My experience as a boxing coach... for children
MY EXPERIENCE AS A BOXING COACH... FOR CHILDREN
MY EXPERIENCE AS A BOXING COACH... FOR CHILDREN
Mohammed has been a true combat sports enthusiast since his young childhood, and his list of accomplishments is impressive. Currently a coach at the Domyos Club in Marcq-en-Baroeul, he first explains his own story, then what happens in a children's boxing class, the benefits for them, and what it means to him. Finally, for parents who hesitate to sign up their children, he shares his convictions about the values and mindset that he cultivates in the young participants in this "noble art".
It all started in Morocco, when I was 4 years old. My uncle was a black belt in karate, and I wanted to be like him: all those kicks and punches were so impressive. I quickly got a taste for it and dove right in. I ended up getting my black belt too.
Nevertheless, at 10 I felt the need to try another combat sport. I discovered full contact karate, a foot-fist discipline from the United States, which at the time was completely new in Morocco. I loved it and also got a black belt.
Since I was very curious, I constantly wanted to try new combat sports. Around age 11, I discovered taekwondo, which really helped me gain flexibility as well as energy and precision. I also practised hapkido for 2 years. I discovered kickboxing around age 13, and started Muay Thaï when I was 14. My thirst for learning still has no limits, and I've been doing Sambo for the past 2 years.
Combat sports are my thing! They have been part of my life and who I am for over 35 years!
It is mostly thanks to my own coaches! When training in taekwondo and full contact karate, I helped them in the children's classes. I loved seeing children's spellbound faces. I wanted to follow my coaches' examples and I told myself that one day, I too would be a coach.
My own trainers were always what inspired me. They are truly beautiful people, heroes of mine!
As far as age goes, we're talking about children between the ages of 6 and 12. Before age 6, we can't really talk about boxing - it's early learning. After age 12, we're talking about adolescents, where the practice and exercises become more technical and they can start to compete.
The most important thing in a children's boxing class is to learn while having fun. A class should include a lot of games. It should call upon the child's imagination. Children are often overflowing with energy and imagination, so a class should channel that energy. For example, they need to touch their partner's belly, and if their partner flinches too much, there is a wall of fire behind them. Or they need to crawl on their bellies on the ground, like a soldier or a secret agent, then stand up quickly: without knowing it, the child is doing burpees! Boxing is a great way for children to get out their energy while having fun.
In our classes at the Domyos Fitness Club, we take special care to ensure that there are no real hits. Children learn boxing techniques in complete safety: touching their opponent while trying to avoid being touched, dodging, feinting, moving correctly. During classes, children are equipped with boxing gloves and shinguards for boxing safely. Boxing classes are a very good way for children to get out their energy, develop coordination, and of course, gain self-confidence. We do mixed classes at the club: girls and boys are together, and I see more and more girls signing up for boxing.
Of course! Being a children's coach is a great responsibility. A coach is also a role model, so we have to be careful of the message we give them. It's not just about learning techniques, there is also the mental side. Boxing can help children find solutions to problems or obstacles. Even if the child does not succeed at first when they try a certain activity during class, which is true of almost everyone, I teach them that they can always try again, and not to give up. The child ultimately succeeds and becomes aware of their own abilities. There is nothing better for building self-confidence than proving something to yourself!
The values of boxing are also very important to the class: respect for others, mutual support, respect for the rules and the coach, self-control, discipline, the desire to surpass your limits, the ability to get back up when you don't succeed... These are certainly useful in a boxing class, but also in daily life. The children learn that very quickly. They often come back the following week and tell me what they did since the last time. I love it! They are so proud! For me, boxing helps them to achieve their potential.
When we speak about children's boxing, we are speaking about educational boxing. It's about learning: learning the values of boxing, so that your daily behaviour is worthy of them. If you try to box without learning its values, you simply aren't boxing. It isn't called the noble art for nothing! Technically speaking, it helps the child to develop speed, endurance, flexibility, and elasticity. It introduces different boxing techniques: attack, attack preparation, defence, and blocks.
Once again, at the Domyos Fitness Club, we do not allow real blows in our children's classes, that is not at all the point of what we do. I would say that the parents should trust the coach before signing their children up, since the coach's role is essential - not only physically and technically, but also on the mindset they are helping to cultivate.
Combat sports helped me in my life in general. Boxing is exactly that: we embody its values not only during class, but outside of it as well - and as far as I'm concerned, it's for life!
PRIVILEGED INTERVIEWER AND COMBAT SPORTS ENTHUSIAST