What age should kids start martial arts?

family karate classes

When to begin martial arts classes

Toddlers should begin martial arts classes as soon as he or she is out of diapers. Seriously. If the purpose is to instill a sense of sharing, taking turns, and a sense of satisfaction from real achievement, then the younger the better. That’s what martial arts classes for toddlers should emphasize and instill.


Won’t my child get hurt?

At the pre-school age, martial arts is more of a character building class. Typically classes for this age group should be no more than 30 – 40 minutes. Curriculum should involve games and drills with a purpose. It should not look like Romper Room, but it should not involve sparring or hands-on self-defense either. A disciplined class with less than 5 children will significantly reduce any chance of injury. Your toddler may get hurt feelings from a lesson learned, but that may be a part of the growing process.

Where can my preschooler go for martial arts lessons?

I will first refer you to a previous post about How to Choose a Martial Arts School.  Following that, here are some questions to ask:

  • Do they teach toddlers, 2-1/2  years to 4? If the answer is yes, the next questions are:
    • Are the toddlers in their own age appropriate class? Hopefully the answer is yes, and the oldest child is 4 to 4-1/2 years old.
    • How many kids are in the class? This is where ratio is not as important as the total number of little ones. One instructor with perhaps an older student helper and 5 kids is a nice size.
    • Who teaches the classes? It is not unusual for a higher-ranking adult student to teach toddler classes. Don’t always expect a black belt or Master Instructor. And if you do find a class taught by a highly qualified martial arts, that’s a great bonus!
    • What is being taught to the kids? The appropriate answers would include a lot of character building with minimal emphasis on martial arts technique. Minimal does not mean absent – an introduction to the art form is important because it will probably involve memorizing and repetition. Great for developing minds!

At The Bushido School of Karate we started our toddler classes way back in 2000. Our Little Eagles Martial Arts program is still being taught today by the original instructor, Sensei E. Schwartz, in our White Plains, N.Y. karate studio.  With almost 2 decades of development behind Little Eagles Martial Arts, we started filming those classes.  Editing them into very short clips, we made them available online to help and inspire professional martial artists in their own toddler program.  Find ideas for keeping toddlers excited and interested .  Check out how they are learning their alphabet and learning to take turns while reciting the letters. The videos are  available to the public and can be used by anyone – no experience required!

I hope this post was a decent guide for you when deciding the best  martial arts school to help your little one flourish!


The premier program to introduce toddlers to martial arts



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