Which Style is Best for my Child?

One of the most common questions that parents ask when considering enrolling their children in a martial arts program is “Which style is best for my child?” It’s certainly understandable, as there are so many styles to choose from: Taekwondo, Ninjitsu, Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, Kung Fu, Jeet Kun Do, Hapkido, Aikido….the list goes on.

I have had the opportunity to study several styles in thirty years of training, and can honestly say there is no best style. Each style really does have advantages and disadvantages which result from the style’s focus on particular principles or techniques. Taekwondo for example is very focussed on kicking and thus has a great arsenal of kicking techniques. Judo, focusses more on leveraging the opponent’s weight and has very sophisticated ‘wrestling’ techniques. What is best for a particular student can depend on body type, age, experience, and many other factors. The most important factor of course is what the student likes to do and wants to do with the style.

I believe Taekwondo is a great introductory style for students. The basics are easy for young children to learn. The structure allows for a good progression with increasing skills and more complex techniques learned as children progress through levels. At higher levels, advanced Taekwondo techniques include many self defense techniques similar to other styles. Taekwondo also develops leg strength, flexibility, speed and coordination; skills that help in many other sports. There are some styles that are difficult for younger children because of the sophistication they require. I usually don’t recommend very young children focus on styles with many joint locks, as these can be difficult to apply. Although these styles are fantastic for older kids and adults alike.

The best way to decide is to try. We always recommend parents visit the schools they are considering, watch a class, or do a trial. The school and its instructors will often be as important to making a decision as the style. The most important thing is that the child enjoys the training, and the school offers structured skill development, as well lessons in listening, discipline, confidence and positivity. And of course…FUN.