Top 15 Martial Arts for Kids of All Ages

Martial arts are a great way to get your children into shape while teaching them discipline and self-defense. So if you are looking for a way to teach your child how to defend themselves, these martial arts will do the trick!

Martial arts can teach essential life skills such as respect and handling victory and defeat. If you think your child might be interested in trying martial arts, the best way to find out is to visit a local gym and observe a session. 

This will allow you to see firsthand what the training is like and whether or not your child would enjoy it. Most importantly, talk to your child and ask if they want to try martial arts.


Karate is a great martial art for kids of all ages. It is a relatively non-violent form of self-defense that teaches discipline and respect. Karate is also a great way to get your child into shape, requiring a lot of physical activity. 

Many Karate styles differ based on your wants and needs. If your focus is self-defense, a style like Shotokan or Kyokushin might be a good choice. If you’re interested in competition, styles like Wado-Ryu or Shito-Ryu might be better options.

Ultimately, the best style of Karate is the one you enjoy the most and can stick with long-term. Many Karate gyms welcome and have dedicated classes for younger children. So if you have a younger child, they will feel right at home.


Judo is another excellent martial art for kids. Judo focuses on throws and takedowns. This can come in handy if your child ever finds themselves in a situation where they need to defend themselves. Judo is also a great workout, as it requires a lot of strength and coordination.

Judo is excellent since it teaches you how to use your opponents’ clothing and weight to your advantage. Grappling-based martial arts like wrestling, Judo, Sambo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focus on taking an opponent to the ground and controlling them there.

This contrasts striking-based martial arts like boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai, which mainly focus on stand-up striking. Both types of martial arts are effective in their own right. Grappling-based martial arts tend to be more effective in close-quarters combat situations.

These situations can be when two opponents are fighting at close range. This is because grappling techniques allow you to control your opponent’s body. This helps you limit their ability to strike back or move away from you.

Judo is also unique in that it is one of the few martial arts that does not require any specific equipment. This makes it an ideal martial art for anyone who wants to learn self-defense without investing in expensive gear. You need only a Judo Gi (uniform), and you’re good to go.

Many practitioners of Judo start out young. Judo will teach your child how to fall down properly. This skill can be invaluable in many situations during their life. 


Aikido is a martial art that emphasizes joint locks and throws. Aikido is performed by blending with an attacker’s motion and redirecting the attack’s force rather than opposing it head-on. This requires very little physical strength, as the aikidoka (aikido practitioner) “leads” the attacker’s momentum using entering and turning movements. 

Aikido can be categorized under soft style martial arts. It focuses more on using an attacker’s energy and momentum against them rather than opposing it with one’s own force. The techniques are completed with various throws or joint locks.

It is a great way to teach your child how to control an opponent without causing them serious harm. Aikido is also relatively non-violent, which makes it an ideal martial art for younger children. However, as your child grows, we recommend signing them up in more practical martial art. 


Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that has become increasingly popular recently. It is known for its impressive kicking techniques and emphasis on speed and agility. Taekwondo is an excellent form of exercise for children, as it helps to develop coordination and balance.

It also provides a great workout. In addition, taekwondo can teach children discipline and self-control.  Your child will learn outstanding balance and become coordinated. This is great since coordination will play an essential role during their lifetime.

Taekwondo will also serve as a great starting point for other athletic activities. For example, suppose your child wants to try out for a soccer team. In that case, the footwork and coordination they learn in taekwondo will give them a significant advantage.

Taekwondo is more than just learning how to fight; it is also about developing character. The values of respect, discipline, and self-control are emphasized in taekwondo training. These are values that will benefit your child throughout their life.

Enrolling your child in taekwondo classes is a great way to give them a head start. It is an investment in their future.

Muay Thai 

As your child gets older, you may want to consider enrolling them in a more intense martial art like Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. These martial arts are more physically demanding. These will teach your child how to effectively strike and grapple their opponents.

Muay Thai is a striking-based martial art that uses punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. It is an excellent way to get your child into shape, as it requires a lot of cardio and muscular endurance. Muay Thai is also great for developing power and speed.


There are many reasons why boxing is suitable for older children. It can help them build confidence, discipline, and respect. Boxing can be an excellent way for older children to learn self-defense and build character.

Boxing is one of the main building blocks of striking-based martial arts. Boxing can teach your child how to stay calm under pressure, think before acting, and defend themselves effectively if the need ever arises.

In addition to teaching your child practical self-defense skills, boxing can also be an excellent way to get some exercise and blow off steam. Boxing is a perfect workout to help your child build strength, stamina, and coordination.

Boxing can be quite tough and dangerous, and there are numerous injuries that can be extremely important to be aware of. However, if your child wants to compete one day, it’s better to start training in boxing early on. Many famous boxers started training only when they were six years old.


Kickboxing is an excellent way for older children to stay active and improve their fitness levels. It is also a perfect way to relieve stress and boost self-confidence. Classes typically involve punching and kicking pads or bags, as well as basic footwork and body movement drills.

Most courses will also incorporate cardio exercises to increase the heart rate. Your child might even develop an interest in competing in kickboxing competitions as they get older.

Many kickboxers start training at the age of 12 or 13. Some people believe that kickboxing is too dangerous for children this young. Still, with proper supervision and safety gear, kickboxing can be an excellent way for kids to exercise and learn self-defense.

Kickboxing is a good way for kids to get exercise and learn self-defense. Kickboxing can help teach kids discipline, respect, and teamwork. It can also give them a sense of accomplishment and boost their self-confidence.

With proper supervision and safety gear, kickboxing can be an excellent way for kids to stay active and learn how to defend themselves. For more info about differences between striking martial arts like Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Kickboxing, etc, ensure to read our next article.

Freestyle Wrestling 

Children often become interested in more formalized wrestling styles as they grow older. Styles such as freestyle and Greco-Roman. These styles are typically practiced in organized competitions. Competitions such as those by the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA).

While there are some differences between these two styles, both involve grappling and using various holds. Freestyle wrestling is the most common form practiced in the United States. In freestyle wrestling, competitors can use their legs to take down opponents and perform throws.

Points can be scored by pinning an opponent to the mat or forcing them out of the ring. Freestyle wrestling is excellent for a little bit older children (8+). It will make them strong. It will teach them how to properly land when falling to the ground. It will also make them explosive and great athletes.

In addition, grappling-based martial arts tend to be more effective against larger opponents. This is because the techniques used in grappling can help you take down a larger opponent by using their own body weight against them.

Greco-Roman Wrestling 

Greco-Roman wrestling is the other main style practiced in the United States. In Greco-Roman wrestling, competitors cannot use their legs to defeat opponents. This means much of the action takes place on the mat, as wrestlers try to force each other into a pinning position.

Points can be scored by forcing an opponent out of the ring or submitting them to hold. While freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling can be practiced by children of all ages, most organized competitions are divided into different age groups.

For example, the AAU has divisions for wrestlers aged 6-8, 8-10, 10-12, and so on. This ensures that wrestlers of similar sizes and abilities are matched against each other.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling-based martial art focusing on takedowns, throws, and submissions. BJJ is an excellent way to teach your child how to control an opponent on the ground. It is also a great workout, as it requires a lot of strength and coordination.

BJJ is quite complex and has many things that need to be learned properly. Therefore we recommend that your child be at least 12 years old. As your child starts training BJJ, their confidence will grow. They will be able to learn more complex techniques and submissions. 

However, many high-level BJJ practitioners started way earlier. The Mendes brothers began when they were four years old and are now some of the best grapplers in the world. If you have a child younger than 12, we recommend you bring them to one of our Fundamental classes.

In these classes, your child will learn the basic techniques of BJJ in a safe and fun environment. Grappling-based martial arts are often more versatile than striking-based martial arts. This is because they can be used for both offensive and defensive purposes.

For example, you can use grappling techniques to takedown an opponent and then submit them, or you can use grappling techniques to defend yourself against an opponent’s strikes.


I believe kids shouldn’t start training in MMA before they turn 15 years old due to several factors. Here are some things to consider before your teenager begins training in MMA. MMA differs from many other martial arts due to its whole contact nature.

The potential for serious injury is always present. It’s essential to make sure your teenager is physically and mentally prepared before allowing them to begin training. Additionally, MMA is a commitment, not something that should be entered into lightly. Be sure your teenager understands the demands of the sport before beginning training.

Before beginning MMA training, you must ensure your teenager is mentally prepared for what lies ahead. The competition can be intense, and the training can be grueling. MMA can also be an emotional undertaking. Teens who aren’t emotionally ready for MMA may struggle in the sport.

Unlike many other martial arts, MMA is mainly practiced by somewhat older athletes. The average age of MMA fighters is 28, which means that most of the athletes your teenager will be training with will be adults. It’s essential to make sure your teenager is comfortable in this environment before beginning training.

Additionally, MMA is a very male-dominated sport. While there are more and more female fighters every year, they still make up a small minority of the athletes competing in MMA. This can be an intimidating environment for teenage girls. It’s essential to make sure they are comfortable before beginning training.

MMA can be a gratifying experience for teenage athletes. However, it’s essential to consider all factors before allowing your teenager to begin training. 

Combat Sambo 

Combat Sambo is a Russian martial art and combat sport. It arose from the need for the Soviet military to have a hand-to-hand combat system. Unlike Olympic Judo, Sport Sambo allows various types of leg locks, as well as chokes and other submissions usually banned in Judo.

Today, Combat Sambo is practiced in various forms all over the world. In Russia and some other former Soviet republics, it is often taught alongside police and military training. Elsewhere, it is primarily practiced in sports clubs.

Sport Sambo matches are similar to judo matches. They are contested on a mat, and victory can be achieved by submission, knockout, or judges’ decisions.

Combat Sambo is an interesting martial art for kids because it focuses on practical self-defense techniques. These techniques can be used in real-world situations. It is also a great way to get kids interested in martial arts from a young age.

If you want to know all the differences between all grappling martial arts, check the next article about the differences between BJJ, Judo, Sambo, etc.

Vale Tudo 

Vale Tudo is a Brazilian martial art that means “anything goes .” It is a full-contact sport that allows punches, kicks, elbows, knees, and takedowns. Vale Tudo is excellent for older kids/teenagers looking for a more challenging and intense martial art.

Vale Tudo is also a great way to get in shape and learn self-defense. The only problem you might have is finding Vale Tudo gyms since they are rare. Vale Tudo is primarily practiced in South America. 

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is a self-defense system initially developed for the Israeli military. It is now used by civilians and law enforcement personnel around the world. Krav Maga is known for its focus on practicality and effectiveness. It is a highly effective system that can be used by people of all ages, sizes, and abilities.

Krav Maga is an ideal self-defense system for children because it teaches them how to defend themselves in realistic situations. Children who learn Krav Maga will be better prepared to handle bullying, assaults, and other violent encounters.

Krav Maga also teaches children to be aware of their surroundings and avoid potentially dangerous situations.


Lethwei is a Burmese martial art considered the most brutal stand-up fighting style. Lethwei uses only the hands, feet, elbows, knees, and headbutt as weapons. There are no rules in Lethwei, and it is known for being a bloody sport.

Lethwei is not for the faint of heart and is definitely not for everyone. If you are looking for a martial art that is brutal, bloody and has few rules, then Lethwei is the sport for you. We wouldn’t honestly recommend signing your child up for Lethwei classes. 

But if you are looking for a martial art that is genuinely unique, Lethwei is worth checking out. If your child is okay with a bit of blood and wants to learn a martial art that is different from the rest, Lethwei could be perfect for them. Just make sure they know what they are getting into before signing up!

As your children get older, they will have to practice and dedicate themselves more. The older they get, the better the competition will be. If your child hopes to make it one day as a professional fighter, they will have to start competing in tournaments.

Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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