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 seem 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 social background in which their son is growing: if the most popular sport of the country they live in is volleyball (I am using volleyball as an example), their son will be tremendously influenced, no matter how hard you try to keep your child away from influences that might interfere with you intention to see him practicing the style that, in your opinion, is the right for him.
Cultural influence is something that will distract your son wherever he goes: in fact, he will always feel the passive impulse to follow that popular sport, unless he is big enough to make a decision on his own; however, this can only occur later in life.
Not just Martial Arts
Martial Arts to children should be presented as a comprehensive set of activities – not just one – in order for them to develop a solid physical basis and, at the same time, enjoying (and experimenting) many other different sports that can simultaneously improve them as a “versatile child”. In fact, Martial Arts for children should be introduced to them as sport activities, just as much as football or basketball, and slowly turned into “arts based on discipline and commitment” at a later and gradual stage.
A dream coming true. For the Father, not for his 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 constant support and dedication, their son might become the next generation martial arts superstar: in this case we want to take the freedom to speak frankly to these type of parent:
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 and ego-free, 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 general 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 on, although his commitment may be floating and not consistent, as nowadays too many are the hobbies and interests kids can choose.
- PHASE 3: Martial Arts as a way to forge Mind and Body for the rest of their 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 results (tournaments, commendations during class, etc…) leading him to grow a higher self esteem. However, consider that he might be motivated purely by the desire of competing and or winning rather than embracing the full martial arts credo and its values, as he is still a kid, and therefore prone to prove his skills by competing.
One thing that should never be forgotten
You can be the most skilled parent in giving your son the most accurate martial-based path for making him – or hoping to – follow the martial preparation you always wanted for him, however our most sincere advice, in the end, is to trust this old Chinese saying that goes:
If it’s your fate that something shall happen, it will. If it’s not, it won’t