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Best Martial Arts For Kids (Including Martial Arts You’d Least Expect)

Best Martial Arts for Kids

The best are martial arts for kids are ones that will help them develop self-discipline and improve their focus, build confidence, and make them more aware of their body. These are Brazilian jiu jitsu, wrestling, and mma.

It is recommended that children begin martial arts around the age of five or six, though some martial arts gyms offer classes for kids as young as three. If they are able to take direction they are able to take a martial arts class.

What are the best martial arts for kids? Today’s kids are more hyperactive than ever, which is not bad. 

Kids need to burn off that energy, and there is no better way to do that than through sports or physical activities. Martial Arts could also be the perfect fit for your child, whether active or shy.

Related: Which Martial Art Should I Learn First?

Martial arts training can provide them with important life skills that will benefit them as they grow older.

Young martial artists overall have proven to be more balanced and grow up to be well-rounded people regardless of how long or short their own martial arts journey is.

Martial arts classes can also be a great way to get your child into shape and learn self-defense.

However, there are many different martial arts schools and it can be hard to find the perfect fit, each one offering something unique.

In terms of when should they start martial arts training and how old should they be when they start competing in martial arts?

It is recommended that children begin martial arts around the age of five or six, though some martial arts gyms offer classes for kids as young as three.

You will want your kid to be able to listen and take instruction so if you find your child is able to do so at the age of three years olds by all means considering signing them up for a martial arts class.

At a young age, martial arts can teach coordination and discipline to children as young as three and four years old.

These are integral skills for their own physical development

For children who wish to compete, waiting until they are at least eight years old is a good idea. 

In this way, they will have a better understanding of how to deal with losing competitions, following rules, and feeling satisfied whether they win or lose.

Frequent competition has been shown to be extremely beneficial for a developing child. It will teach them how to properly deal with winning and losing which is something that will happen throughout the rest of their life. 

This article will explore some of the best martial arts for kids and which is right for your family.

So whether you’re looking for self-defense or a way for your child to stay active, read on to find the perfect fit.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, is a martial art that is great for kids to start between the ages of 8-12. Besides, BJJ is considered one of the safest for children. Why?

Simply because:

  • less impact on your child’s body when compared with striking arts
  • it can be done safely with minimal risk to their joints
  • excellent for your child’s mental health
  • helps them become less stressed and anxious
  • helps them relax more
  • It helps your child’s coordination and balance
  • improves their focus.

In an average, bjj martial arts class, you child will likely go over fundamental movements, play jiu jitsu specific games, and may do some form of live training depending on their age and experience.

BJJ training specifically include takedowns, controlling your opponent on the ground through the use of dominant positions, and working toward submissions through join locks and strangles (but don’t worry your child likely won’t be learning any submissions until age 10 and above).

Kids who join bjj will start at white belt and will received degrees or strips at each belt before moving onto the next on and eventually go all the way up to a green belt before age 16.

At age 16 they can be promoted to an adult blue belt.

If you’re curious the belt progression for adult bjj students are:

White Belt > Blue Belt > Purple Belt > Brown Belt > Black Belt


Wrestling is a great martial art for kids. It teaches them to be tough and disciplined, which are qualities that everyone needs regardless of age.

If your nearby school offers wrestling, we can’t recommend enrolling your kid enough.

Wrestling is the basic for many grappling based martial arts and is ideal for any one looking to have their kid learn the basics of self defense and controlling another person in a grappling scenario.

Wrestling will no doubt be beneficial throughout their martial arts journey.

Wrestling also teaches your child how to fall safely, which is an important skill for any sport or activity where falling may happen.

Another benefit of wrestling is that it builds strength and flexibility in your body in a fun way!  The best part about wrestling? You don’t have to be big or strong—boys or girls can compete at any size!

Muay Thai 

Muay Thai may be a good choice if you want to enroll your child in a striking martial art.

Do you want to sign them up for a martial art where they will learn to defend themselves using all their limbs? Then Muay Thai is a good choice.

Muay Thai is a martial art that uses the entire body as a weapon. This martial art is a complete form of self-defense. Why? That’s because it utilizes all 8 limbs:

  • 2 arms
  • 2 legs
  • 2 knees
  • 2 elbows

The sport also emphasizes balance, coordination, endurance, and physical strength—all things that can help you stay safe if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation.

Mixed Martial Arts

So what about mixed martial arts?

Those young people who wish to become complete martial artists would do well to train in mixed martial arts.

A well-designed MMA program will help your children in many ways:

  • they will learn everything they need to defend themselves
  • MMA will include realistic grappling and striking training
  • they will move around a lot, which will boost their motor skills
  • they will exercise actively, which will boost their fitness, strength, and endurance
  • And they will develop exceptional coordination, balance, and flexibility, which they can then apply to all physical activities.

Although the aforementioned martial arts are excellent in their own right, they only teach youngsters one technique at a time.

Mixed martial arts teaches them how to compete both on the ground and on their feet. Thus, allowing them to become more well-rounded and ready for the challenges of the real world.


Why we recommend gymnastics for kids –

Gymnastics helps build the core attributes of any martial artists:

  • teaches them how to move their body in challenging ways
  • gaining strength through body weight movements
  • connection and control of their body/limbs
  • improves coordination
  • increases flexibility
  • and teaches them how to listen to instruction

Gymnastics are a great way to get your kid started in a physical activity at a young age. It will teach them many necessary skills that will carry over to any martial art later in their life – plus its just fun.

Just ask George St. Pierre who started in gymnastics at a young age and continued to do gymnastics training along with other martial arts such as karate, wrestling, and Brazilian jiu jitsu.

It’s a universal truth that kids thrive when they’re on the go. Gymnastics is a great activity for kids since they get to run, leap, and flip while also improving their coordination and self-esteem.

Children as young as 2 can begin gymnastics lessons because the sport comes easily to them. Benefits of beginning gymnastics at a young age include enhanced balance and coordination, stronger bones, and a more disciplined disposition.

Kids are forming stronger bonds with one another, engaging in imaginative play, and developing motor skills through activities such as swinging and hopping. Gymnastics is a great way to foster growth in these areas as well.

Are Martial Arts Safe for Toddlers and Kids?

Wait but are martial arts safe for toddlers?

Martial arts are very safe for toddlers. If you are looking to sign your toddler up for martial arts or other physical training we strongly recommend gymnastics, wrestling, and Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Martial arts training is completely safe for kids of all ages. Different children mature at different rates, and that’s perfectly normal. Martial arts will help your child with personal development and spiritual development as they get older.

Martial arts may pique the interest of some children as young as two. Others, on the other hand, may not show any enthusiasm until they are ten.

Overall, martial arts programs are popular among parents as an after-school activity because of the many benefits they provide. This includes teaching children discipline and self-control while providing physical exercise.

Martial arts provide much more than a break for busy parents. They may shape a child’s character and help them become better people overall. 

Thanks for reading and see you in the next one!