kids of different ages in karate pose

What Age Should Kids Start Martial Arts?

Martial arts is a contact sport, and many children start contact sports at an early age. Children have a lot of energy, and physical activities such as sports and martial arts are great for tiring them out. So, today I will explain what age kids should start training martial arts.

In general, 6 years old is the best age to start martial arts. Most martial arts academies only have a few instructors and many students. So, they can’t tell each student individually what to do. Children younger than that typically can’t follow instructions such as lining up and performing moves. 

Interestingly, there are a few reasons why starting martial arts at an earlier age is better, apart from the fact that a child will have a headstart on people who start when they’re older. Below, I will cover what these are.

Why Kids Should Start Martial Arts After the Age of 5 to 6

The main reasons that children should start martial arts after 6 are:

  • They can begin competing earlier – which is good
  • They are able to follow instructions

Starting to compete at an earlier age is much better

Competing in martial arts is very good for developing skills in martial arts. At the end of the day, a martial art is for protecting oneself and self-defense. Competing brings out more in a student. The reason is there is a lot of pressure because the other person also wants to win.

The other person also is working collaboratively, like they do when training with friends at an academy. Many experienced martial arts have commented that people who compete are far different from those who do not. 

Competing is very scary, and children who haven’t yet competed can find it difficult especially the first time. They can have trouble sleeping the night before, or begin crying when they need to compete.

 Children under the age of 10 to 11, typically can’t hurt themselves when they compete, which makes it a lot less scary. And children are much happier about competing.

Children younger than 5 or 6 can’t do all of the moves

Some children are naturally talented in moving and playing. But, before the age of 5 to 6 most, children don’t have skills developed in running, jumping, and using their hands and feet. Therefore, they can’t do all of the moves taught in a martial arts class.

While martial arts gyms do cater to children that need more time to develop their motor skills. For your child, you may decide to give them a bit more time and engage in a wide range of activities until they have developed more motor skills.

Kids under 6 typically can’t be trained individually

In all martial arts classes, you will have an instructor or a few instructors. They will give instructions for each of the different parts of the class, such as the warm-up, and drills. Typically, classes are quite large and so there are a lot of students compared to the number of instructors. 

For this reason, kids need to be at an age where they can follow instructions from the instructors. Otherwise, it can somewhat disrupt the class, and it can be a bit confusing for your child.

It’s better to get the benefits from martial arts sooner

Martial arts are very good for a child’s behavioral development. The reason is it exerts them physically. When children are exhausted physically they are a lot calmer. 

Studies have shown that martial arts increase self-discipline and psychological well-being. I began training karate when I was about 6 years old, and my father remarked that I was much more humble and disciplined.

It also helps to calm children who have bullying tendencies because they learn that there are people who will stand up to them and that there are people who can win against them in a physical fight. Some martial arts academies teach kids about bullying, and how to deal with bullying too, which will make them much more confident, and at ease.

What’s the Youngest Age To Start Martial Arts

At a young age, kids can’t walk, run, and play as well as older kids. Martial arts can also be very physically demanding and require a bit of mental toughness. So, here’s the youngest age that kids should start martial arts.

As a general rule, the youngest age a person can start martial arts is 6 years old. But, this is if they’re training at a martial arts academy. Before that age, kids typically can’t follow instructions and are easily distracted which makes it very difficult to participate in a martial arts class.

If a parent is a martial arts instructor or also trains in martial arts they can begin very basic movements even earlier. Children learn new skills very fast, and developing coordination, and balance can be done from a very early age.

Is Martial Arts Good for Toddlers

Toddlers don’t have the coordination and where-with-all that older children have. However, they love to learn new things. Here’s an explanation of whether martial arts are good for toddlers.

Toddlers can participate as much as they can in martial arts. But, typically they won’t be able to do all of the activities until they’re about 5 years of age. Toddlers are also easily distracted so it can be hard for them to get through all of the reps in the drills in a martial arts class.

Some academies may have classes specifically for toddlers. But, typically toddlers have a mind of their own, and won’t follow instructions with discipline. This is developed when children are a little bit older. 

They can still sit in on a class, and participate as well as they can. But, it may be a bit of a distraction, and they can be a little bit in the way. So, it depends on the patience, and vibe of the academy.

If you have older children that train at an academy, and you regularly attend classes with your kids, having a toddler around, and doing a few of the drills here or there is generally fine.

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