Best Martial Arts for Kids (From real world experience)

If you’re trying to decide what Marital Art is best for your young child, you’ve come to the right place.

Before diving right into Judo, which I consider to be one of the best martial arts for kids along with Karate, Taekwondo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, here is a quick interpretive run-down of Martial Art.

best martial arts for kids

What is Martial Arts?

Everyone has their own idea of what a Martial art is. What’s yours?

At the risk of overly simplifying a tired and abstract debate…

Let’s look at a Wikipedia’s definition of ‘Martial’. The word ‘Martial’ according to Wikipedia is Characteristic of or befitting a warrior.”


The most universally popular ‘Martial arts’ that fall into that criteria are…

Taekwondo,  Karate, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu(BJJ), and Wrestling.

If you’re already familiar with wrestling, here’s a quick description on the other four and a simple layout of striking and grappling.

Striking Martial Arts

Swinging or throwing a body part with the aim of inflicting damage and pain to a target. Basically, a fancy word for ‘hitting’. 

Taekwondo: A Martial Art from South Korea with special attention to head kicks, spinning and jumping kicks, and acrobatics. It has a fantastic flair and is lovely to watch.

Karate: a powerful striking art of punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes. Very direct and intense.

Grappling Martial Arts

Is grabbing. Grappling is simply using any part of your body as a tool to immobilize or move another’s body with great control.

Judo: A.K.A the ‘Gentle Way’. An art focused on off balancing and gaining a position of control with leverage, positioning and timing by using an opponent’s strength, size and force against them. Lots of throws with some grappling on the ground.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ): Very similar to judo. However, more time spent on the ground and more focus on submission holds.

What effect will Martial Arts have on other areas of your Child’s life?

Training in Martial Arts can award great qualities to a young child.

Attitude of a humbled Champion. Falling in love with process. Earning ranking and respect by way of patience and persistence. This will be true with whatever art is chosen for the child.

Yet, there is a glaring question here that must be acknowledged…

best martial arts for kids

Grappling OR Striking Martial Arts?

Differences as polarizing as night and day…

Grappling: Judo, BJJ, Wrestling.

  • These arts are 100% reliant on grappling
  • By acquiring skills such as off balancing another person by using leverage control, advantageous body positioning and timing, grappling is great for minimal harm self-defense.

Striking: Taekwondo, Karate.

  • These arts are 100% reliant on striking.
  • As striking Martial Arts give you the ability to strike, with that comes pattern recognition training to see a potential punch or kick before it is even thrown, giving you time, you move out of the way and avoid being struck against an aggressive attack.

BOTH extreme sides of the Martial Arts spectrum are effective in their own ways.

As the true and tried saying goes “You won’t know it until you try it”. If there is a Martial Arts club near your house? Find out if they offer a free class.

YouTube  – Type the name of any marital art into YouTube and there will be plenty of videos showing what the Martial Art looks like. You and your child can watch together and see what look like the best fit!

Also check out a helpful article we wrote on how to choose the right martial art for your child.

AND NOW…For a cheeky Segway into a little aspect of Judo practice that provide unparallel benefits to children…

When you decided to read this article, you didn’t expect to be reading about….

What is falling?

Falling is the leading cause of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). TBI occurs when the brain is injured by an external force. 

In 2014 over 837,000 children suffered TBI…from falling. 0-17-year old’s make up for 49% of TBI related deaths and hospitalizations due to falling. Per studies done by the CDC.

These are very unsettling and frustrating statistics.

You can’t stop a child from falling, it’s going to happen. But you can teach a child ‘how’ to fall. That’s where Judo comes in…

Ukemi – The art of falling

In Judo, there is as much importance given to falling as there is to the throw.

It’s part of the deal. One partner offers up their body to be thrown and in return the other offers up theirs. The last thing you’d want to do is break your partner…then you wouldn’t have a partner!

To solve this. Learning how to fall safely and effectively is a large part of judo training.

Other martial arts practice falling to a degree. But judo takes it to a unparallel level. Judo consist of throws with such impressive speed and force that having an excellent falling ability is a prerequisite for participation.

This skill set saved me from major and minor injuries more times than I can count.

Benefits of Judo

  • It’s not about causing harm or inflicting pain on another; But rather controlling aggressive impulses, seeing they don’t get the best of you.
  • Judo can teach your child to remain a calm, present and actionable force in an otherwise chaotic situation.
  • Learning about Japanese language and culture.
  • Balance and bodily awareness.
  • Emphasis of finesse over power.

You can read more about the amazing benefits of judo here.

Judo is a way of life

  • The ‘Gentleness’ of judo pours into everyday life of judo practitioners.
  • Higher ranked students assist in teaching lower ranked students; this develops the tendency to pass off the knowledge and assistance to that you’ve learned to those in need.
  • Sparring in Judo is common. Winning and losing daily teaches the child to accepts defeat gracefully and embrace winning with humility in all walks of life.

Best age to start Judo?

Better late than never, but never later is better.

Some begin Judo as early as 4 years old.

Young children benefit greatly by tumbling, developing confidence and learning to operate cohesively in a group setting.

Some begin Judo at the age of 50 years old. Never too late. Never too early.

Final Thoughts

No matter how you slice it;

Judo, wrestling, BJJ, taekwondo or karate

Having your child involved in any Martial Art can make them a better person. A more socially and emotionally balanced individual.

Not all Martial Arts are created equal. When you Practice Judo, you are a Judoka.

A Judoka goes about life as a student always seeking to bring generosity, focus and equanimity to each of life interactions.

Google and contact your local Judo Club.

Take your child for a free trial class. Pick up one of the best judo uniform for beginners. Begin the journey.