At what age can kids start karate classes? The simple answer is that most schools begin between ages 3 and 5 years, but SKILLZ of Patchogue classes start as young as 18 months in our Mini SKILLZ mommy and me martial arts program for toddlers.
But, there’s more to it than just opening a class for youngsters.
Karate classes are becoming an ever more popular activity for kids. However, the availability of kids’ martial arts classes is relatively new compared to other activities such as baseball, soccer, or dance. This leaves many parents with questions about what is available or appropriate when looking for a karate school for their children.
In this article, you will learn about some of the different types of programs, how to recognize age-specific martial arts classes and the age at which your child might be able to get started with learning martial arts.
Traditional Martial arts vs Age-Specific Martial Arts for kids
Though martial arts for kids seems the norm nowadays, most martial arts systems were not designed for children. Instead, they were born of a need for defense against armies, warlords, brigands, and even wild animals.
Over time, as these martial arts evolved from generation to generation, the systems became more complex, with added layers of knowledge contributed by each master of the style.
Add in cultural influences, political attempts to standardize a country’s heritage, and even the artistic effects of training in peacetime, and what started out as effective self-defense for adults became a stylized and artistic form of expression.
While kids did train in those harsher times, they often did so as a result of living in an environment that forced kids to grow up very quickly in order to survive.
These days, we live in relatively peaceful neighborhoods, with many of our needs for food, shelter, and safety addressed by a system of laws of social contracts. What was once an art of war is now available as a sport that carries many benefits to the practitioner, such as developing discipline, fitness, a positive mindset, and more.
But, that doesn’t mean that every version of martial arts is developmentally appropriate for kids.
Enter Age-Specific Martial Arts
Most modern martial arts take one of the following approaches to training children:
- Treat them as small adults
- Cut the adult curriculum in half, or into smaller chunks
- Focus on the basics of the art and figure the rest out later.
SKILLZ schools take a different approach. Instead of starting with the adult curriculum and watering it down for the kids, we start with the developmental needs and abilities the typical child has at each age and stage of development. We start with what a typical child can do physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially, then use appropriate aspects of the martial arts to enhance the skills they are already learning just by being human.
This skill-based approach to training allows a SKILLZ school to focus on the child, to teach the way the child learns, and to have science-based expectations of what each child might be able to do and what their challenges will likely be.
Because we know that kids at different stages of development learn and are motivated differently, SKILLZ child development classes factor in things like brain development, emotional intelligence, and social skills. With this in mind, each of the classes in a SKILLZ age-specific martial arts program is designed from the ground up to focus on the child first and the martial arts second.
Are traditional Martial Arts Bad For Kids?
Absolutely not! A student in a good traditional martial arts program, one which balances the martial arts and the kids’ age-specific needs, will most certainly receive benefits in all areas of their development. In fact, when it comes to activities for kids, we believe martial arts is one of the best things you could pick!
The difference lies in our direction of approach.
A martial arts school teaches martial arts; the benefits of martial arts include developing many of the characteristics parents hope to see in their kids. But their primary purpose is to teach martial arts. And that is a GOOD thing!
In a SKILLZ school, we teach the student, not the lesson.
We believe that our primary purpose and our driving core value is to help the kids exceed developmental norms through lessons and activities specifically designed to enhance physical well-being, cognitive ability, emotional intelligence, and the ability to function as an integral part of a social unit.
When searching for karate classes for kids, it is important for parents to define their goals. There are many great schools teaching traditional martial arts to kids. SKILLZ schools simply do things a little differently.
OK, so you now understand a little bit better that there is a wide variation in the martial arts programs available to your child. But that still leaves the big question unanswered….
How Old Should My Child Be To Start Karate?
At SKILLZ of Patchogue, we have several age-specific martial arts programs available. The most popular are:
- Mini SKILLZ – martial arts for toddlers (18 to 36 months)
- Early SKILLZ – martial arts for preschoolers (ages 3 to 4)
- Basic SKILLZ – martial arts classes for kids 5 to 6 years of age
- Core SKILLZ – martial arts classes for kids 7 to 9 years of age
- Extreme SKILLZ – martial arts for tweens and teens (10 to 14 years)
Because a true age-specific program will set its objective training goals based on developmentally appropriate practices, each of our programs has unique objectives based on the skills typical for each age group.
Let’s look at each of these child development programs to see how they apply to the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social stages of development for each age group:
From 18 to 36 months of age, children’s skill development moves very quickly. Their brains are growing rapidly, language is blooming, and motor skills are advancing. At the same time, thinking becomes more developed, and their social and emotional capabilities enable them to interact with more people.
Can A 2-Year-Old Do Karate?
With that said, this is the ideal age to begin participation in structured group activities, such as Mini SKILLZ. We’ve done extensive research on the stages of development for children this age, and from that information have built a fun and exciting program that is just right for both the child and their guardian.
HERE’S AN OVERVIEW OF THE STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN AGES 18 TO 36 MONTHS:
Physically: they are very active but don’t have much control over their movements.
- We expect them to stumble on most activities and show very little skill in their gross and fine motor skills.
- The physical goals for our program are to get them to perform basic exercises and activities with control such as stepping & jumping without falling, kicking while bending their knees & punching while pulling their other hand back.
Intellectually: their thinking skills are all across the board, which makes it hard for them to anticipate what’s coming next. Therefore, their attention span will be minimal.
- We expect them to lose focus often during class, and quickly become distracted.
- The intellectual goals for our program are to get them to focus on the task at hand with minimal distractions, such as listening to the instructor, thinking about what comes next in activities, and following directions.
Emotionally: their feelings are extreme, but they are still not at the stage to recognize why. Therefore, they will show a wide range of intense emotions that are not quickly controllable.
- We expect them to throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way and run around uncontrollably if they get too excited.
- The emotional goals for our program are to help them have patience during activities despite how challenging they are.
Socially: language development has a significant influence on their social development. They will imitate others, but will quickly fight for personal space when they feel too crowded.
- We expect them to interact on an elementary level, but at the same time be more involved in “parallel” play.
- The social goals for our program are to help them interact positively by sharing as well as showing respect to the other people in the class.
By understanding the stages of development of 18 to 36-month-olds, we were able to select eight age-appropriate skills that make up the Mini SKILLZ Program:
HERE’S HOW THE MINI SKILLZ PROGRAM WORKS:
• We cover one of the above skills per class (in order).
• During each class, we run a warm-up, deliver a quick mat chat about the skill, run three skill-building drills, and then have a milestone checkpoint to see which stage they are at for the day’s skill.
• We finish each class with a cool-down and social game.
• We repeat the same format with each skill, rotating through each skill once per month.
• Once they reach the age of 3 and can follow along on the mat without a guardian, they are now ready for the next program, Early SKILLZ, for 3 and 4-year olds.
As you can see, this is not a typical toddler program!
We integrate an extensive amount of research and development into a program that is appropriate for their age, while at the same time advancing them beyond their current stage of development. This means that each child will learn and grow at a faster pace than the average toddler. The best part is the Mini SKILLZ program is an excellent way for them to bond with you as well!
Preschool kids between the ages of three and four years old love physical activity, especially anything involving play. They have a rich imagination and a strong desire to be less dependent on their usual caregivers.
The challenge we discovered is that many children at this age have a hard time with structure in a group environment, like what is commonly found in most Martial Arts schools, or even many organized sports teams.
Can a 3-Year-Old Do Martial Arts?
The solution we found is to provide preschool kids with their own martial arts program that targets their unique stage of development in a manner that keeps them entertained, while at the same time building skills that set them up for success.
With that said, a structured program introducing early skill-based training in Martial Arts has proven to be very successful.
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Here’s an overview of the stages of development of children between the ages of 3 and 4:
- Physically– they typically have low muscle tone and poor hand-eye coordination.
- We expect them initially to drop their arms when punching, and to stumble or fall when kicking or jumping. We also expect them to have no concept of spatial awareness, therefore they will drop things that are thrown to them and bump into people and obstacles often.
- The goal for our program is to get them to punch without dropping their arms; kick without falling; jump without falling; catch objects thrown from various directions and distances.
- Intellectually– kids at this age typically have a limited vocabulary — only about 30% of their language capacity — therefore learning is normally limited to visual and kinesthetic activities.
- We expect them to initially lose focus when activities are over-complicated. We also expect them to struggle with commands that have more than two instructions.
- The goal for our program is to get them to follow verbal commands with no visual demonstration. Also, our goal is for them to remember rules and commands without being reminded.
- Emotionally– they typically have strong preferences and fears and are not shy about telling you. Therefore they will normally act out of bounds when their emotions get out of control.
- We expect them to run off the mat when they have anxiety. We also expect them to shut down when something either scares them or doesn’t go their way.
- The goal for our program is to help them follow directions and persevere through an activity even if they are initially emotional, and to begin self-regulating when they experience strong emotions.
- Socially– they are typically very self-centered. Also, due to their limited vocabulary, their common form of communication is mainly physical. They like to engage in parallel play, meaning they want to be involved in the same activity as those around them, but do not necessarily want to play WITH those around them.
- We expect them to mimic one other, such as falling when their classmate falls. We also expect them to crash into things when they are excited, sometimes even on purpose.
- The goals for our program are to help them build good social skills such as spatial awareness; not interrupting when others are talking; taking turns properly.
By understanding the stages of development of 3 and 4-year olds, we were able to select 8 age-appropriate skills that make up the Early SKILLZ Program:
We cover one of the above skills per class (in order). During each class we run a warm-up; deliver a mat chat about the skill to help the kids connect with the lesson; run two or three skill-building drills to engage their working memory; then we have them demonstrate the skill to earn their skill-stripe. Students must earn all 8 skill-stripes in order to graduate to the next martial arts belt level.
Once they earn their next belt they will continue to run through all 8 skills earning their skill-stripes with a more challenging curriculum as they advance to each rank. They graduate to the Basic SKILLZ program after they have successfully completed all 9 belt ranks of the Early SKILLZ program.
Five and six-year-olds are the most enthusiastic students. They love creativity and problem-solving, which makes them ideal students in the Martial Arts.
The problem we discovered is they are so progressive in following tasks, some teachers tend to treat them like their older peers. This is a problem because they still do not have the basic skills necessary to keep up with children ages 7 and up.
Is 5 Years Old a Good Age to Start Karate?
The solution we found is to provide them with their own program that targets their stage of development in a manner that adapts to their social and intellectual curiosity while at the same time building skills that set them up for success.
With that said a structured program introducing basic skill-based training in Martial Arts has proven to be very successful.
(Scroll past the video for an overview of the stages of development of children ages 5 and 6, and to learn more about how our skill-based learning program works.)
- Physically– they typically do not know how to apply their muscles so they fall often when their body is in constant motion. Also, they have a basic foundation for leg, arm, core, and abdominal development, but they still lack a lot of strength.
- We expect them to initially struggle with multiple kicks beyond five repetitions. We also expect them to initially have sloppy technique when exercising.
- The goals for our program are to get them to perform high repetitions of kicks without putting their foot down, and also perform static, active, and dynamic exercises for beyond ten reps with good technique.
- Intellectually– they typically have a hard time retaining beyond three commands. They also have a hard time distinguishing between their left and right.
- We expect them to initially get confused when we ask them to do more than three things at one time. We also initially expect them to have a hard time distinguishing between their left and right when following multiple-commands.
- The goal for our program is to get them to retain three or more commands at once, and beyond. We will also help them learn how to perform various left and right combinations.
- Emotionally – they typically focus on things that make them happy. They also have slow brakes when they are excited.
- We expect them to initially lose focus and shut down when they are not happy. We also expect them to lose control when they are over-excited.
- The goal for our program is to help them focus even when it’s hard to do so. We will also help them control their body and their power, especially when they are excited.
- Socially– they love to play with others, but are typically very competitive.
- We expect them to initially show weak sportsmanship when they participate in a competition.
- The goals for our program are to help them build good teamwork such as no cheating; don’t get angry when they lose; and don’t brag when they win
By understanding the stages of development of 5 and 6-year olds, we were able to select 8 age-appropriate skills that make up the Basic SKILLZ Program:
We cover one of the above skills per class (in order). During each class we run a warm-up; deliver a mat chat about the skill; run two or three skill-building drills, and then we have them demonstrate the skill to earn their skill-stripe. They must earn all 8 skill-stripes in order to graduate to the next belt level.
Once they earn their next belt they will continue to run through all 8 skills earning their skill-stripes with more challenging curriculum as they advance to each rank. They graduate to the Core SKILLZ program after they have successfully completed all 9-belt ranks of the Basic SKILLZ program.
Seven to nine-year olds are what most people consider “the golden age.” They are proficient in their vocabulary and problem-solving skills, yet they are not at the age where they want complete independence from adults.
This makes the teacher-student relationship stronger than ever.
The problem we discovered is they still lack core skills, and although they are highly intelligent, they struggle to keep up with students ages 10 and up.
The solution we found is to provide them with their own program that targets their stage of development in a manner that adapts to their adventurous attitude and youthful nature while at the same time building skills that set them up for success.
With that said a structured program introducing core skill-based training in Martial Arts has proven to be very successful.
Here’s an overview of the stages of development of children ages 7 to 9:
(Article continues below the video)
- Physically – they typically have weak fine motor skills therefore proficient technique is not quite there yet. Also, they still tend to stumble when their body is in motion therefore advanced movement is still a little sloppy.
- We expect them to initially struggle with great technique in their blocks, strikes, kicks, and stances. We also expect them to initially look sloppy when jumping, spinning, switching feet, etc.
- The goal of our program is to get them to perform technical blocks, strikes, kicks, and stances while applying power. Also, our goal is to get them to apply speed to motion without looking sloppy.
- Intellectually– they are extremely bright, but they typically have a hard time concentrating during distractions.
- We expect them to initially lose focus if there are other, more “interesting” things going on around them. We also expect them to forget simple commands mainly because they try to “over-think.”
- The goal of our program is to get them to concentrate on the task at hand despite other distractions. Our goal is to also get them to retain simple information without trying to put excessive thought into it.
- Emotionally– they are wonderfully stable and love challenges. However, they will typically show excessive fear when they over-process something.
- We expect them to have emotional stability for the most part on normal days. We also expect them to initially show excessive fear when put on the spot.
- The goal of our program is to help them persevere through challenges, especially when they initially feel like giving up. We will also help them face their fears.
- Socially– they love to interact with others, especially adults. However, they typically don’t like when something is unfair and will be determined to point it out and be heard.
- We expect them to initially interrupt us when they think something is wrong. We also expect them to show great determination when trying to get their point across.
- The goals for our program are to help them know how to address problems and challenges properly without interfering with the overall flow of the class.
By understanding the stages of development of 7 to 9-year olds, we were able to select 8 age-appropriate skills that make up the Core SKILLZ Program:
We cover one of the above skills per class (in order.) During each class we run a warm-up; deliver a mat chat about the skill; run two or three skill-building drills; and then we have them demonstrate the skill to earn their skill-stripe. They must earn all 8 skill-stripes in order to graduate to the next belt level. Once they earn their next belt they will continue to run through all 8 skills earning their skill-stripes with more challenging curriculum as they advance to each rank. They graduate to the Extreme SKILLZ program after they have successfully completed all 9 belt ranks of the Core SKILLZ program.
Ten to fourteen-year olds are the smartest students in the school. Yes, they are smarter than most adults! They are also physically competent and can excel in most physical challenges that are presented to them. The problem we discovered is they are so focused on what is socially acceptable that they have a hard time keeping themselves emotionally driven to the task at hand.
The solution we found is to provide them with their own program that targets their stage of development in a manner that nurtures their social and emotional instability while at the same time building skills that set them up for success. With that said a structured program introducing extreme skill-based training in Martial Arts has proven to be very successful.
Here’s an overview of the stages of development of children ages 10 to 14:
- Physically– they typically have great technique and agility, but they can be lazy which leads to sloppiness.
- We expect them to initially be sloppy on things that are easy physically.
- The goal for our program is to get them to understand their potential if they pay attention the intricate details. We normally bypass the basics elements of physical development and jump right into the complicated details.
- Intellectually– they are extremely smart. Their critical thinking skills are top-notch, but their decision making skills are typically the exact opposite, and that is why most adults treat them like a child.
- We expect them to initially make choices that are easy as compared to applying thought and effort.
- The goal for our program is to get them to see the bigger picture and apply their intellect.
- Emotionally– thanks to science, they are typically all over the emotional spectrum. This is more prominent in boys than girls.
- We expect their efforts to be based on what they think is cool.
- The goal for our program is to help them apply intrinsic motivation and realize their true potential. Our goal is to also help them improve their decision-making skills with drills that challenge their reaction time.
- Socially– they care about what their peers think. If something is cool, then they will put more effort into it.
- We expect them to initially hold back if they are uncomfortable as a defense mechanism.
- The goal for our program is to help them excel at everything they do, especially in front of a crowd.
By understanding the stages of development of 10 and 14-year olds, we were able to select 8 age-appropriate skills that make up the Extreme SKILLZ Program:
We cover one of the above skills per class (in order.) During each class we run a warm-up; deliver a mat chat about the skill; run two or three skill-building drills; and then we have them demonstrate the skill to earn their skill-stripe. They must earn all 8 skill-stripes in order to graduate to the next belt level. Once they earn their next belt they will continue to run through all 8 skills earning their skill-stripes with more challenging curriculum as they advance to each rank. They graduate to the Elite program and begin to work towards their 1st Degree Black Belt after they have successfully completed all 9 belt ranks of the Extreme SKILLZ program.
As you can see we take Martial Arts training to a whole new level! We use elements of traditional Martial Arts curricula to build skills that are appropriate for each age group. This means that your child will learn and grow at a pace that is not too easy, nor too challenging. The best part is the SKILLZ program will equip your child with skills that they will utilize in every area of their life!
That all sounds great, but you may still be asking yourself:
How do I know if my child is ready for martial arts?
From the very moment you decide that SKILLZ of Patchogue is an option for your family, our process works to lead you successfully from searching google for “Karate Classes For Kids” to becoming a thriving member of our community. We will start with having a conversation about your goals and your child’s interests. After that, our brief online application will begin the process of discovery to see how we can connect with and motivate your child.
Then comes the fun part!
All of the kids in our program start the same way: with a free 1-on-1 placement evaluation.
This brief one-on-one session helps your child feel more comfortable in our school while learning some cool martial arts moves, lets you see how we work with the kids before joining, and gives us an opportunity to assess your child’s strengths and challenges to see how we can best help based on what we see and what you’ve told us about your child.
We want to ensure we will be a good fit for your child’s developmental needs, and you want to be sure that your child will have fun and be in the best possible class for success!
How to Start my child in SKILLZ Classes?
There are a few steps you can take to get your child started in our martial-arts-themed child development program.
First, we want you to make informed decisions about your child’s education, so take advantage of our online media to learn more about what we do:
- Facebook: www.Facebook.com/4GKSkillz
- Instagram: www.Instagram.com/skillzofpatchogue
- YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCnts2DCSrOP1tdIo2QgyYbA
- TikTok: www.tiktok.com/@skillzofpatchogue
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/SkillzOfPatchogue/
Once you’ve made the decision to meet us, you can get started by filling out our online application and then scheduling your child’s free session.
Click here to start: