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10 martial arts disciplines that will change your child's life

Posted November 6

For kids, martial arts training offers a fun way to improve their physical health and agility while they learn useful self-defense skills. It is also likely to aid in the development of their character. Through consistent martial arts training, children will learn to cultivate their self-confidence, discipline and concentration. It also helps develop valuable conflict resolution skills.

The great news is there are several martial arts styles that are well suited for both youngsters and adults. Below is a list of 10 disciplines that may help in narrowing down your selection:

1. Karate

One of the most traditional disciplines on this list, karate, is a Japanese martial arts that is not only popular amongst adults, but also kids of all ages. The word "karate" translates to "empty hand." it is an un-armed combat style that focuses on kicking, striking and blocking with the use of arms and legs.

Though most programs recommend for kids to start at age 8-10, Karatekas can begin training as early as 4 years old. Many parents choose to enroll their kids in karate because it emphasizes teaching respect for others – helping them to become respectful, wholesome individuals during their developmental years.

2. Jujutsu

Loosely translated as "gentle art," jujutsu is an ancient Japanese hand-to-hand combat system that consists of throws and joint locks. Initially developed as one of the foundations of samurai fighting techniques, it emphasizes that force is only to be applied in self-defense.

Jujutsu encourages practitioners to de-escalate confrontation and promotes self-awareness. This is particularly useful as it teaches kids how to effectively determine the appropriate response to an attack/altercation.

3. Aikido

Hailing from Japan, this style dates back from the era of Samurais. It is often considered as a non-violent style as it never uses force to reciprocate force. Instead, it teaches students to use the opponent’s aggressive energy against himself.

Its movements are similar to those found in jujutsu, however, it is gentler and non-competitive. If you’re looking for a discipline that focuses on teaching children how to work well with partners, Aikido may just be the right fit.

4. Kung Fu

Thanks to the global popularity of DreamWork’s animated movie “Kung Fu Panda,” Kung Fu may be the best known discipline amongst kids. Though it is a popular martial arts style today, it is actually one of the world’s oldest.

Kung Fu training is often fast-paced and rigorous. However, it is more fluid than other martial arts styles such as karate. This discipline is ideal for kids who are hyperactive as it will allow them to be physically active yet instilling a sense of calm and patience at the same time.

5. Taekwondo

Originating in Korea, this official Olympic sport is a discipline that emphasizes the use of kicking and punching to energize the body. Taekwondo training often includes practicing sets of sequence of complicated techniques that enables kids not only to become physically stronger but also to improve their mental strength (perseverance, patience, etc.).

Taekwondo also teaches students to use breathing practices and forms as meditation techniques to improve concentration and memory.

6. Judo

Judo focuses on throws that are helpful in developing physical fitness, balance and stamina. Also a part of the Olympic games, it is competitive in nature and emphasizes on taking down the opponent to the ground.

Though training can start at any age, kids under 8 years old are not allowed to compete.

7. Tai Chi

While it’s true that Tai Chi has a reputation as a discipline that is most popular amongst older practitioners, it is also well suited for kids of all ages.

This internal martial arts style is gentle and non-strenuous as it consists of slow repetitive movements, instead of muscle contractions that enable its practitioners to deflect attacks effortlessly. Additionally, Tai Chi promotes deep breathing and emphasizes balance, which effectively boosts flexibility and improves focus

8. (American) Kenpo

Also referred to as Kenpo Karate, (American) Kenpo originated in Hawaii and is a modern hybrid martial arts that combines techniques found in several other martial arts styles.

Emphasizing fast hand techniques and lower body kicks, Kenpo is predominantly used as a self-defense system that can be easily applied in real life situations. That said, Kenpo programs for children generally focus on teaching broader movements and creating opportunities to escape conflict rather to inflict harm to the attacker.

9. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

This martial arts style combines moves found in Judo and Japanese JuJutsu. Developed by the Gracie family, a prominent Brazilian martial arts family, it was created as an effective form of self-defense against larger sized adversaries, making it ideal for smaller kids. However, it is recommended that they should reach age 8 before they start competing.

BJJ has enjoyed rapid worldwide growth in popularity for the past decade and it has become easier than ever to find classes and programs suitable for adults and kids alike.

11. Tang Soo Do

A Korean martial arts discipline, Tang Soo Do combines techniques found in Shotokan Karate, Subak, Taekkyon and Kung Fu. Since it is taught as an art rather than as a sport, it is not competitive and is ideal for kids age 4 and up.

Tang Soo Do teaches students how to master their own bodies instead of focusing on defeating their opponent. Sparring, in this case, is primarily used as a means for its practitioners to help one another in perfecting their techniques.

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