concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

Does karate make kids more aggressive?

Hi all,

I need your opinions. We are considering karate for our very active boys (ages 4 and 3). They recently sat in on a class and seem to be interested, but we are a bit unsure about the whole thing. B/c our kids have so much energy to begin w/, we're not sure if karate will help them release that energy or make them more aggressive. We also don't know if age plays a factor in all this and if it's better to hold off on classes for now. Let me add that my oldest son has some trouble following directions and staying focused at times, so I don't know if karate will help him or hurt him.
Overall, we've heard really great things about karate building discipline, self-esteem and confidence, not to mention it's benefits for self-defense and exercise. I just don't want to see it backfire on us. Does anyone have any advice or experience w/ this?

tamz's picture

I have learned something about karate because I work in a predominantly Asian work force. Many of the children learn/practice karate as a sport or self defense. If you find the right program, they will focus on attitudes like virtue and leadership. The one little boy who comes to mind when I think of children and karate is an 8 year old boy who I would describe as amazing. This little boy has been participatig in karate since he was 4. However, I think the average age of a kid is about 7 because he/she needs to be able to grasp the consepts as well as the sometimes difficult "moves"... I think karate is a wonderful way to teach children self defense and postitve character but maybe not until they are a little older. Have you thought about swimming lessons or soccer??

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

Hi tamz,
Thx for your input. We tried soccer w/ our older son, but he cldn't stay focused and he was all over the place. I thought karate might be better b/c it's more structured, and w/ a small class size, I think my son wld do ok. I just don't want it to make my kids more wired. Swimming is a great suggestion, and it's something we've also been considering. Again, I need to find a program that offers a small class size. Thx again for your suggestions.

k4satin's picture

I have really mixed feelings about karate. I grew up with only a sister (no boys) in a house where any kind of fighting, hitting, spanking was absolutely unacceptable. My husband grew up in Thailand where kick-boxing is the norm. I don't like my boys' tendency to play-fight, but my husband says it's normal. We let our older son take karate last summer (he started at 5 & turned 6 during the session). I was hoping for the introduction to the values you always hear about with karate, and to some respect for fighting - that it is only for defense. While my son absolutely loved it, I was quite disappointed that the instructor spent all the time teaching them moves. They learned some stances & bows, but mostly learned and practiced various punches and kicks. I'm not sure if I need to find a different marshal arts discipline, or just another program... The instructor did not seem very comfortable with the younger age group. Maybe he felt they were too young to grasp the concepts that you normally expect to correspond with karate. I very much disagree. If there are principles that will be taught, they should be included from the beginning. My son got his yellow belt, but didn't continue when he went back to school Recently he started participating in a Taikwando (sp?) class they have for the kids at our gym. I haven't had the chance to observe it much yet, but I know it is more of a fitness class than his original karate. I don't know if it's any better on the principles part yet. That probably doesn't help you much, but that's where I'm at with it! :-)
- Kristin
The Satin Button

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

You make some good points. Thank you. The age thing is definitely a factor I think, or otherwise the maturity of the child. I agree that karate shld be used for what it's meant for, not fighting or "play fighting". That's what I'm afraid of. Also, it's not cheap, so I want my kids to stick w/ it for a while, not just give up. I suppose finding the right program is the key to success shld we choose to pursue this. Thanks for your input.

slvl02's picture

My 8 yr. old has been in karate for 6 months now and he is excelling at it. We started him in karate only because he was very hyper and energetic. My husband and I figured this would calm him down and it did. My son has learned how to focus, how to pay attention and has become very disciplined. Karate will help a child release a lot of energy and believe me they will go home very tired. But it also depends on the Master. He has to have a lot of patience to deal with some very hyper children and at the same time teach them a lot of self discipline. I highly recommend karate for all children.

dmw373's picture

I had similar concerns. My son went to a b-day party & really liked the "play" part of it. Everyone at the party rec'd a 1 week trial & we decided to give it a try. The instructor is great with kids & has a class just for 3 to 5 year olds. His MWF class has just 4 right now, while the 5-10 y.o. class has about 8 to 10. I agree the right program/instructor is very important. Maybe try to visit a few & see what they have to say. Meet with the owner/instructor & discuss your interest/concern & see if they offer a free trial or short term starter class. I think my son has shown improvement in his activity level, as well as his attention span. They do both fun & learning things. He also eats & sleeps much better! :) Denise

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

Thank you all so much for your replies. I'll keep you posted on what we decide to do. I greatly appreciate your feedback.

forourkiddos's picture

I am going to put my kids in karate when they are about 6 each. My son really wants to join. I did take some karate in college, cant wait to start again. It does teach discipline, self determination, commitment, and is great physical and mental exercise. You need to make sure to find a really good instructor that really is as dedicated to the internal aspect of karate as he/she is to the external aspect of fighting. There is a good balance necessary.

Athena Lodge

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

Thx. I'm sure the right instructor can make all the difference. Good luck to you and your kids as well.

Only2boys's picture

Hi! I realize this post was started in 2008, but I'm curious as to what you decided. After reading several articles about Tae Kwon Do helping children with ADHD and Autism, I asked our child psychologist about it for our 7 yr old son. He recommended it and told us his sons actually went as far as to get their black belts. His one son has ADHD.

So in June we started our 7 year old, who is diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disorder and has those characteristics of ADHD which is part of the NLD disorder, with Tae Kwon Do. This was recommended by our psychologist over Karate. They start with children as young as 5. My 4 yr old wants to do it too.

The novelty of Tae Kwon Do made him anxious the first two weeks, but now he loves it. He wants his Gee and to try for his orange belt.

What I see is that they exercise in the beginning and count in Japanese. If you are fooling around you will expect to do extra exercises. I do see leniency with the younger newer kids to TKD, which they need as they are learning. You do need to focus to learn the exercises and moves. One nice thing that has been happening is that they have extra guys with black belts helping out the kids. They are breaking down in to very small groups which is where they can focus on what each child needs to learn.

So far it has been very positive for our son, who wouldn't succeed at team sports.

Just on another note, my son also loves taking swimming lessons. Last year and a previous year of taking lessons he enjoyed it, but he had trouble focusing on what they were teaching him. This year with meds he did much better. He focused much better and passed through his level. I didn't see him sitting on the edge of the pool as he had too a couple of times last year.

Let us know what you decided to do.