martial arts for kids
ive never really trained martial arts of any sort but my 4 year old son is interested in taking some classes. the question is figuring out where the best place to start is.
right now we are taking judo and it is a lot of fun. im able to take the classes with him and he seems to enjoy it. i picked judo because it seemed like it has a lot of options as far as competition for young kids, more so than bjj. also the judo teacher (who im sure is biased) said it was a big mistake to let very young children train bjj as it is just too rough on their joints etc when still developing.
im open to other martial arts as well, although im prejudiced against muay thai, and tae kwon do type things for kids his age but id still be willing to listen to others opinions on it.
keep in mind that he is 4 and we are not approaching this like many of you do with the goal of some sort of mma competition. assuming he continues to enjoy it i would like for him to be a well rounded martial artist, as it is something i wish i would have pursued when i was younger.
Anything that doesn't utilize joint locks. Judo and BJJ are fine if the kids are not allowed to use joint locks, but I have a feeling that most clubs don't care.
Kids skeletal structures are not yet fully developed and should not be put in a lot of locking and stressful situations.
I would say wrestling for grappling and something like karate/TKD for punching and kicking. Most karate/TKD schools have good kids programs that are geared more towards having fun, which is what kids want.
Most of the time the kids will lose interest in 6 months or less.
The places I trained in Judo wouldnt let their young classes use Jointlocks like armbars, knee bars etc, because childrens bones are quite flexible, and they bend a lot more than adult bones, but once they are bent or broken they will be that way for the rest of that childs life, if an adult breaks a bone it heals, albeit never to the same strength, but children can get some nasty repercussions from breakages at a young age. The competitions I used to fight in wouldnt allow under 12s to use chokes either, incase of injury during the fights.
I would look into Karate; a lot of places have karate for young children, and like Rush said, they are often geared towards fun, rather than hardcore training. Dont get me wrong, Karate is not an "easier" martial art than any others, but it does lend itself well to being a good base style for young children, whereas ssay Muay Thai doesnt. Ive never seen anywhere outside of Thailand offering MT for young children, as it is, by its nature a very intense martial art, that invariably causes pain and discomfort for its practicioners as they begin, and young children, apart from Thai kids, dont like pain too much, and Im sure you dont want your kid getting hurt!
If I were you I would put my child in TKD and definitely not Muay Thai. I have trained in both and actually taught TKD for about two years and the type of training TKD offers is perfect for a young child. Our school had specific times for children called the "Kickin' Dragon" classes which were very good at pairing very young children by age. These classes were from age 3-6. The first part of class was the more serious part which included mostly kata and basic kicking and punching technique incorporated into games. The second part was other fun games, age appropriate for the kids. Overall TKD is great for kids that age because it is mostly about having fun but the discipline and technique is still involved. Hope I could help!
I would say the style you choose is not as important as the instructor. Hapkido would be my choice as it is a very nice, well-rounded style that also employs more acrobatic stuff which is always fun. And there are some places which have MT for kids, and they teach it much the same way as Karate and TKD, not brutal at all, just technical learning. But like I said, just watch some of the classes and see how the Instructor is with the kids, there is so much variation between the crazy hardcore teacher and the soft, fun guy, and knowledge across the spectrum as well.
thank you all for your help. i think the judo class i have him in is good for a few reasons. mostly because i like the instructor and they have a great group of kids, who despite being older, are great with my son. there also seems to be the opportunity for a lot of competition. karate or tkd do seem like great options as well, especially since my son would probally like to do jumping spin kicks about 23 hours a day. at 4 years old it is very hard for him to put on his judo gi, fold out an awesome mat, and then not be able to jump kick and whatnot. the judo class i have him in is very strict on no joint locks of any kind until 16 and no choking until 13, which seems to be the direction the competitions are going.
thank you all,
Posted by jomatty
mostly because i like the instructor and they have a great group of kids, who despite being older, are great with my son.
You also brought up another great point and I'm glad you found a school that also meets these criteria as well.
I wouldn't say he is biased, but you most likely will get more injuries from Judo than BJJ. However I think the point he was trying to make was about the submissions, because in Judo children can't use them till about 16 I believe. As far as competition goes, you'll be hard pressed to find another martial art that competes more often, as it's popular in every country in the world due to Olympic exposure...
I would say to stick with Judo, if he likes it that is...
yeah as long as he stays interested im gonna stick with judo. if he loses interest maybe we will try something like tkd that may be more exciting for him.
i think what the judo instructor was talking about was not necessarily more injuries in bjj but more permanent damage. he said that there will be more bumps and bruises but less in the way to developing tendons and joints.
As a preface, I have taught judo for many years to a wide range of age groups.
Judo is a great martial art for kids to start with because it enhances lots of physical and mental skills (e.g., coordination, balance, goal-focused behavior, cooperation, etc.). Most importantly, it teaches them how to fall and protect themselves from injury (for future MMA fighters this is a big deal -- many martial arts teach kata but they don't really train you to take a hit). While injuries do happen among kids, they are pretty rare (in my experience).
Normally, I don't recommend starting kids in judo before age 6 simply because they lack the ability to focus in class and to understand the body movements necessary to execute throws. That said, some kids do start younger because they can overcome these issues. My son is 5 but I won't start him in judo until next year.
In the US, chokes are not permitted in judo competition for kids under 13, and joint locks for kids under 16. That said, many schools will teach these to a certain extent before the kids can use these skills in competition, but usually on a fairly gentle basis. Injuries are bad for kids, for the dojo, for the instructor and for the sport.
I would suggest Kuk Sool Won. I admit to being a bit biased since it was the first style I had trained in, but I began Kuk Sool Won at the age of 5 and I had a successful carrer. Kuk Sool focuses on pressure point manipulation and kickboxing. It also uses several techniques used in Judo and when one recieves a blue belt (third belt of seven), Judo classes are recommended if the student doesn't already have that backround. The main reason why I would suggest Kuk Sool Won for a young child is that to effectively use pressure point manipulation, the student must have a firm understanding of the human body's circulatory and nervous systems. It is very educational and makes for a very dicsipled fighter. The kickboxing training is also a welcome break from studying about pressure points and kids always have a blast with working on leg strikes.
Speaking from my own experience, my biggeest weakness all throughout my career was balance. I strongly suggest gymnastics training at a young age. Good balance and a lean stature also make for an easy transition into BJJ when he is old enough.
thanks, im still not sure what direction im going to go in but im definitely going to ride judo out for a bit longer. he is good at katagame (not sure if that is right) and the ground stuff and seems to get it but so much has to happen for the throws to work and stuff like that that im not sure he can do it at his age. basically he is having the sort of problems the judo teacher said he might.
that said he has only had 3 classes so who knows? there was an uncomforatable moment where when doing the back to back drill he took the other kids back and went for a rear naked choke. when me and the teacher jumped in he looked up innocently and said "lions kill, right dad?" teacher was looking at me kinda mean and I had to have a talk with him. may need to reevaluate teaching a 4 year old how to choke (boy does that sound obvious lol) but i assumed he would only be using that move on me. oops. anyways just something i thought was kinda funny, no real reason to post that.
anyways thanks again for he advice,
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This is a really good thread as I am also finding a lot of helpful insights. I have a 3 year old and I would really want him to be a martial arts kind of person so that it would instill in him discipline at a young age. I plan on him taking judo because i have a little background on it but for now I will enroll him to taekwondo this coming summer. So my vote is for TKD for toddlers then move them to judo/grappling when they get older.