What’s the best style of Martial Arts for young children?

Perhaps your love for the nineties animation Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles encouraged you to produce your own brood of aspiring martial art trained little people… maybe not. But now they are with all the energy and potential they shall perhaps ever possess, you are looking for ways to channel these qualities into something productive. Martial arts classes can be a great solution to keeping your child regularly active as well as teaching them invaluable life skills.

Parents can often get a feel for their child’s personality and development very early on. The way a toddler plays together with other children is a big give away as to whether or not they will be interested in team type sports. You may feel football or rugby won’t be for them so individual focused sports martial arts may be more suited to their temperament. Although encouraging the meeting and interacting with other children, martial arts classes have less of the pressure and intimidation which often comes with team sports practice.

Many parents worry that martial arts based classes will promote violence, but they actually place heavy focus on using the mind to overcome an opponent rather than that of brute force. Self-defence techniques are taught to be used when needed, so parents can feel reassured that your child will perhaps be able to defend themselves in later life. Self-discipline and respect for others is prominent in martial arts teaching, values which can only benefit other areas of a child’s development.

Developing a child’s concentration and attention skills early will set them up for their academic future as well as improving behaviour imminently. Being presented with goal attainment situations such as the grading belts will get a child used to the testing systems they have to face in later life, making them less daunting.

In the hope that we have convinced you martial arts can be extremely beneficial for the early development of your child we now discuss some options in answer to the question what’s the best martial art for young children?


Karate places emphasis on using both the hands and feet for quick, sharp kicks and punches. The snappy movements do mean a child would have to warm up carefully and effectively. Also taught are defensive blocking techniques. Working all the muscles, Karate would be great for really active and energised children.


More military in style, Taekwondo teaches to be energized when there is a need for it alongside calming breathing techniques. This martial art form adheres to ‘6 tenets’ which are encouraged to be followed in all areas of life. Including courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit and victory values any parent can only look to encourage. Ideal for those children who love to be part of a ‘club’.


Taught as a competitive sport focusing on self-defence techniques which use opponents weight and strength against them. Involves partner work to get this right, so Jujitsu encourages social interaction and cooperation with other young children. Suited to those children with access anger or frustration, teaching them to channel this energy in the right environments. Jujitsu translates as ‘gentle art’ and says force should only be used in self-defence.


The gentler and non-competitive sister of Jujitsu. Similarly, children work together to practice different methods in a formal and never violent environment. One rule of Aikido is to never use force to oppose force. Children work through Kyu grades gaining them white, yellow, orange, green, blue then brown belts.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu is a fast-paced martial art involving rigorous physical activity. Children receive an all-round aerobic workout which focuses on the mantra ‘achievement through great effort’. It teaches the pressure points on the body and how to use them to an advantage. Children work in close proximity and quick reflexes are ideal.

Tang So Doo

Perhaps the least know in our line-up, Tang So Doo is taught from the age of 4 upwards. Children learn self-discipline and confidence early on with this one. This martial art form is said to have positive effects on children’s concentration and increases their sense of self-worth.

Our selections present just a slice of what there is to offer young children when it comes to martial arts classes. See our full list of martial arts styles here, many of which tailor sessions for young children. Each child is different, so you may want to let them try out a few styles of classes before settling on one you’re both comfortable with. Playing to a child’s strengths is essential as well as looking for those forms which look to improve those areas in which a child is less developed. One thing that is said across the board is there are ‘no bad forms of martial art’ and there is more of an emphasis on placing children with the right instructor for them.


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