Start Them Young! The Best Age to Start Training for Martial Arts
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I was recently consulted by a young married couple about the possibility of enrolling their child in Martial Arts. A lifelong practitioner myself, they felt confident in getting my advice about the right age to enroll their son.
They were delighted to get my assurance that enrolling their son Justin at the age of five years old would not be too young at all. In fact, it would probably be the best age to get them interested in the sport.
As with other sports, art forms, and skill-based activities, it’s always best to start your child young and fuel their passion at a young age. For one, they’re more physically flexible and mentally fresh if you start them young.
Secondly, if you have any hopes or if they have any interest of elevating to a higher, more competitive, or more professional level, then they would have more time to train and enhance their skills and strength if you enroll them early.
And lastly, it’s undeniable that there are a ton of benefits that your child will enjoy if they take up the sport at a younger age. These will positively impact their lives and shape them growing up once they start.
It teaches discipline, hard work, and responsibility
At this day and age where all a child ever thinks about is Fortnight, taking up martial arts is a welcome change.
It is refreshing to see kids that have the drive to endure the training, physical discomfort and pain, and go through all the trouble to show up and actually attend a class when everything else can be done virtually or through an app.
It’s usually these kids who grow up as devoted martial artists, or at the very least, engrained in their hearts and minds the true persona and virtue of a martial artist. And these are embodied by three things:
Discipline. Hard work. Responsibility.
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Because anyone who decides to take up martial arts will not be able to endure it if they aren’t open to discipline, waking up for training, or enduring long hours of spar sessions.
The mental discipline is also crucial. The commitment to keeping your body healthy and not succumbing to stuff that would make you ill or unhealthy is uncommon these days.
Martial Arts isn’t a walk in the park. A lot of hard work is required, but the results are more than worth it. And isn’t that the same with all things in life? You work hard for something and it will reap the rewards for you. Martial arts isn’t any different.
Though the rewards may not be as tangible as others would expect it to be, bettering yourself and finding a sense of self-fulfillment are more valuable rewards than anything material.
Grandmaster Victor Moore learned Jujitsu at a young age. He recalls, “I learned karate at the age when there was no protective gear”. Take that for an invaluable reward! Having this kind of bragging rights is all that matters.
And what comes out of martial arts? A deep sense of responsibility. By enrolling your child at a young age in martial arts, they will learn not only to be disciplined and work hard, but to take good care of their gear and equipment, show up on time for practice, and be self-reliant in many instances.
Yes, your master will be there to train you, but you cannot always depend on them for your individual growth. They will simply show the way, you have to walk it.
It enhances positive characters to overcome struggles and challenges.
What can be very beneficial for your child at a young age is developing coping mechanisms to help overcome hardships, illnesses, and other challenges in their lives.
I know of so many masters and legends that took up the sport at a young age because they were trying to beat a sickness or difficulty.
Doshu Allan Viernes, had to deal with his severe stuttering, and him learning Martial Arts at a young age helped curbed his condition.
For Master Freddie Lapan, it was her sister’s prodding because it would be good for his ADHD.
Taekwondo Master Fred Forsberg remembers being shy when he was young, and martial arts helped bring out his confidence.
Goju-Ryu Karate Sensei Katie Murphy found out she was tone deaf and she couldn’t really follow music, which meant that she could no longer continue with the ballet lessons that she was enrolled at. So the traditional and modern martial arts were her way of coping with her slight disability.
And not that being female was anything at all like a disability, but somehow it was a welcome relief for women in Martial Arts like Master Liza Jost to be treated with the same level of intensity and seriousness in training. “You’re gonna have to learn to defend yourself if you’re going out there and you’re gonna be a girl,” was the advice that was once given to her.
It can help curb aggressive behaviors early on
Being able to control the primal urge of aggression is quite difficult, especially for men who usually get involved in physically provoking encounters.
Violence is in no way a justifiable means to an end. However, getting bullied and beaten up created that desire in these martial artists to pursue something that they know is greater than them. And martial arts has helped them vent their aggression in a healthy manner by taking up a contact sport.
Sensei Samuel Gagnon’s parents looked for a sport to help control his energy as young as four years old. And Martial Arts was there to be a happy accomplice.
Karateka Eddie Andujar recalls martial arts being an outlet for his anger. Being able to train and burn that negative energy off helped him to become more well-rounded.
Martial arts will be that something that they can run to when times are getting rough. Something that will make them a better person. Not just stronger, swifter, or more skilled. But more patient, disciplined and compassionate.
Martial arts will transform that anger and aggression into something healthy and positive. It can become passion and determination that will fuel you to be the best you can be.
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If you find that age five to seven years old is too young for your child because of the physicality of the sport, think about it in a philosophical sense. Life is a contact sport. Life will get physical on your kid. It will push, kick, and shove your child to the ground.
And if they are too soft or sheltered, they will have a difficult time to endure the hardships of life. They can either become too weak or too entitled. And that’s not what Martial Arts teaches.
Martial Arts doesn’t just improve you physically. It brings out the better – or best – in you.