Martial arts positively impact growing children as it instills confidence, discipline and helps build strength. So, it’s no surprise that many parents look to enroll their children in martial arts classes.
What’s more, you can sign your child up for martial arts at an early age.
A study by The Sport Journal showed that martial arts develop the strength, coordination, flexibility, motor, and listening skills of children as young as three years.
But, what is the best martial art for a child to learn? This article tries to help you find the best martial arts you can choose for your child. We’ll also look at the pros and cons of each.
Table of Contents
- How To Pick The Right Martial Art For Your Kid?
- What’s a Good Age to Start Martial Arts?
- The Best Martial Arts for a Child to Learn
- 1. Karate
- 2. Taekwondo
- 3. Wrestling
- 4. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- 5. Krav Maga
- 6. MMA
- 7. Muay Thai
- 8. Judo
- 9. Boxing
- What Is The Best Martial Art For A Child To Learn – Final Thoughts
- Best Martial Art For A Child FAQ
How To Pick The Right Martial Art For Your Kid?
Certain factors can aid your search process. Here are a few:
INSTRUCTOR TO STUDENT RATIO
One instructor to ten students is an ideal ratio for a martial art school. This proportion ensures that your child has excellent attention and room to grow.
The more students an instructor has, the less time he will have to work one on one with your child.
Your child’s training must be in tandem with their age. Choose a martial art with a comprehensive curriculum that focuses on mental development as well as physical growth.
You don’t want your child to be overtraining using muscles it hasn’t developed yet.
INSTRUCTOR BACKGROUND & QUALIFICATIONS
Are the instructors certified to teach? Are they experienced? What is the teacher’s martial arts background? How long have they taught martial arts?
Visit the school to observe classes. Answering this will give you a sense of the atmosphere and your child’s comfort level.
RISK OF INJURY
Make sure the training facility and instructor are experienced and safe. Avoid martial arts schools that do not have insurance coverage.
If the school does not have insurance, it is most likely a high-risk environment for injury and harm to students or instructors. Be wary of schools that have only recently opened.
FREE TRIAL LESSONS
Free trial lessons and introductory classes are another way to assess martial arts. These introductory lessons help predict your child’s strengths and weaknesses and align them to a particular combat sport.
What’s a Good Age to Start Martial Arts?
The consensus on a good martial art starting age is six years since the child is primed for learning and has already picked up some fundamental skills to aid training.
Now, let’s look at some benefits and downsides to starting martial arts at three, five, and ten years old.
Three Years Old
For three-year-old children, martial arts aid in physiology development as they learn basic movements and breathing techniques.
The downside is the fragility of the child. They can easily get hurt due to the weekly training sessions and the plain physicality of martial arts.
Five Years Old
Martial arts is a confidence booster for children in this age group as they learn to draw strength within themselves.
However, kids this age may overestimate their physical power and fighting abilities. This could lead children to become embroiled in potentially harmful confrontations.
Ten Years Old
Children develop a sense of morality from training and learn how to apply it in their lives. For instance, they learn to respect their mates and not begin fights amongst themselves, just as in a martial art class.
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The Best Martial Arts for a Child to Learn
Now, let’s dig deep into the best martial arts your children can learn.
Karate is rooted in weaponless self-defense, which isn’t surprising as it originated when weapons were banned in Japan.
If you’re looking to teach your child some self-defense, Karate is a good option. But Karate goes beyond defense, as it also touches on spiritual growth.
Traditional Karate believes that one’s self is the enemy, so it focuses on developing the spiritual self by teaching self-control, patience, and discipline.
- It builds up leadership skills since it uses a ranking system in the form of belts.
- Provides a good confidence boost for children.
- Kata or form training is good to develop coordination skills.
- Most karate schools don’t focus much attention on methods to submit an opponent.
- Doesn’t often give room for light sparring.
- Bound to introduce specific injuries to the child due to its physicality.
Taekwondo is designed on a system of symmetrical body exercises that trains the body in self-defense and counterattack in cases of unarmed combat.
Taekwondo is a kick-based martial art that teaches perfect kicks without unnecessarily striking the opponent with the hand.
- Improves the child’s lower body mobility and flexibility due to emphasis on legwork.
- Develops the child’s morals as it teaches respect for others, restraint, and self-discipline.
- Improves the child’s striking and kicking control, resulting in a greater body harmony.
- It can cause sprains, cuts, and bruises.
- It takes a long time to master.
- It might neglect upper body techniques.
Wrestling is a combat sport that is based fundamentally on grappling tactics.
If you’re in search of a non-striking martial art (which is hard to find) for your child, wrestling is your best bet.
You’ll find that wrestling is one of the most physically and intellectually demanding types of martial arts, so your children will acquire excellent core strength and cardio, as well as perseverance and confidence.
- Develops fundamental athletic skills.
- Instills discipline and boosts self-confidence.
- Builds team spirit and camaraderie among participants.
- Athletes are more liable to fractures, sprains, and concussions.
- Children can develop cauliflower ears without head gear.
- There’s no striking training.
4. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best and safest martial arts your kids can enroll in. “Jiu-Jitsu” originates from the Japanese word “Jū,” which means “gentle,” and “Jutsu,” which means “art.” So that’s why this training is referred to as the “gentle art.”
In Jiu-Jitsu, you’re taught to defend yourself through position, distance control, submissions, and leverage by using the right amount of force. Dominance is vital in this art as you’d have to beat your opponent to win.
- It teaches how to defend against larger people.
- Equips children with power, balance, flexibility, and perseverance.
- Improves problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
- It can cause broken fingers and twisted arms.
- Can lead to knee and lower back injuries.
- It might be hard to find in rural areas.
5. Krav Maga
Krav Maga is a self-defense system for teaching military members in hand-to-hand combat.
It teaches lessons about dedication, responsibility, and grace under duress. Your children may apply what they learn in these programs to all facets of their everyday lives, from fending off bullies to completing homework.
- Develops crucial personality attributes.
- Provides your child with a sense of fulfillment.
- Teaches children to distinguish between self-defense and fighting.
- Lacks competition.
- Lacks focus as it does not hone any skill to make it helpful in fighting.
- Practitioners are injury-prone due to its physicality.
Mixed martial arts, or MMA, is a fighting sport in which two contestants use three primary strategies to gain dominance: striking, submissions, and ground control.
MMA is designed for versatility and dynamism, which helps children develop their motor skills and bodies.
- Builds positive psychology in children.
- Results in the release of dopamine, which aids with mood regulation, as it’s cathartic.
- Improves focus as you must pay close attention to your opponent and consider how you may exploit their skills and movements to your advantage.
- Practitioners are prone to brain damage from excessive punching and kicking.
- High risks of lacerations.
- Bruises and concussions may occur.
7. Muay Thai
Muay Thai is a full-contact martial art known as the “art of eight limbs” because of its heavy reliance on fists, elbows, knees, and shins.
Thai Boxing educates kids to put in the effort necessary to attain their objectives, just like adult fighters must when training for a battle.
- Teaches children to set goals in life.
- Places a high value on mindfulness, respect, and harmony.
- It keeps children engaged in physical activity while boosting concentration and coordination.
- Teaches actual fighting and not self-defense which can send the wrong message to a child.
- Athletes are prone to leg injuries.
- Extremely draining, which can leave kids too tired for other activities.
Judo is a dynamic fighting sport that calls for both physical prowess and mental fortitude.
It’s an excellent activity for children since it helps them develop healthy, strong muscles while improving their cardio and lowering their cholesterol.
- It offers a lower chance of childhood obesity, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
- Provides a place to release pent-up energy while simultaneously avoiding violent conduct.
- Nurtures self-respect, respect for others, including opponents, and respect for one’s master.
- More focus on takedowns, neglecting other areas.
- Lacks an actual self-defense curriculum.
- Limited techniques compared to other martial art forms like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Boxing is a combat sport in which two people fight with their fists. Traditionally, boxing has been referred to as “pugilism,” which means “fist battle.”
Boxing is an excellent method for your kids to be active while giving them something to do after school.
- Enables children to set goals for themselves.
- It puts children’s mental strength to the test as it’s physically demanding.
- Improves children’s footwork, awareness, and speed.
- Significant risk of head injury.
- It can cause sprains and bruises.
- Practitioners are prone to broken jawbones and fingers.
What Is The Best Martial Art For A Child To Learn – Final Thoughts
We hope that we’ve provided you with an excellent guide to help you reach your choice, as choosing the best martial art that fits your child can be exhausting, especially with all the options out there.
It’s also worth mentioning that there isn’t one “perfect” martial art, so it’s best if your child explores many options until finding their fit.
Best Martial Art For A Child FAQ
Having discussed different types of martial arts for kids, let’s walk through some commonly asked questions on martial arts.
WHAT IS THE BEST SELF-DEFENSE CLASS FOR KIDS?
Krav Maga is the best self-defense class for kids. It teaches them valuable self-preservation skills like situational awareness, distance management, and self-control with a limited risk of injury.
SHOULD I PUT MY KID IN MARTIAL ARTS?
Yes, your kids will not only improve their strength through martial arts, but they’ll also learn how to lead, protect themselves, and boost their confidence.
IS KARATE OR BJJ BETTER FOR KIDS?
BJJ is better than Karate because kids get to learn different grappling techniques with less injury risk.