Understanding Upstairs and Downstairs Brain in Martial Arts | Bay Area Martial Arts
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Shonnon Schey reviewed Bay Area Martial Arts
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I signed my kindergartener daughter in the six-week promotion to see if she would enjoy martial arts. I knew after her first class that this was going to be truly enriching for her, and she loves going to her classes.
I love that the classes are age specific- and you can see how the teaching styles are geared towards each age group. As explained by Sensei Adrian in our assessment- four-year-olds and seven-year-olds are capable of different things at different times. Having them in age-appropriate classes will help them succeed because they are with their peers.
The instructors are firm but fair, and are amazing with a large group of kids. They don't coddle anyone, they have the same expectations of everyone.
I'm proud of how my daughter has taken to BAMA in such a short time. She has gotten stronger and already shows more self discipline (as much as can be expected from a five-year-old)!
My husband and I are so happy that we found Bay Area Martial Arts!

Christina Chandler reviewed Bay Area Martial Arts
5
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My son just started and I already can see the difference in him. Thank you. This place is GREAT! You all should see if your child or children like it.

Leah Martin reviewed Bay Area Martial Arts
5
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My 13 year old son started at the dojo when he was 5 and my 9 year old daughter started when she was 3. Bringing them here has turned out to be one of the best decisions that my husband and I made for our children. The amount of focus and discipline that they have learned through martial arts has encompassed all parts of their lives. Both are excellent students and know how to stick up for themselves. My daughter will not think twice about being an ally for someone else. I am blown away by their self confidence. They have learned that you can succeed at anything you put your mind to with hard work and perseverance.

While learning the skills of working hard and self esteem, students get a great work out and have fun with Sifu Adrian and Sensei Ceci. They create a nurturing environment where children learn skills at their appropriate developmental stage. They have become family and I am forever grateful for all that they have done for my children.

Kelly Correll Brown reviewed Bay Area Martial Arts
5
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My 7 year old son started at Bay Area Martial Arts in January of this year. After nearly 6 months I have seen such a change in him both physically and emotionally. My son was always scared of trying new things - like riding a scooter or doing a handstand - because his balance has never been that great. Martial arts has really helped him build confidence and the physical strength to try new things. Respect for yourself, your family, and people in the wider world is something that he is learning and doing. Sensei Adrian, Nate, and Ceci have been so wonderful not just to our son, but to our whole family. They really care about these kids - not just to make them ninjas (because lets face it... what kid doesn't want to be a ninja?!?!), but about helping them be the best version of themselves that they can be. Thanks so much you guys!!!!

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Understanding Upstairs and Downstairs Brain in Martial Arts

Before we begin, I want you to remember a time one of the instructors walked a crying student off the mat. Remember the ice pack they placed on the students knee and had them count to 10? Do you remember how the student returned to class with a smile on their face?!

How about this! Have you ever been on the receiving end of a tantrum or roller coaster emotions with no idea of where it came from?

In my experience as a Martial Arts instructor I can say with certainty that the answer to this question is: Yes! Don’t worry, this is completely normal and more common than you might think (You’re not alone!). Even I have been on the end of a meltdown or two. The key to maintaining your composure  and remaining drama free is understanding!

First, let’s talk about the brain!

We are going to focus on the two main areas involved when tantrums arise. These two areas are the Upstairs Brain and the Downstairs Brain. The book “The Whole Brain Child” does a great job describing this as a two story building! All the complicated processes happen upstairs, such as decision making, planning, etc. The Downstairs Brain is where emotions and impulses are managed.

For most children, the Downstairs Brain is fully developed. Unfortunately, the Upstairs Brain is still under construction. The tantrums arise when the Downstairs Brain takes over and emotions get out of hand. The key is knowing how to respond and open the door to the upstairs brain again.

Our instructors understand this concept and have some insight they can share! These are things that help us while on the mat and can help you as well at home!

Recognize their feelings!

Knock on the door to their Upstairs Brain by asking questions like: “Wow, you must be feeling pretty upset, right?” Questions like these will begin to reconnect to the Upstairs brain. This will allow them to begin the process of understanding where they are and how to get back to a calm state.

Redirect!

As a result of the wild emotions, children experience a cortisol (stress chemical) dump. To combat this, lots of high-fives, hugs and pats on the back help to trigger the release of Oxytocin. This will help balance the chemicals in the brain and make it easier to reconnect the Upstairs Brain.

Get them moving!

We also try to get our students moving again as soon as possible! This helps trigger the release of Endorphins which help cancel out the effects of Cortisol.

Now back to the icepack story. Our instructor was prepared and understood how the Upstairs and Downstairs brain interact! He sat the student down, gave them an ice pack and asked about their feelings. They were then able to engage the Upstairs Brain by counting to 10 and agreed to return to class.

Our goal is to help every ninja become the best they can be. Understanding these key ideas is only the beginning.

To learn more about our revolutionary kids martial arts programs, click here