What is the Best Age to Start a Child in Martial Arts?

One of the most common questions parents ask us at Sandoval Freestyle Karate is, “What is the ideal age for my child to start learning karate?” It is hard to pinpoint a perfect age due to the different development rates in kids, but in most cases, six years of age is a good time to expect kids to start learning (more on this later). We should point out that you are never too old to learn karate. While the best time to do anything is a few years ago, the second-best time is now!

When Did the Experts Start to Learn?

You’ll probably be surprised when you discover when great martial artists began studying. Bruce Lee is regarded as one of his generation’s most skilled martial artists, and he “only” began learning at 13. According to most accounts, Cynthia Rothrock was the same age, and Jean Claude Van Damme started training at 11, according to most reports. Even more remarkably, Michelle Yeoh of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was 22 years old when she first learned martial arts!

Jet Li was eight years old, on the other end of the scale, while Jackie Chan was seven when he first started learning. Further research shows that most martial arts instructors begin training by their 10th birthday, while grandmasters usually start when they are six or seven. Little evidence shows kids benefiting from proper karate training before age six.

Why is Six the Magic Number?

According to experts in pediatrics, sports medicine, and fitness, six is an excellent time to start because most children have enough muscle control to turn safely and correctly, and they can also throw technically correct punches. Children usually can jump off steps and stand on one leg for brief periods when they are three years old, and by the age of four or five, they can cooperate with other kids, jump, and skip.

Why Does Sandoval Karate have a ‘Little Dragons’ Program?

The Sandoval Freestyle Karate Little Dragons program is for kids ages three to five, below the ideal starting age of six; why do we do it? Our Little Dragons program takes advantage of the fact your kids have a semblance of balance and control to teach them the most basic stances and a few moves. The Little Dragons need to develop more muscle control so power is not emphasized.

Instead, we encourage kids to learn a little about karate and teach them some basics that will transfer into our beginner’s class for kids ages six to 11. Only then do we begin karate training in earnest. Above all, Little Dragons is about your kids having fun!


In a nutshell, you can begin learning fundamental stances at the age of three and begin proper karate training by the age of six, though, as we said above, this can depend on a child’s rate of development. If your child is a little older, don’t worry; as we have already shown, it is possible to become an expert no matter what age you start.

Experience the Benefits of Mixed Martial Arts

Ready to experience the benefits of mixed martial arts for yourself? Enroll in Sandoval Freestyle Karate today and get 1 month of free martial arts classes! With classes for all ages, there's something for everyone.

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**The free month promotion is good for 2 family members. Any additional family members will receive a free class