins
2019-09-26
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