by Kathy Olevsky
I think I hear this question about once per week. Sometimes the question is coming from parents who what to know when to start their child in martial arts. Sometimes the question is coming from adults who actually want to know if they should have started when they were children.
The answer is different for everyone. When I talk to parents, I often tell them that if they want their child to excel well and to move through the ranks of White Belt to Black Belt, then probably starting their child around eight years old would be good. They have developed most of their gross motor skills at that point. Their brains have spent a few years in school so they are often ready to receive information from a teacher.
Now, does that mean that you should not start your four year old in Karate? Of course you should start him or her, if that is something you think they will enjoy. They will start in our pre-school program and will start to build their gross motor skills through Karate techniques. Then, when they are old enough to join our bigger kids in regular classes, they will be a little more confident than the eight year old coming in with no martial arts background.
So, for those of you who already have an older sibling in the big kid’s classes, give your younger ones the advantage of getting a head start on their martial arts. Just understand that the journey from White Belt to Black Belt generally takes 3-4 years once your child’s gross motor skills have developed.
Adults are another story all together. Don’t wait! The average adult thinks about starting in the martial arts for three years before they take the first step. There is no perfect age for an adult to start. There is no advantage to starting as a child. When an adult starts in the martial arts, as an adult, they usually continue in it most of their life.
They find it to be a life skill that enhances their self-confidence and their physical fitness. So the important message for adults is to stop thinking about it and jump in that first class. We know how to make you feel comfortable and safe while giving you a physical workout that is right for your fitness level. I have never heard an adult say they were sorry they started in the martial arts. I have heard them all say they wish they had started sooner!