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26/11/2014

Martial Arts For Kids - What's a Good Age to Start?


Are you considering the martial arts for your child? Are you concerned about the level of bullying, hazing, and danger that your child could encounter as they enter school?

One of the most common questions that I'm asked concerns the best age to start a child in martial arts training. While every school is different - not just in the age that a child may start, but also in the type of program that is offered.

This article is designed to give you sense of clarity on the subject, as well as to offer my opinion from the standpoint of self defense - rather than how "cute" Johnny looks in his uniform!

I suggest starting a child between the ages of 3 1/2 & 4 years old. While my own daughters began at 2 1/2, they were "home-trained" by me and didn't really enter the dojo setting until the age of 3 or 3 1/2. At this age, they are starting to develop a better attention span, memory retention, and the ability to communicate well and stay on topic.

That being said, it really depends on the child. However, the one thing that needs to be kept in mind is that the child is not an "adult-brain" in a child's body. I know how obvious that sounds, but you would be amazed by the number of people who believe that their children are learning the stranger rules for the same reason that the adults are teaching it.

And that's just the beginning of the confusion. Add to that the fact that most adults have no idea what to look for when it comes to self defense, or even where to begin, and you end up with quite a mess.

So, the training for this age must be centered around the child's needs and what he or she may run into in a real-world incident. We would never teach a child the same things that we teach adults because they are not going to get into a scientific "slug-fest" with another kid their age. It's just not going to happen.

That means that training should focus on evasion and avoiding of things like:

    pushes
    shoving
    slapping, and...
    kicking techniques...

...from bullies that are the same age and older.

And, it should include defenses for pick-up attacks where an adult abductor is trying to carry the child off.

In addition, skills that focus on coordination, socialization, manners, respect, and discipline could (and should) be incorporated.

Remember, your child, like all students of any age, has specific needs and dangers that must be accounted for and met when looking for a children's martial arts program.

If you're looking for a sport or recreational form of martial arts for kids, practically any style or school will do. But, if you're a concerned parent whose looking for answers and a self defense education for your child, then you need to know what to look for.


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