What is the best age for a child to start Martial Arts?
Generally speaking, after six years-old, everything is good, although the concern in asking What is the best age for a child to start Martial Arts might look the last of a parent’s problem, compared to other factors that may induce your son to stop practicing.
Despite what most people may think, taking a child to a dojo as younger as possible is not always a wise choice. First of all, a family should consider the culture their son will grow in: if the most popular sport of the country they live in is football (I am using football as an example), their son will be extraordinarily influenced, no matter how hard you try to keep your child away from influences that might interfere with you intention of seeing him training the martial style you think to be the best for him.
The influence of culture is something that will distract your son wherever he will go: in fact, he will always feel the push to follow that popular sport, unless he is grown up enough to take a decision on his own, however this can only occur later in life.
Not just Martial Arts. Martial Arts to children should be presented to a kid as a concurrent set of activities – not the only ones – in order for them to develop a solid physical basis while enjoying (and experimenting) many other different sports that can simultaneously improve them as a “versatile child”. In fact, martial arts should be considered sport as much as other activities, before they become “art based on discipline and commitment“.
A dream coming true. For the father, not for the son. Some parents (read: some parents) have this desire of taking their son to a karate or any other martial arts dojo just because they hope that, thanks to their support and dedication, their son might become the next generation martial arts superstar: in this case we wish we could speak freely to these parents:
Do yourself and your son a favor and keep him away from your ego desires.
A dream coming from the heart. If, on the other hand, your objective as a parent is genuine, then you should really consider opening your son up to the way of the warrior and enroll him to a martial arts school, keeping in mind this guideline:
- phase 1: Martial Arts as a playful activity
In this phase, activity is intended solely to allow the kid to familiarize with the basic dynamics of martial arts, while learning through a play-based approach class.
- phase 2: Martial Arts as a method to strengthen a growing personality
In this phase, the kid partially knows what he wants, even if this may be just a way to simulate a particular cartoon hero or movie star. He might not understand the deep meaning of martial arts, or the hard path involved in a serious commitment, but it’s still a good phase to insist in, although his commitment may be floating and not consistent, as nowadays many are the hobbies and the interests kids are constantly urged to commit at.
- phase 3: Martial Arts as a way to forge mind and body for the rest of your life.
In this last phase, the young boy who is already enrolled in a martial art dojo, can be both boosted by a real commitment coming from within, or from a series of successful competitions leading him to grow a higher self esteem. However, consider that he or she might be motivated purely by the desire of competing and or winning rather than embracing the full martial arts credo and its values.
One thing that should never be forgotten. You can be the most skilled parent in giving your son the most accurate martial-based routing for making him – or hoping to make him – following the martial way you always wanted, but our most sincere advice, in the end, is to trust this old Chinese say:
If it’s your fate that something shall happen, it will. If it’s not, it won’t