These days mixed martial arts are all the rage. Martial arts often have a positive effect on attention, resilience, and focus, but could mixed martial arts help children to learn?
Mixed martial arts can help children learn. As a general rule, martial arts help children concentrate better, be resilient to work through challenges without giving up and improve consistency. Neural pathways in the brain are strengthened as a result of the training.
But the above is just the tip of the iceberg.
In this article, we’ll explore what age is ideal to start martial arts and whether mixed martial arts help kids focus. But we will also find out if MMA is good for ADHD.
Let the fun begin.
What age is best to start martial arts?
The best age to start martial arts and have the child stick with it is between the ages of 7 and 10. Prior to 2nd grade, children are more likely to lose interest after a few months and move on to other activities.
And of course, if you signed a contract at the martial arts school, you may be obligated financially long past your child wanting to go.
So while kids as young as age 3 often love martial arts classes, most kids between 3-6 don’t stick with it long-term.
Good martial art schools place a premium on safety, so the children won’t be engaged in anything demanding, difficult, or dangerous.
And, of course, good schools make the classes and curriculum age-appropriate. So while an injury is always possible, they are rare.
In the 8 years I helped run a dojo, I only ever saw 1 bone break, and that was working with thousands of students over that time period.
But what if your kid really wants to start when they are super young?
To learn more about the best age for a child to start martial arts, check out a recent article of mine. I got into how long, on average, each age group tends to stick with it and what to do when you want them to go, and they start kicking and screaming.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
Million of kids take part in mixed martial arts. We look at the reasons for the trend at 5:23. pic.twitter.com/KbHzendlEz
— Andrew Harrison TV (@AHarrisonTV) August 25, 2017
Does Mixed Martial Arts help kids focus?
Mixed martial arts and martial arts of most kinds have been shown to help kids focus better. This is due to the fact that most martial arts are not just physical but also focus on the ability to self-regulate.
But that is less true of classes that focus exclusively on self-defense, such as Krav Maga.
In a study conducted in Italy, it was shown that Karate (one of the martial arts that’s employed in MMA) helps with increasing the following in kids:
- executive functions
Martial arts focus on the individual child, as against sports where the team is the focus.
This is one of the reasons why martial arts are great for helping children with ADHD because they can receive individual attention.
Children with learning and attention challenges seem to thrive in structured environments such as the ones where they are taught how to master several martial arts.
The routine is calming and helps them focus their attention.
Having said that, this does not mean that children who are on medication need to give up their medication. So always talk to your doctor before adding or dropping something your child is doing.
But what about at school specifically?
In a recent article, I explored whether martial arts help children at school. I get into exactly how it can help and the 1 crucial area where it can make or break their academic success.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
Did you know? Studying martial arts can improve the lives of children with ADHD. Kids who lack focus, have excess energy, and tend to act out can learn to channel those qualities into martial arts training! pic.twitter.com/zezLzGewKL
— SC Wado Kai Karate (@SouthWado) October 5, 2018
Is MMA good for ADHD?
Mixed Martial Arts is good for ADHD because it teaches invaluable self-regulation skills, which, in turn, improve focus, discipline, and the ability to stick to one task at a time.
These techniques are taught in small chunks in each class, and this goes on for years. On average, not more than two techniques are taught per class.
So a typical class would focus on continuous repetition of just a few things rather than trying to teach a bunch of stuff all the time.
So, it is never overwhelming.
And because most of the martial arts in MMA have a ranking/belt system, the child with ADHD has a sense of accomplishment which impacts their self-esteem.
And that, in turn, becomes a positive reinforcement. So, they are motivated to become less restless and more focused the more they learn.
Happy birthday to me and without a doubt, the best gift came from my 2 girls who advanced to 3rd degree black belts in Taekwondo! Only 12 and 10 years old. I’m so proud of them! #GirlDad pic.twitter.com/epIcTIy03m
— Tim Eyles (@Eyles007) July 21, 2021
What are the best martial arts for ages 5-10?
Judo, Karate, Kung Fu, and Taekwondo are some of the best martial arts for children aged 5-10. These are fun but will also instill discipline, resilience, and focus while engaging and stimulating the child and building core strength.
Karate is arguably the best amongst these four.
But you must consider what your child would enjoy. After all, no matter how much you think they will benefit from a specific style or school, if they don’t like it, it will be a chore to get them there every week.
And trust me, you will eventually tire of trying.
But why is Karate the best for kids aged 5-10? It’s a great way to teach them about motor skills and the connection between the body and the mind. And hence, the power of the mind over the body.
It’s a great way for them to learn respect and how to defend themselves.
They learn about counterattacking and defense moves because one of the central tenets is not to attack first. They learn how to be efficient when they have to defend themselves.
It helps them to develop their character.
They learn to set goals and work toward their attainment. That could be hoping for the next color belt and then the next.
— Judo Planet (@JudoPlanet) June 6, 2017
What are the best martial arts for kids?
The best martial arts for kids of all ages include Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, and Taekwondo. But Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also great for helping with sensory processing and for those who are smaller and weaker.
Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, and Taekwondo are all fantastic martial arts for kids and they will gain a good friend network training in those martial arts.
And what’s appropriate for a 15-year-old can also be great for a 7-year-old. Both can be taught Judo; it’s just that they are going to be exposed to different parts, and the forms the instruction takes would naturally differ.
The younger ones would most naturally be exposed to the art in a manner that more emphasis is placed on fun, play, exercises, and teamwork, while the older kid gets to have a taste of the hardcore aspects of the martial art they’ve chosen.
But before you decide on which one is the best for your kid, it’s best to educate him or her about what each martial art entails.
There are YouTube videos that are great for this, and you may want to take advantage of the opportunity of having your kid audit classes on at least two before they pick one.
Actually, it’s best to have the kid decide which one they prefer.
The fact that they made the decision would make them more motivated. Of course, you can both research the martial arts online and through visits to prospective dojos. It can be a wonderful opportunity for bonding with them.
But what about BJJ?
Personally, I love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s an offshoot of Judo and traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.
And it’s focused mostly on groundwork which, to the uninitiated, will look like wrestling. But it was developed by Hélio Gracie, who as an adult was well under 150 lbs. So it was designed to help those who were smaller, lighter, and weaker than would-be opponents.
But since it involves a lot of smushing and close contact, it’s great for improving sensory processing. (source)
Do teenage girls like contact martial arts, and do they have to work with boys?
Check out a recent article of mine where I shared whether Jiu-Jitsu is good for teenage girls. After all, this can be an awkward time for young girls, and wrestling a boy may be weird to many girls. But I also shared whether martial arts help teenage girls with anxiety.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
In the article, we explored what age is ideal to start martial arts and whether mixed martial arts help kids focus.
But we also found out if MMA is good for ADHD. Then, we looked at the best martial arts for ages 5 to 10. Lastly, we wrapped things up by finding out the best martial arts for kids, and which martial arts have the biggest impact on kids’ behavior.