13 Proven Ways Martial Arts Can Help Kids at School (and why)

Martial arts provide numerous benefits for people of all ages. And it really shines in helping kids. But will martial arts help my child at school?

As a general rule, the skills acquired from martial arts will help children at school in the following ways:

  1. Improved Focus and Concentration
  2. Increased Discipline and Self-Control
  3. Better Bully Awareness and Self-Defense Skills
  4. Emotional Self-Regulation
  5. Improved Leadership Skills
  6. Better Time Management Skills

But those are only a few of the 13 I examine below!

It has often been stated that a child or adolescent’s primary responsibility is to excel academically while also having fun and being a kid.

So, it makes sense to involve them in activities that touch on both of those areas. And martial arts is actually one of the best ways to do that. So in this article, we’ll review all the benefits of martial arts and see how those can correlate to improved performance at school.

But beyond that, we’ll examine just how much martial arts can improve your child’s behavior and performance overall.

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Now let’s review the . . . 

13 Proven Ways Martial Arts Can Help Kids at School

1. Improved Focus and Concentration

Martial arts training teaches children how to stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand. Through various techniques and exercises, they learn to block out distractions and enhance their ability to concentrate, which can greatly benefit their academic performance.

2. Increased Discipline and Self-Control

Martial arts instill discipline and self-control in children.

They learn to follow instructions, respect authority, and control their impulses. And the best part is these qualities help them stay disciplined in their studies, complete assignments on time, and make responsible choices in and out of the classroom.

3. Enhanced Physical Fitness

Martial arts training promotes physical fitness, including strength, endurance, flexibility, and coordination. Regular practice and physical activity improve children’s overall health, boost energy levels, and increases their ability to participate in physical activities at school.

4. Improved Self-Confidence

Through martial arts, children gain self-confidence as they learn new skills, overcome challenges, and progress in their training. This confidence extends to the classroom, enabling them to participate actively, express their ideas, and engage in social interactions with peers and teachers.

5. Better Bully Awareness and Self-Defense Skills

Martial arts lessons teach children valuable self defense skills and help them become more aware of bullying behaviors.

They learn how to handle confrontations, diffuse conflicts, and seek help when necessary. And they learn this in a safe environment. This knowledge empowers them to stand up for themselves and others, creating a safer and more inclusive school environment.

6. Improved Problem-Solving Skills

Martial arts training requires children to think critically and develop problem-solving skills.

They learn to analyze situations, make decisions quickly, and adapt their strategies when faced with challenges. These problem-solving abilities translate to academic settings, allowing them to approach complex tasks and solve problems effectively.

7. Better Emotional Regulation

Martial arts teaches children how to manage their emotions in a controlled and healthy manner. It’s provides great stress relief.

Martial artists learn to channel their anger, frustration, and stress positively, reducing the likelihood of impulsive behavior or emotional outbursts. This self control and emotional management carries over to the school environment, fostering better relationships and improved mental well-being.

8. Enhanced Respect for Others

Martial arts skills emphasize respect for others, including instructors, training partners, and opponents.

Children learn to listen attentively, follow instructions, set healthy boundaries, and treat others with kindness and courtesy. This respect extends to their interactions with teachers, classmates, and school staff, creating a positive and harmonious atmosphere.

9. Improved Leadership Skills

Martial arts training helps children develop leadership skills by providing opportunities for them to guide and assist others. They learn to take responsibility, communicate effectively, and inspire their peers. These leadership qualities can be applied in group projects, extracurricular activities, and other school-related endeavors.

10. Better Time Management Skills

A good martial arts program teaches children the importance of managing their time effectively.

Balancing schoolwork, training sessions, and other commitments requires planning, prioritization, and organization. These time management skills help children stay on top of their assignments, meet deadlines, and create a healthy work-life balance.

11. Enhanced Perseverance and Resilience

Martial arts instill the values of perseverance and resilience in children.

They learn the value of hard work, and not to give up easily, even when faced with difficulties or setbacks. This mindset helps them overcome academic challenges, handle academic pressures, and develop a positive attitude toward continuous learning.

12. Improved Social Skills

Fun martial arts classes provide children with opportunities to interact and engage with peers in a structured and supportive environment. And make lots of great friends.

They learn how to communicate effectively, collaborate with others, and develop teamwork skills. These social skills extend to the school setting, allowing them to build friendships, work well in group projects, and navigate social situations with confidence.

13. Enhanced Goal Setting and Achievement

Martial arts teaches children the importance of setting goals and working towards them.

They learn to set both short-term and long-term goals, develop action plans, and celebrate their achievements. This goal-oriented mindset from their martial arts journey carries over to their academic pursuits, motivating them to strive for excellence, stay motivated, and succeed academically.

How Martial Arts Is Beneficial For Kids


In conclusion, the study of martial arts can have numerous positive impacts on children’s academic performance and overall well-being.

The discipline, focus, and self-confidence developed through martial arts training can translate into improved concentration, better time management, improved behavior, and enhanced problem-solving skills in the school setting.

Moreover, the physical fitness and stress-relief benefits of martial arts can contribute to increased energy levels and reduced anxiety, enabling children to better cope with the demands of school.

By fostering discipline, respect, perseverance, and self-control, martial arts can help children navigate the challenges of school and cultivate valuable life skills that extend far beyond the training mat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What skills do martial arts teach children?

The primary skills martial arts teach children include:

  • Focus
  • Discipline
  • To challenge themselves
  • Goal setting
  • Discipline
  • Confidence
  • Resilience

But let’s examine each of those in greater detail, why they are important, and how martial arts helps instill those qualities:


Many children struggle to stay focused on the task at hand.

Martial arts will teach youngsters this valuable skill, whether through the use of a breaking board, punching pad, or physical movement control.

This newly acquired attention extends beyond the mat and can be applied to other areas such as homework and reading. (source)


A child needs to learn discipline in order to be effective at martial arts.

Dojos have a serious and disciplined atmosphere. Instructors will not put up with needless or excessive talking. These disciplinary actions have an impact on the classroom.

It also results in higher grades and a more controlled attitude. (source)

To challenge themselves

Martial arts urge students to push themselves further than they believe they are capable of going.

Seeing progress in martial arts will cause a child to apply that same principle in the classroom, hence resulting in better grades.

This behavior will surely help in approaching difficult homework and classwork.

Goal setting

The achievement of goals in martial arts is usually recognized by the issuance of colored belts when marking progress.

The colors of the belts urge children to strive for the next level. Setting these kinds of goals will help motivate pupils to set goals, like acquiring a degree.


Relationships in martial arts are built on a foundation of basic respect for instructors, teachers, and students.

Many teachers use class time to talk about the value of respect and how it affects everyone’s life. Teaching students to respect others will carry over into their daily lives and education.


Martial arts students build confidence as they realize they can manage problems and maintain control.

As they gain physical strength, their confidence grows, and they become less fearful of confrontation. This will enable the learner to defend themself against bullies and potential assailants.

This becomes part of them forever.


It’s not uncommon for kids (and many adults, for that matter) to give up or throw a tantrum when they try something and can’t get it or fail at it.

Martial arts teaches kids how to work through challenging situations (like a sparring match or getting smushed in a BJJ or Judo match) without giving up or getting angry.

It does this by:

  • Repetition of training the skills (repetition is the mother of mastery)
  • A colored belt system to keep them motivated and working towards the next level
  • A spiritual component and breathwork to give them a tool to use to calm their nervous system

What type of martial arts should my child start?

The best martial arts for kids are:

  1. Aikido
  2. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ)
  3. Karate 
  4. Taekwondo

But let’s review each of those in greater detail so you understand why they are good and so you can choose the one that is most likely to resonate with your child.

After all, no matter how great you think it is, if they don’t love it, they won’t want to stick with it. And at that point, it will become a battle, and you’ll eventually get worn down and give in.

Lastly, the martial arts instructors are what make or break martial arts schools. So an excellent instructor in any of the martial arts styles (Karate, Kung Fu, etc) will be far better than a bad or mediocre instructor in one of these styles. Look for someone kind, and patient, with extensive experience training kids.

This is not the time to look for a future drill sergeant.


If you’re seeking non-violent martial arts for kids, Aikido is one.

It doesn’t have the best reputation for self-defense because it has a do-no-harm philosophy, and violence would always be an absolute last resort.

However, because it focuses on wrist locks and regulating arm movement, it is useful against aggressive, untrained people who lack control.

Aikido is an excellent choice for young children who struggle to focus in more difficult martial arts sessions.

It is often recommended that persons learning Aikido acquire martial art to gain greater self-defense skills later in life.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is regarded as one of the best martial arts for self-defense since it teaches abilities that may be used against larger and stronger opponents.

BJJ is ideal for smaller and/or weaker children since it is not dependent on strength or power, allowing smaller opponents to defend themselves.

Instead of striking or kicking, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu employs grappling techniques that emphasize distance management, leverage, positioning, and submissions. So to the uninitiated, it will look like wrestling.

Jiu-Jitsu translates to “gentle way,” as it teaches pupils how to employ just the perfect amount of power to get out of difficult situations.

Some parents might think martial arts are too dangerous for girls. I have 3 daughters, all of whom have loved martial arts at different times in their lives, so I can speak to this well.

I have a recent article on what is the best martial art for teenage girls, what special considerations to take, and how to keep them motivated to stick with it.

Just click the link to read it on my site.


Karate is one of the most widely practiced martial arts in the world.

It began as a technique of weaponless self-defense in Okinawa, Japan, during a period when firearms were prohibited and translated to “empty hands” in Japanese.

In a traditional Karate school, they believe that the real enemy is one’s own mind.

Hence the teachings place a heavy emphasis on:

  • Spiritual development
  • Self-control
  • Patience
  • Discipline to help one master oneself

Karate involves full-body, balanced motions, and training concentrated on blocks, blows, punches, evasions, and kicks to enable counter-strikes.

A lot of parents and kids wonder whether Karate can actually speed up growth or make you taller.

In a recent article, I discussed that topic. But I get very specific about the medical facts from actual studies, too, so you know the “real” answer.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do martial arts develop focus and control in my child?

At a good martial arts academy, children of all ages learn how to concentrate and conserve their energy in order to execute tasks such as breaking a board or punching a target. But the martial arts techniques are also practiced repetitively to perfection. The end result is improved focus and self-control.

Martial arts are based on self-control and discipline, which are taught by instructors who work hard to keep children focused on the task at hand.

Practicing this style of attention can also help kids concentrate on homework, reading assignments, and other tasks.

A martial arts class’s varied physical exercise has been demonstrated in studies to develop neural pathways in the brain and help overactive children practice self-control. Furthermore, the moves of the martial art they pursue might help kids develop coordination and physical strength.

But what about anxious kids?

Check out my recent article where I talked about whether Karate can help with anxiety. I get into the science behind it too, so it’s not just based on my observations in working with thousands of kids over the years.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What is the best age for a child to start martial arts?

The best age to start a child in martial arts is in elementary school between 7 and 10 years. According to statistics, students who begin classes between the ages of 7 and 10 have a higher success rate and stay in martial arts longer than any other age group.

One of the biggest questions among martial arts and self-defense schools is the age at which children should begin learning martial arts.

After all, many schools start kids as young as age 3.

Many parents’ perspectives differ; some believe that children should start as soon as possible, while others believe that doing so too soon can be harmful.

However, practically, the age will be determined by the child, the martial art, the school philosophy, and other considerations.

Children under the age of six may lack the necessary motor skills to master punches and kicks. But they can still have fun exercising, connecting with other kids, and learning about martial arts.

Consider chatting with a martial arts instructor and/or observing a class by yourself first.

That will give you a good idea of how the instructor speaks to children. After all, you don’t want one of those schools where the instructors build respect by fear or shame. Then have your child do a free trial class before committing to make sure they like it.

It is critical to make informed decisions when it comes to investing their time and your money.

Speaking of money, I discussed in a recent article of mine if you can claim martial arts on your taxes just like you can daycare. Sounds funny, but remember, every cent counts.

Click the link to read the article on my website.

Which martial art is best for ADHD?

Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, and Tai Chi were shown to be the most effective martial arts for those with ADHD in a study conducted by a physical education school in Turkey.


An individual sport (compared to team sports) is excellent for children with ADHD since they need individual focus. Individual sports, such as BJJ, allow you to compete for yourself while also being a part of a team and finding methods to relate to team members.

Children with ADHD find it much easier to focus with fewer distractions, and the coaching is tailored precisely.

An athlete with ADHD may struggle to pay attention if they are playing a sport where the coaching is aimed more at the team as a whole. Children with learning disabilities and behavioral issues appear to thrive in the structured atmosphere of a dojo (self-defense training school).

Martial arts provide a terrific, relaxing routine and are really helpful for helping children with attention deficit or hyperactivity problems focus.

Image by Stefan Meller from Pixabay

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