Beginner level Karate Kids seem to be getting younger and younger nowadays. What is the right age to start the martial arts? Is your little one ready to become a karate kid?
Back when I started practicing martial arts in the mid 70s the youngest student that karate schools would take was 13 years old. Consequently I started karate at the age of 13. I was then thrown in with the adults and was given the option to “sink or swim”.
As karate has become more popular over the years, kids of a younger age are getting started in the martial arts. There has, of course, been a strong influence from movies such as the Karate Kid (1984) Ninja Turtles (1990) and the Power Rangers (1995) but also with the ever expanding professional Martial Arts schools, with specialized programs for the little kids became more and more popular. Programs with names such as Tiny Tigers, Little Ninjas or Little Dragons abound in most martial arts schools. So at what age are children being accepted into these programs?
It seems that the age of 3 ½ to 4 years old is the youngest age for kids to be accepted into a martial arts program. This basically coincides with the age that a child can begin pre-school and this is no coincidence. So if your child is around 4 years old then he or she will probably be accepted into your local martial arts school.
However there are other factors that you should take into account:
- Is this the first time your child has been involved in a group activity? If so be prepared for some initial nervousness and unwillingness to get out into the training room (dojo) without you.
- Have you already taken your child to your local martial arts school to watch a class? If not, then do so as this is a great opportunity to pre-frame your child so he or she knows what is expected and what a karate school and karate class looks like.
- Do you have realistic expectations for your child? Karate for a 4-year old should be about interaction, coordination, focus and fun. It is not about advanced self-defense or strong discipline at this age. These aspects will be gradually introduced over time as they get older.
- Can your child stay focused for about a half-hour at a time? Most young children have very short attention spans and consequently when teaching karate to a 4-year old an instructor needs to use a series of short but focused drills that flow from one to the other. Be sure to find an instructor who uses this type of method so that your child will maintain interest for the whole duration of the class.
- Can your child follow one, two or three-step instructions? Your child needs to be able to follow basic directions in order to function in the karate class.
If your child does not do this at home then it may be a sign that he or she may struggle at first in the karate class. On the other hand a karate class is the ideal place to help your child learn the value of structure, focus, listening skills, and basic discipline.
All of the above points are just some ideas that you should ask yourself when decide to enroll your child in a martial arts program. The bottom line is you probably won’t know all of the answers unless you give it a go but at the very least you should have some ideas of what to expect and how you can help your child make a successful transition into a fun and very valuable activity.
The Academy of Martial Arts in Port Credit is the Best Professional Martial Arts School serving Mississauga for 31 years teaching kids, teens, and adults all ages in Karate, Tai Chi, and Fitness Cardio Kickboxing.
For more information about classes at the Academy give us a call (905-278-7234) to get started!