Nowadays, the preservatives and additives in foods, especially microwave meals and processed products give rise to toxins that stay in the body for weeks, months and even years in some cases. Meats are pumped full of water, pink dyes (to make them appear more appetising) and gum. Just fry a slice of bacon and it will be half the size it was in the packet, possibly even less than that.

With every generation the nutritional value of food decreases. Fluoride and aspartame make us more docile and affect critical thinking skills. Look any of this up and you will realise the horrific truth for yourself. You won’t be told the extent to which we are poisoned in mainstream papers, because in most cases the same global conglomerates that own the media also own the major food companies and the banks that finance them. It is therefore increasingly difficult to achieve a balanced, healthy diet. Due to the ever-decreasing nutritional value of foods, you may have a full stomach yet still be technically starving, because your body is not getting what it needs. To make matters worse, with decreased wages comes increased hours of work and therefore significantly less time to exercise not to mention less motivation to do so. This all paints a very bleak picture if we don’t take action. The good news is that we most certainly can.

It is up to us to instil in our children an understanding of health and nutrition. It is also up to us to instil in our children the attribute of self-motivation. When we understand the problem, we can work on the solution and that means taking responsibility. When it comes to developing discipline, fitness, flexibility, determination and self-motivation martial arts are amongst the best options. I am indebted to boxing on all of these counts and because I started training at the age of 13, I can eat what I want and still remain toned to a certain degree, even when I leave off the gym for weeks on end. The earlier you start, the more conditioned your body will become through critical growth periods. Avoid heavy weights and vertical lifts which compress the spine before 18 though as this will stunt proper growth. All said and done, I think it is a great idea to get children involved in martial arts from a young age and that it is equally as important to teach them the attitude to compliment such a path i.e. one of healthy competition and respect for others; not one of violence and self-promotion / ego.

Obviously there are safety concerns in all martial arts, which is often the most significant “off-put” for most parents. I am sure your children are the most precious thing you have in this world, but there are established safety measures for their protection, for example head guards when it comes to boxing and kickboxing.

Gum shields / mouth guards are also a must in the abovementioned sports. Even if boxing and kickboxing do not appeal to your child, there are less impact damage intensive martial arts out there too, for example jiu-jitsu, wrestling and MMA. If you want to encourage your child to increase his or her fitness, you could invest in some punch pads and work on it from home in order to build confidence and a base level of cardiovascular performance. Make sure you learn how to use the pads beforehand however, otherwise you risk ingraining bad punching habits into your student.

Training pads (sometimes referred to as focus pads) help to develop punching ability. These help primarily with accuracy, but they can massively increase your level of fitness if you have a demon of a coach. I remember the infamous "100 straights" to finish off. What a killer workout!