What Age Should a Child Start Martial Arts?

What Age Should a Child Start Martial Arts?

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The popularity of martial arts is growing day by day. More and more parents are deciding to enroll their child into the martial arts. The most common question parents have in the process is at what age should their child start martial arts?

General consensus is that a child at the age of three or four years can start with martial arts. But, it depends on a lot of things, the main being how quickly is your child growing up and how developed your childs is in terms of motor skills.

Every martial art has its rules, necessary equipment, and certain predispositions of athletes such as age or skill. To help you and your child make the best decision for both of you, keep reading to find out more about the benefits of early martial arts training and all its hows and whys.

What Is the Best Age to Start with Martial Arts?

In case your kid wants to become a professional MMA fighter, it is often recommended to start training between 13 and 16 years of age. 

That is the best time for the young body to train seriously, multiple times a week, to change dietary habits, and learn how to use the body without inflicting damage. Those individuals should start from already having experience with some sports and fitness.

Younger children can start training at the age of 5, but note that there will be no fighting for them for a long time! Karate, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, and Jiu-Jitsu are options for younger children.

Be sure to check out our detailed guides about Taekwondo for kids, and Muay Thai for kids.

Children are mostly taught how to stand properly to achieve balance and to become aware of their bodies. They will also learn moves used in fighting, but no worries – they will be taught choreographies without being tackled by their opponent.

Martial arts teach discipline, respect, and patience. Those are the things children often struggle with due to their age and vision of the world. If your son or daughter could start learning something that important and still have fun, wouldn’t you sign them up today?

If you have a child that is three or less years old, be sure to check out our article about martial arts for toddlers.

Are Martial Arts Dangerous for Kids?

It is important to know the difference between professionals to be and trainees who do not yet actually fight. Younger children will not be put in situations that are dangerous for them. This is why it is crucial they first learn their moves and know their bodies before any fighting. 

Children are often unaware of their strength and may have trouble expressing themselves calmly if angry or upset. What martial arts teach them is exactly how to do that – if they lose their cool, they could get hurt. When talking about injuries, we are talking about scraped knees and some bruises from improper falling or going against instructions. 

Your child will not be left alone or require to fight without learning the basics first. By the time they learn, they will be ready. The instructor needs to make sure children are safe at all times, as well as promote the idea that fighting is the last resort when it comes to arguments in general. 

In case of an injury or any discomfort that might be overwhelming, your child has the right to stop and will be taken care of. As a parent, you need to make sure your child is recognized as an individual and approached with the same respect that is expected of them.

Since your kid needs to be protected from more serious injuries, you will need to invest in equipment that can be found in most sports stores or online. Don’t be fooled by the prices, not everything is better if it is more expensive. 

What Equipment Does Your Child Need for Martial Arts?

How to ensure your child’s safety and not spend too much? Fightwear shop (1) and Combat sports (2) are online options for busy parents! If you are looking for the best Taekwondo equipment, visit our article on the link.

And here is the list you can take with you on your next trip to the store:


Make sure your kid has enough t-shirts and pants for training. It is best to wear something tighter to eliminate injuries caused by getting tangled in your clothes. 

Consider rash guards – clothes made of spandex and nylon that are comfortable and move with the body. A simple rashguard like this will suit your child perfectly.

Depending on the classes, your child may need a kimono.

If your studio has showers your child will be using, it is necessary to wear flip flops or something similar to avoid transmission of bacteria. Remember that possible skin conditions can be worse than broken bones!

Depending on the discipline and flooring, your child might need wrestling shoes so ask the instructor for information. Here are one of the most popular wrestling shoes for kids. They are perfectly suitable for kids from 4 to 12 years old and the price is really nice also.


Gloves – find gloves that protect wrists along with fists and ALWAYS try them on first! Here is our recommendation for gloves for your child.

Mouthguard – as soon as your child starts training with a partner, it is necessary to protect their teeth and tongue. This type of mouthguard is by far the most popular and practical amongst the children. Be sure to check it out if needed!

Shin and groin protectors – shins are very resistant but often targetted in martial arts disciplines. Your child will not be allowed to use the leg kick above the waist at first, so legs will be the primal target!


A sports bag will be needed to carry what you just bought! Your child might need some extra support on wrists or ankles, so pay attention to possible injuries from the past. 

Head guard may be needed as well, contact your instructor to see if it is necessary. This is the head guard we recommend. Ear guard is also a piece of equipment often used, optional, but helpful.

Make sure your child has a bottle of water every single time they go to practice. 

How Often Should Kids Train?

Consider your kid’s age. The formula often used in recommendations is no more than 1hr/year/week. It may sound complicated but it is very simple! A child who is 6 years old should not train more than 6 hours per week. 

This is the limit, but most sports have classes three times a week, often one hour a day plus competitions and tournaments. Keep in mind your child may need more rest than you thought!

Make sure your child has a free day! Use this time for other hobbies and quality time. Try to make training fun, allow your kid to practice on their own when they wish to do so, or just show you what they learned. 

Can Kids Learn Martial Arts at Home?

To answer simply: no. 

Nowadays you can find tutorials for anything on the internet. While you can learn basic stands, learn about nutrition, or learn from someone’s mistakes, you cannot achieve the same level of success. Why? 

Injuries and mistakes could take place without even being noticed. If someone is not corrected in their mistakes, they will repeat the mistake and learn to do something wrong or possibly dangerous. 

We do, however, encourage reading and watching videos to learn as much as you can about MMA. There is no harm in seeking information. Having an instructor and a partner is important when it comes to contact sports. 

How to Choose the Right Martial Arts Class for Your Child?

Different training is taught in these groups due to the developmental stages of children. 

The youngest groups often focus on gymnastics, basics, and do it playfully. Understanding of calmness and goal of martial arts comes later when children can get a deeper understanding. No contact fighting is taught to the younger groups.

It is up to you and your child to decide on what you are most attracted to. Some of the most popular choices are:

  1. Boxing – your child will learn the basics of boxing and have fun with bag work
  2. Wrestling – to work with a partner and learn how to take him down, try this option
  3. Youth MMA (Boxing, Wrestling, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo) – mixed martial arts are not suitable for youngest children, but can be reached after training one specific discipline of your choice
  4. Kickboxing – there are many combinations and interesting styles your child might want to try with a partner
  5. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – if self-defense and fitness skills are your goals, try BJJ and bring your flexibility and strength on a whole new level
  6. Aikido – include spirituality and harmony as well as body strength
  7. Judo – incorporate an understanding of the self with competing while learning about balance

Here is our full guide for best martial arts for your kid. Be sure to check it out!

Both children and adults can greatly benefit from martial arts. Both the body and the mind are taught discipline and strength. Children are taught self-confidence and control over their bodies, respect for themselves and others, which is very important to experience as soon as possible. Martial arts will not teach your child to fight but to find their purpose within.

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