How to Choose the Right Martial Art for Your Child? (A Step by Step Guide)

Martial Arts is a great form of exercise for children and teach them a solid work ethic, self-control and social skills. So how do you choose the right martial art for your child?

It can be very difficult for parents to choose since there are so many different forms of Martial arts and different schools. Each style offers slightly different skill sets and principles, but all of the reputable martial arts teach children the core principles of hard work, discipline and self-defense.

In this article, We’ll show you a step by step guide that will help you choose the right martial art for your child. In fact, we’ll also give a brief summary of some of the most popular choices to help you decide.

choose a martial art for your child

How to Choose the Right Martial Art for Your Child – Step by Step Guide

1. Check the location

Location can be very important in this modern age, where parents already spend long hours commuting to work. However, I’d argue a good martial arts school is worth travelling for a child’s development.

Fortunately, martial arts is practiced widely in every major city, so there is always going to be plenty of options to choose from.

2. Do your research

Things to look into:

  • Services they provide
  • Their core values or what do they plan on teaching my child
  • Their class schedules
  • Pricing
  • Pictures or videos of their facilities

You should also check Yelp or Google reviews to see how others rated their services and to read other parents stories about their child’s experiences in classes.

If you can’t find above information on their website, you can always call them to find out.

3. Make a list of questions to ask

From the research, have a list of questions ready to ask the instructor for before going in for a visit.

These questions will help fill in any gaps of knowledge the website or the call might have missed.

4. Pay a visit

When visiting a martial arts school, always ask to meet with an instructor and ask to observe a class. This observation shows how the instructor teaches the class and interacts with the other children. The number of children in the class is also very important to note.

I’d suggest also ask for a trial class for your child in order to see if your child likes the instructor, the atmosphere and if he gets along well with the other children.

Check what ranking system is in place. One of the key components of traditional martial arts is the belt or ranking systems. Reaching the next ranking through hard work and dedication teaches kids work ethic, goal setting and confidence.

Finally, check the school for cleanliness and safety. I believe this speaks to the character of the instructors and professionalism of the school if they keep a tidy exercise area, office and bathroom facilities.

Things to keep in mind

Child Interaction

Watch how your child interacts with the instructor and the other students. The observation will show how much attention your child gets during each session and how empowering this experience will be for them.

Be careful of aggression

There might be schools that only teach students how to fight without teaching the positive principles of martial arts.

You want your kids to know self-defense, but you also want to make sure that they understand the importance of using these skills as only a means of self-defense, not violence.


Originating from Okinawa, Japan, Karate is arguable the most popular form of martial arts in the world.

At its core, it teaches martial arts as a way of life and focuses leading a balanced life. This style utilizes various hand and foot striking techniques to teach harmony and discipline.

Tae Kwon Do

Similar to Karate, Tae Kwon Do is another very popular martial arts with great benefits for toddlers, even getting attention as an Olympic sport.

This Korean style utilizes several variations of blocks, kicks, punches and throws in order to develop speed, strength and balance. However, their main emphasis is on kicks.

This style focuses heavily on sparring and fostering positive competitive spirit through tournaments.


The second martial arts to appear in the Olympics, Judo utilizes one’s own body weight to takedown or throw one’s opponent.

This style doesn’t involve striking as the others, but it does prioritize self-defense and reacting to your opponent’s movements. It is also very competitive.

Read more about why Judo could be one of the best martial arts for kids here.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a more combat oriented martial arts that uses grappling and ground fighting in order to defend themselves.

Through this style, smaller people can defend themselves against stronger opponents through leveraging body weight and various choke holds and joint locks.


Aikido is a Japanese style of martial arts that focuses defending one’s self and limiting the aggressor’s injuries.

It is a very spiritual practice that emphasizes relaxation and harmony. It utilizes movements that redirects opponent’s attacks.

The Take Away

  • Do your research. There’s lots of options out there. From various styles and different schools, finding a school that fits your child’s needs is easy with an internet search
  • Set your intentions. This is a learning experience for you and your child. You want to be confident the school of your choice is instilling positive qualities into your child.
  • Visit. Before spending any money, make sure this school and the various instructors are right for your child.