Taekwondo for Kids: Benefits, Safety, and Everything Else You Should Know


Taekwondo for Kids: Benefits, Safety, and Everything Else You Should Know

Today, we are going to discuss the benefits of Taekwondo for children and everything related to Taekwondo, the most famous Korean martial art, and children. We’ve already discussed how some other martial arts (Muay Thai for children) benefit children and how they can train them, so this is a continuation of that series of articles, focusing specifically on Taekwondo. It is a very good martial for children because if you start early, you can learn the basics very quickly and rapidly advance up the ladder and achieve your belt promotions.

Taekwondo is very suitable for kids because it’s very flexible and adaptable, meaning that it will not unnecessarily force and strain your children, but will rather train them slowly so that they enjoy the training sessions.

Now, let us see how it all works. 

What Is Taekwondo?

The martial art of Taekwondo (alternatively spelled Tae Kwon Do or Taekwon-Do) is of South Korean origin, dating from the 1940s, i.e. shortly after the conclusion of World War II. The art has its origins in Japanese and Chinese martial arts, but is today a clearly distinct art and sport in itself. It was originally called Tae Soo Do (or Tae Su Do), which is a phrase that consisted of the words “to stomp” (Korean: 跆 tae), “hand” (Korean: 手 su), and “way, discipline” (Korean: 道 do). However, South Korean general and martial artist, Choe Hong-hui, advocated a different etymology, replacing the word “hand” with the word “fist” (Korean: 拳 kwon or gwon), thus creating the modern name of South Korea’s most famous martial art.

Taekwondo is characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques. In fact, World Taekwondo sparring competitions award additional points for strikes that incorporate spinning kicks, kicks to the head, or both. To facilitate fast, turning kicks, Taekwondo generally adopts stances that are narrower and taller than the broader, wide stances used by martial arts such as karate. The tradeoff of decreased stability is believed to be worth the commensurate increase in agility, particularly in Kukkiwon-style Taekwondo. Along with this, Taekwondo also has forms (like kata in karate), which are divided into hyeong, poomsae and teul.

The basics of Taekwondo aren’t overly difficult, but since the martial art has a lot of profound philosophical elements, it is not easy to master all the moves and techniques as they become more complex and artistic. Plus, as you advance, you have to dig deeper into the philosophy of Taekwondo and not just practice and repeat the fighting techniques. So, we’d say that Taekwondo is not that difficult, but it becomes more complex as you advance and enlarge your knowledge of the martial art.

What Age Can Your Kid Start Taekwondo?

The question of age in martial arts in general is very specific. It is advised to start off as early as possible, but some martial arts aren’t really that suited for younger children. Luckily, Taekwondo is not one of them. Although a lot of it will depend on the school and the instructors – since there are no fixed rules or limits, each school can have its own set of rules when it comes to age – Taekwondo is generally suited for younger children. 

We cannot state a precise age – a lot depends on the child as well – but we can generally state that even pre-school children can easily start with Taekwondo training sessions. Of course, this means that you can start off even in your teens or later, but the chances of a good professional career decrease as you get older.

Younger children have adapted training programmes and it is easier for them to achieve belt promotions, meaning that a pre-schooler might reach the red or the black belt in his early teens, which is a great achievement. 

Is Taekwondo Safe or Dangerous for Kids?

Although the question of children practicing martial arts might raise some concerns (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/martial-arts-can-pose-serious-dangers-for-kids/), the fact is that most martial arts who have a well-adapted programme for children are in fact safe. Taekwondo is certainly amongst these martial arts and is one of the best suited martial arts for children.

Since Taekwondo has three elements of training – basic elements, sparring and forms – it is easy to devise a plan for children. What you need to know first is that children do not spar, which means that the risk of injury is minimal. Sparring is practiced by older trainees, who also wear protective armour, which means that the contact between children in Taekwondo is minimal. 

What children practice are the basic elements (this mostly includes technical aspects of different kicks and punches, but which are practiced either on a bag or using some other utensil) and the forms, which prepares them for a future application of those elements. Children are taught the technical side of Taekwondo, but younger groups usually combine new things with games, which is why it is necessary to have a good instructor.

At such an early age, it is important to have fun alongside learning new things, which means that the instructors will usually combine teaching with educational and recreational exercises that will develop a fondness for Taekwondo in the children. 

What Are the Benefits of Taekwondo for Kids?

Now, let us examine some of the major benefits of Taekwondo for the youngest practitioners:

1. It is great for children!

One of the best things about Taekwondo is that it’s very broad and includes a lot of techniques, which means that anyone – even the youngest of children – can find something that fits them. Taekwondo has three basic elements that it teaches its practitioners, which means that whether you prefer to just learn the technical aspects, you want to fight or master the forms – you’ll certainly find something that suits your interests and preferences.

Also, because of this width, they can be practiced by practically anyone, even children. The general benefits of sports for children are well known, but since Taekwondo teaches so much more, it is pretty clear why it is so beneficial for children. It’s also good because you can adapt your training according to your preferences and it doesn’t matter at what age you start, because it’s never too late to do it. 

2. Effectiveness and realism

Taekwondo is not that diversified as some other martial arts (e.g. kung fu or karate), but it is exactly because of that, that Taekwondo is more realistic and can prepare you for more real-life situations, especially if you start off early and master things quickly (children are known to learn much faster and can master some techniques quicker due to their bodies being more flexible).

You probably won’t, for example, enter into a real-life situation where you’ll use your Taekwondo skills in the same way you’ve used them during practice, but, the other hand, Taekwondo has so many different situations and techniques that it can prepare you, even imitate a real-life situation better than a lot of other martial arts.

Since it prepares you for a real-life situation, it is certainly more effective than some other similar disciplines. This is important for children because they will learn to apply their knowledge from an earlier age. 

3. Full-body workout

Taekwondo is not just a good fighting preparation, it also great for workout and we all know how workout is important for children and their development. Since Taekwondo has a lot of techniques that activate your whole body, it’s only logical that Taekwondo provides an excellent full-body workout for your child.

They will activate and engage every part of a child’s body – from head to toe – and will burn at least 1,000 calories per a one-hour session for you (depending on the art)! This is especially important if your child is overweight. 

4. Self-defense

Although self-defence is – directly or indirectly – a part of a vast majority of combat sports and martial arts, the latter usually offer a more precise, complete and focused approach to self-defence than the former (with some exceptions). Taekwondo is no exception and we think that it is extremely important for children to know how to defend themselves from an early age.

Due to the fact that Taekwondo relies heavily on a complete combat philosophy, it will teach you a lot of different defensive (and offensive) techniques, which means that you can learn a variety of different self-defence techniques by training Taekwondo.

If you relate this aspect to the one mentioned in point 2, you will quickly deduce that the realism of Taekwondo is an excellent addition to the self-defence techniques you’ll certainly want to learn, because – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The good thing is that Taekwondo is also adapted for children in this aspect also, meaning that children will learn simpler self-defence techniques before moving on to more complex ones at a later stage.

If you are looking at which martial art is best for your kids when it comes to self-defense, be sure to check out our article about the best martial arts for self-defense.

5. Strength

Due to the fact that Taekwondo can be both demanding and physically straining (keeping in mind the fact that it is adapted for younger in children), along with the fact that most children start off slowly and then work until they reach the desired level, we can conclude that Taekwondo will certainly elevate your child’s strength, along with other things.

Taekwondo is good because it enables you to work and upgrade a child’s strength in a relatively short period of time. So, if you think it is good for your child to become stronger, while also enjoying and learning new things, Taekwondo is definitely something you should consider for them.

6. Competitiveness

Although your child doesn’t have to become a professional fighter, Taekwondo will certainly try to increase your child’s competitive spirit and if you allow it to do so, it will succeed. Taekwondo is generally very competitive and that kind of spirit doesn’t come just with professional fighting. It comes from the beginning, from the starting point of a Taekwondo career – the training arena.

So, whether you want it or not, Taekwondo will train your child to want to be better, to actually be better. Of course, it’s up to them how they’re going to use that competitive spirit – they can become pros or just recreational sportsmen later on – but their competitive spirit will certainly increase and you can easily translate that into other fields of life. 

7. Respect

Although Taekwondo is, like a lot of other martial arts, usually perceived as aggressive, brutal and vulgar, with a lot of trash talking, it actually teaches you how to respect your opponent and the rules of the game, which is especially typical for most Oriental martial arts, including Taekwondo. To be frank, this is a thing all combat sports and, as we’ve said, Taekwondo especially, have, but even if it doesn’t look like it – Taekwondo will certainly teach you respect.

Respect is very important in Taekwondo. You have to respect your coach, your opponent, your rules and you will never become a good and well-respected fighter until you give the necessary respect to others. You can see how it can positively influence your child in this aspect.

8. Problem Solving

Interestingly enough, Taekwondo can be just as effective as chess in some specific aspects. Well, it won’t stimulate your child’s brain the same way, but Taekwondo is a very unpredictable discipline that requires concentration and constant mental activity.

You have to watch out for your opponent, you have to apply an adequate tactical approach and you have to know how to get out of a tight spot. Certainly, your child’s physical predispositions will be more important, but brute force won’t get them very far if they’re fighting an intelligent opponent who knows how to play to his strengths and to your weaknesses. 

9. Confidence

Building on point 8, it has to be said that Taekwondo will also increase your child’s confidence. Confidence usually comes from self-satisfaction and by elevating your stamina, your physique and your boldness, Taekwondo will raise your child’s confidence to new levels. After seeing what they can do in the gym and during training sessions, they will use the newly found energy in all other aspects of their lives, so it’s not surprising that Taekwondo has its psychological benefits as well. 

10. New Skills

Taekwondo will teach your child something new. Your child will probably start off now knowing anything about Taekwondo in martial arts in general, and while the complexity and diversity of Taekwondo may seem a bit too much for a child, the art will always allow them to learn something new, no matter what, because it offers a lot when technique and combat are concerned.

This is also another psychological benefit of Taekwondo, but it can be related to several aforementioned points. So, if you want your children to broaden their horizons and learn something new, Taekwondo will certainly give them enough material to do exactly that, so don’t hesitate and use it to your advantage. 

11. Socialisation

Although you probably won’t enrol your child into Taekwondo to find new friends, it’s one of those benefits that comes with the programme, whether you want it or not. Although most things are done alone or one-on-one, training sessions are usually done in groups; plus, you’ll always meet new people in the gym.

So, with everything going on, your child will learn how to be a part of a larger, new group of people who share the same interest and passions as them, and that is always a good thing. 

12. Stress

Although children aren’t that subjected to stress as working adults, school and other real-life problems could cause them to be in a bad mood or feel down. This is where Taekwondo steps in, as its training programme and all the afore mentioned points, will help your child to relax and enjoy the time spent in a training session.

What Equipment Do Kids Need for Taekwondo?

Although Taekwondo has a lot of equipment and sparring usually demands several different pieces, children don’t need that much. Some schools are liberal and don’t demand any specific equipment for children, but in case your child needs some equipment, you’ll usually have to buy a dobok (the official uniform) a belt and – perhaps – a pair of gym shoes; and that’s it.

This equipment doesn’t cost that much, so you won’t have to buy a lot of things for your child. The sparring armour and additional elements necessary for competitive Taekwondo aren’t used by children so you won’t have to buy them initially. 

Be sure to check out our full taekwondo equipment guide. We mentioned everything you should have when you start with taekwondo.

Well, that covers the basics of Taekwondo for children. If you want to know more about the world of martial arts, follow us and see you next time.

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