6 Best Martial Arts For Kids To Learn & Why They're Great

Lydia Samson
Dec 12, 2023 By Lydia Samson
Originally Published on Feb 24, 2021
Martial arts are becoming more and more popular among children because they are great for the body and the mind.
Age: 0-99
Read time: 10.0 Min

Martial arts are an amazing way for your child to build strength, confidence, discipline, and to make new friends.

With so many options to choose from, picking the right martial art for your kid can be a tough and confusing process.

We've done the research for you and picked out the best martial arts for children, breaking down the benefits and skills your kid will gain from each type so you can choose the one that best matches their personality and needs.

So, how old should your child be when they start martial arts? Some studios offer classes for kids as young as three years old, but it is recommended that children begin martial arts at around the five to six age mark.

Martial arts can even be beneficial to three or four-year-olds, teaching them coordination and discipline at a young age.

However, if your child wants to start competing, it is best to wait until they are at least eight years or older. This way they are more emotionally mature to deal with losing competitions, following rules, and feeling satisfaction whether they win or lose.

If you find this article useful, you might also like our articles on [6-year-old birthday parties] and [7-year-old birthday party ideas].

Why Are Martial Arts Good For Kids?

Martial arts have amazing effects on the physical and mental health of both children and adults. They can also teach your children important life skills such as self-defense, teamwork, discipline, and confidence, and they're also just a lot of fun.

So, if you're sitting on the fence about enrolling your children into kids martial arts classes, take a look at the amazing benefits of learning martial arts for kids.


Martial arts can help your kids stay active and healthy and it is an awesome way for them to have fun! Kids can get a full-body workout, as well as improve their coordination, reflexes, flexibility, balance, endurance, and agility.

Staying fit and active can help them feel better in their day-to-day lives as they have more energy for school and other activities. It is also a great option for children who don't enjoy other sports.

Make Friends

Like team sports, martial arts is a great way for your children to meet other kids and make new friends as they learn the art. Making new friends in class can help motivate your kid to continue going to classes and encourage each other to do their best and keep improving.


Even though martial arts is measured individually, it can help kids work better in teams as they have shared goals that they are working together to achieve. Most martial arts require students to practice moves on each other (known as sparring) once they reach a certain level.

Training and drilling together is far more beneficial than training alone, so students have to learn to work together. They are also taught to be respectful of one another and to encourage and support each other on their martial arts journeys.

Self Defense

Teaching self-defense is one of the best benefits of martial arts for kids and for parents. Being parents comes with the burden of worrying about your child's safety when you aren't there to protect them.

Martial arts is a great way for children to learn defense skills so that you can worry less, and they can feel safer in the world.


Teaching your kids to block, kick, and punch doesn't mean your child will become more aggressive in their day-to-day life. In fact, studies have shown that martial arts can reduce aggressive behavior as it teaches discipline and self-control.


The martial arts are known for their benefits on the mind. They can help your kid grow into a well-rounded person by teaching them important life skills like mindfulness, patience, humility, and respect. It can even help them listen better, feel calmer, stay focused, and persevere through tough situations.  

Self Esteem

Enrolling your child in a martial arts class can do amazing things for their confidence. Classes are often rooted in teaching the importance of personal growth rather than competition, so there is no pressure for your child to compare themselves to others.

Beginning martial arts can help your child feel more confident in themselves. Working towards and achieving goals set in classes is also a great opportunity for your child to boost their self esteem as they progress at their own pace through different belt levels.

The 6 Best Martial Arts For Kids To Learn (And Why)

There are many different types of martial arts for your child to choose from, but the best martial art for your child depends on what you want your child to get out of the sport. Whatever you choose, your child is sure to learn self-defense, make new friends, improve their self-esteem, and learn discipline.

If the first type you try doesn't work for your child, you can always try a different one.

There are also mixed martial arts for kids if your child wants a more well-rounded experience. Make sure to explore the options in your area so you can find the school that best supports your child's growth.

Every form of martial arts offers its own unique style and benefits.

1. Karate

Karate is one of the most practiced forms of martial arts in the world. It originated as a form of weaponless self-defense in Okinawa, Japan when weapons were banned and translates to "empty hands" in Japanese. So, karate is obviously a great option for teaching your kids self-defense skills.

In traditional karate, it is believed that the self is the real enemy, so the teachings have a strong focus on spiritual development, self-control, patience, and discipline to help master oneself. Karate makes use of balanced, full-body moves, and training focuses on blocks, strikes, punches, evasions, and kicks that help your child counter-strike opponents.

As your child progresses from a white belt to a black belt, they will learn the three core elements of Karate: Kihon (basics), Kata (forms), and Kumite (sparring).

There are plenty of Karate classes for kids in every state, so once you find the right studio for you, you'll have your own little karate kids in no time.

2. Tae Kwon Do

Like Karate, Tae Kwon Do focuses on teaching patience and discipline. It is considered a way of life that teaches unity of the body, mind, and life, and improves one's spirit and life by training the body and mind.

Tae Kwon Do translates to "the way of the foot and the fist" in Korean. It has a stronger focus on leg work and kicks than karate does.

So, if your child is interested in learning fast and elaborate kicks, Tae Kwon Do might be the best choice for them.

While a lot of the focus is on legs, students will still learn blocks, take-downs, throws punches, joint locks, and strikes. Tae Kwon Do is also one of the most popular martial arts among parents, and it is safe for children as young as three years old.

3. Wrestling

Wrestling is one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world, dating back as far as Ancient Egypt. Children of any size or height can train to wrestle as there are styles that suit every body type.

Wrestling is a combat sport that focuses on grappling techniques. In wrestling classes, your child will learn clinch fighting, throws, takedowns, joint locks, and pins. It is also one of the hardest forms of martial arts both physically and mentally so your kids will develop great core strength and cardio as well as persistence and confidence.

As wrestling is often a competitive sport, it also has the added benefit of teaching children accountability, as they can take credit for their wins and accept that no one else is to blame for their losses.

Children can begin wrestling at four or five years old, but this varies depending on their attitude. Many children that start competitive wrestling at this age can experience burnout by 12 years old as their focus is on winning instead of actually enjoying the sport and having fun.

So, it's recommended that if you enroll your child in a wrestling school, you save the competition for later down the track so they can build up their love for the sport first.

4. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is considered one of the best martial arts for self-defense as it teaches you skills that you can use against bigger and stronger opponents. Jiu-Jitsu is great for kids because it is not based on strength or power, which gives smaller opponents a chance to defend themselves.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uses grappling techniques that focus on distance control, leverage, positioning, and submissions rather than striking or kicking.

Jiu-Jitsu translates to "gentle way" as it is focused on teaching students how to use exactly the right amount of force to get out of difficult situations. Your kids will learn how to use their legs to dominate their opponent and how to get out of a difficult position by increasing their flexibility.

The techniques learned in  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are also pretty easy to get the hang of and start using.

Jiu-Jitsu originated in Japan where it was used by Samurai warriors on the battlefield as a last resort for defense if they were disarmed. It eventually made its way to Brazil where it evolved over the years so that the techniques would work for smaller and weaker opponents.

It's no wonder that today it's becoming one of the most popular martial art forms.

Jiu-Jitsu is great for self-defense as its techniques work on bigger and stronger opponents.

5. Muay Thai

Muay Thai is known as the best striking martial art in the world, translating to "Thai boxing". It has a reputation of being one of the more violent forms of martial arts and because of this, parents sometimes avoid enrolling their children in a Muay Thai class.

However, schools have a strong focus on enforcing that the skills students learn should only be used in classes and for self-defense.

Muay Thai is a close-combat martial art that turns the whole body into a weapon. It is often called "the art of the eight limbs" as you are taught to use eight points of contact to defend yourself.

The hands become the sword, the shins and forearms become the armor, the elbow acts as the hammer, and the legs and knees become an ax.

As fancy as this sounds, Muay Thai is also one of the easier forms of martial art to learn, as it teaches an effective stand-up striking style that doesn't involve too many complicated movements your child has to memorize. It also incorporates grappling techniques that mix seamlessly with striking techniques.

6. Aikido

If you're looking for non-violent martial arts for kids, then Aikido is probably the one of the best martial arts to learn as it is considered one of the less violent forms of martial arts.

It doesn't have the best reputation for self-defense as it isn't very powerful against other people experienced in martial arts.

However, it is useful against aggressive, unskilled people who lack control as it has a strong focus on wrist locks and controlling arm direction. Aikido is a great option for young kids starting out with martial arts who struggle to focus in more complicated martial art classes.

It is often recommended that those studying Aikido also learn another one of the martial arts listed on this list later in their lives to develop more self-defense skills.

If your kids find that they don't enjoy the first form of martial art they try, there are many other different types of martial arts for kids you might like to explore, such as Kung Fu, traditional fencing, mixed martial arts, Judo, and Tai Chi too.

You could even enroll in martial arts for mom and daughter, mom and son, or dad and kids classes too!

If you found this article helpful, why not take a look at our favorite songs about family or our [best tween birthday party ideas]?

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Written by Lydia Samson

Bachelor in Science specializing in Mass Communication

Lydia Samson picture

Lydia SamsonBachelor in Science specializing in Mass Communication

A diligent and driven mass communications graduate from Caleb University, Lydia has experience in media and a passion for digital marketing and communications. She is an effective communicator and team-builder with strong analytical, management, and organizational skills. She is a self-starter with a positive, can-do attitude.

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