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Teaching Kids Martial Arts – Best Age to Start?

Posted by Guest Author On July - 27 - 2009

Parents are always asking “When is the best time to start their kids in a Martial Art”… the answer is always NOW, as soon as they show any interest in learning.  Obviously most instructors don’t want to be teaching lessons to 2 year olds so the youngest age of most schools to start teaching kids martial arts is around 5yo.

Although most Martial Art Instructors don’t want to teach one, two or three year olds, they generally start their own children as soon as they can stand on their own two feet.Just jump on youtube and you can find proud parents showing their toddlers picking up boxing gloves and having a go or trying to get their Mum or Dad in an armbar.Kids that are raised in a Martial Arts Family will always have an opportunity of advantage.Physical Exercise and martial Art Training is seen as a normal way of life.

I remember once being at my instructors house and we were sparring hard, groin shots, takedowns, chokes were all happening and then we see his 3yo daughter walk casually past us while we’re rolling on the ground, she climbs up onto the swing, gets it going and yells out “look at me Daddy,  look at me”

Seeing her Dad knocking around with friends was just a typical weekend.i think most “normal” kids would be worried about their dad passing out due to a rear naked chock but not this girl… she is now a brown belt and even though she is one of the smaller kids she always hits the target (normally my groin) and hits it harder than average, then giggles as she walks away.

The intro of this article has taken a small detour but my point is the younger kids start learning the better they will be when they are older.  I’m not just talking about teaching kids martial arts, but also Flexibility, Focus, Strength and Conditioning.

I’m sure I’ll upset a bunch of people by saying that fat lazy kids really annoy me, but that’s how I am.I don’t blame the young kids because I think it’s the parents fault by not showing them a better lifestyle.Kids follow the examples they see and find a leader to imitate.I’m not saying that a Martial Arts Instructor should be expected to take on the responsibility of teaching kids to be fit,healthy students, but if they are already coming to you then why not do it as a bonus.See it as a privilege to start them in the right direction.The things that you can teach them will not only benefit them but everyone around them.

So what do I mean by Exploding/Explosive kids?

Kids excel at things they enjoy so it’s important to show them ways to build their Strength, their Fitness and their Flexibility safely and in a variety of fun ways.

When it comes to Muscle, tendon, and Ligament Strength you have to be careful.Using heavy weights is not recommended because if the kids are not properly supervised at all time they can use bad form while lifting and cause damage to developing bones, tendons and joints…. BUT there are plenty of exercises that they can do simply using their own bodyweight.

There are three great advantages to body weight exercises:

1.       No-one has to pay for any equipment

2.       The Kids bodyweight is the perfect weight for them to train with

3.       Most exercises can be done anywhere at any time

Body weight exercises also use a lot of core muscles and compound muscle groups.The use of higher reps and the explosive nature of these exercises create great cardio endurance and explosive speed and power.  These are all the important things a fighter needs.

So “When is the best time to start teaching kids Strength, Conditioning and Flexibility”… NOW!!!

The basic exercises for core strength are push-ups, squats, dips, chin-ups and then add bridging which will strengthen the neck and back.Don’t just do the boring old basics of these exercises, mix things up and teach the kids new ways to do them, for example in the push-up category you have: standard, wide, narrow, diamonds, wide-narrow, armpit push-ups, robots, clappers, high-lows, hovers… Show the kids some fun variations and make games out of them.

I find it a little daunting to see how strong the young kids will be when they become teenagers.Imagine fighting with an 18yo that’s been doing 100-200 push-ups, sit-ups and squats everyday for the past 14 years.

My final words of advice, Make sure you also do these exercises or one day they will be bigger and stronger than you… hold on to your advantage as long as you can.

I wish you all the best with your teaching and training

Regards

A.J.Perry – Author of “Martial Games for Kids

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