Martial arts offer a great way for kids to build strength, learn self-defense, build teamwork, exercise, make friends, develop discipline, build self-esteem and mindfulness.
Many parents enroll their children in martial arts for these very reasons.
Choosing the right martial art for your child can be tricky given a large number of options available.
Each martial art offers distinct advantages, so parents should understand each one thoroughly before going ahead with the enrollment.
To make this selection process easier, I’ve compiled the following list of the 9 best martial arts for kids.
9 Best Martial Arts for Kids
In general, most martial arts are great for kids because of the benefits they offer.
However, here are my nine best martial arts for kids are:
- Muay Thai
- Tae Kwon Do
- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
- Krav Maga
- Tai Chi
- Mixed Martial Arts
Let’s look at each of these martial arts in more detail, and why they might be a good option for your child.
Karate is one of the most popular martial arts practiced on the planet.
It was developed as a weaponless self-defense method in 17th century Japan.
Karate practitioners or “Karateka” are taught many different types of moves like punches, kicks, and blocks.
Karate has become so well known that most schools across the world offer it as a sport.
Why Karate Is Great For Kids
Karate is a holistic martial art that teaches you that the “self” is an enemy.
It places a strong emphasis on patience, self-control, and discipline.
Each of these is important for people to learn from an early age.
Karate is also a balanced martial art that makes use of the entire body.
Kids will learn three elements in the sport:
- Basics (Kihon)
- Forms (Kata)
- Sparring (Kumite)
If you want your child to develop well-distributed strength and agility, Karate is a great martial art to enroll them in.
Muay Thai is a form of Thai boxing that originated in the 13th century.
This martial art teaches you to strike opponents using various limbs, rather than just your fists.
Muay Thai fighters learn to combat opponents with kicks, elbow strikes, shin strikes, and knee strikes.
Why Muay Thai Is Great For Kids
Muay Thai offers kids an effective form of self-defense.
Kids enrolled in this martial art will learn how to counter opponents using different techniques and adapt to dangerous situations in an instant.
Muay Thai may sound complex at first, but it’s actually one of the easiest martial arts to learn.
Children who are having difficulty picking up on the fundamentals of different martial arts will be able to learn Muay Thai with little trouble, provided they are being guided by the right instructor.
Tae Kwon Do
Tae Kwon Do is a martial art that originated in Korea in the 1940s.
It’s essentially a self-defense discipline whose name translates to “The Way Of Foot And Fist.”
This name is fitting, as Tae Kwon Do’s core moves include many sweeping kicks and swift punches.
This martial art also places a heavy emphasis on loyalty, respect, and self-discipline.
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Why Tae Kwon Do Is Great For Kids
Tae Kwon Do is a good choice for your child if you’d like them to learn kicks and punches for self-defense.
Its belt system also encourages them to focus on learning different techniques and improve their skills.
This martial art is also incredibly fun to do.
Many Tae Kwon Do teachers curate special classes for kids to make this activity more enjoyable.
Your child will have a blast learning Tae Kwon Do while also picking up on some valuable defense skills along the way.
Wrestling is considered one of the oldest martial arts on the planet.
Modern wrestling takes many cues from European and Mexican wrestling.
However, the core principle of wrestling has always been to pin down your opponent and incapacitate them.
Wrestlers learn to grapple with their opponents in many different ways.
These techniques can also be useful for self-defense in dangerous settings.
Why Wrestling Is Great For Kids
Many parents enroll their children in youth wrestling for the many benefits it offers.
Wrestling helps improve strength and flexibility.
It’s also one of the safer martial arts, as its focus is less on striking your opponent, and more on taking them down using leverage and body weight.
Wrestling also teaches your child to avoid giving up and to stay calm in tense situations.
They can apply these teachings to other areas of life and find success.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that originated in Brazil.
It was developed using techniques derived from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and Judo.
This martial art also has a lot in common with wrestling, as both use grappling in their core foundation.
It uses body weight, pressure, and timing to take down opponents and incapacitate them quickly using submission holds.
Why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Is Great For Kids
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches kids a versatile form of fighting that allows them to defend themselves against much larger opponents.
This versatility explains why so many professional MMA fighters have backgrounds in BJJ.
BJJ trains both the body and the mind.
Fighters learn to assess dangerous situations and adapt to them with a calm mind and well-trained techniques.
This mental discipline is especially important in fight settings where your child must defend themselves.
BJJ also offers kids a high-intensity workout.
This helps them improve their core strength, build stamina, and lose weight.
The physical and mental health benefits of BJJ make it a worthwhile martial art that every child should enroll in.
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Krav Maga was the official self-defense fighting system of the Israeli Military.
It’s derived from a combination of techniques sourced from Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, Aikido, and Karate.
The word Krav Maga actually means “contact combat.”
Krav Maga is all about using your body and your surroundings as weapons to take down an opponent.
Why Krav Maga Is Good For Kids
Krav Maga teaches children to be confident, strong, and disciplined.
It focuses on other important life skills that help mold children into young adults.
Krav Maga helps develop situational awareness and helps you perform effectively and instinctively under stress.
Krav Maga helps kids recognize common threats such as bullies or even adult predators and makes them feel safer at school and in public areas.
It also offers great fitness training and strength building for kids.
Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art, sometimes also known as shadowboxing.
Tai Chi does not specify a uniform, you can wear any loose clothing and flat-soled shoes to practice it.
It offers 5 main elements:
- Taolu (solo hand and weapons routines/forms)
- Neigong and qigong (breathing, movement, and awareness exercises and meditation)
- Tuishou (Push Hands drills)
- Sanshou (Striking techniques)
Tai Chi also consists of 5 unique types of styles:
- Cheng Style
- Yang Style
- Wu-Hao Style
- Wu Style
- Sun Style
I suggest you research each of these styles to find one that suits your child.
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Why Tai Chi Is Good For Kids
Tai Chi is practiced mainly for its health benefits and meditation which is good for young kids.
Tai Chi is also known to improve:
- Muscle tone
The medical benefits of Tai Chi are great.
It helps with anxiety, calms the mind, helps with ADHD, and has many other benefits.
Tai Chi also helps ease anger and frustration.
It’s a good way for your kids to train a martial art without the risk of injury because there’s no full contact sparring in Tai Chi.
Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art that offers many different styles.
It’s a very well-known martial art and is practiced in over 140 countries.
The goal of Aikido is to defend yourself without injuring the attacker.
Aikido consists of four main principles:
- Breath control
- Triangular principle
Why Aikido Is Good For Kids
Aikido is another nonaggressive combat martial art that makes parents feel a bit more at ease letting their kids do.
Aikido helps by teaching kids how to remain relaxed in chaotic situations.
It teaches kids harmony, positivity, calmness, clarity of mind, and mental strength.
Aikido is also a great way for kids to get some exercise, building physical strength and confidence.
Mixed Marial Arts
Mixed Martial Arts, also known as MMA takes place in a cage or octagon.
MMA is a sport consisting of all different types of martial arts like BJJ, Wrestling, Kickboxing, Boxing, etc.
MMA developed in large part due to the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) which was established in 1993.
It’s become very well known across the world and now there are many MMA gyms for all age groups, including kids classes.
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Why Mixed Martial Arts Is Good For Kids
Kids who train Mixed Martial Arts learn more than one martial arts because MMA is a combination of many fighting styles, as the name suggests.
MMA has many benefits like self-defense, fitness training, strength training, values like discipline and hard work, and dealing with adversity.
Kids who train MMA the right way learn many valuable lessons and are extremely well prepared to handle dangerous situations.
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Which Martial Art is Best for Kids?
Each of the martial arts mentioned above is great for kids to learn.
It’s difficult to say which is best, as each excels in different areas.
Martial arts like Tai Chi and Aikido are a great choice for young children who struggle with attention issues, as these options offer a much more mindful practice.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, and Muay Thai are a better fit for children above the age of seven who need self-defense training and a boost in self-confidence.
Most martial arts instructors know how to adapt lessons for children, so don’t be shy about enrolling your child in unique martial art.
It could be just the activity they’ve been waiting to get into.