Activities and sports like Hockey, Baseball, Soccer, Gymnastics, Girl/Boy Scouts etc... are all great hobby’s and pass time activities and I let my kids choose whatever activities they want.
I categorize swimming lessons differently; swimming is a life skill and non-negotiable in my house. Sooner or later my children will be exposed to water, (be it a pool, lake, river or ocean) and not having basic swimming skills and confidence around the water will hold them back and could be potentially fatal. They don’t need to be Olympic swimmers but they need enough basic skills to tread water and survive but ideally are competent enough that they don’t have to be nervous or fearful around water.
Now apply that same filter to martial arts. It’s a great sport, with all the benefits of traditional sports, but it also teaches self defence which is an essential life skill. In your child’s lifetime, they will almost certainly face the threat of physical violence (often unavoidably and through no fault of their own).
When you are attacked, just like in the water, it doesn’t matter how hard you try, without proper training and technique you will panic, thrash & most likely drown. We put our kids in swimming lessons to prepare them, so they can be in the water without fear and tread water if they get in over their heads. The day your child gets confronted by a bully ask yourself; have you given them the tools & confidence to stay calm, protect themselves and survive or have they been thrown in the deep end to fend for themselves?
Martial arts is a mandatory life skill. Change my mind 😉