The Best Martial Arts For Kids ~ Shocking Studies Revealed!

    When selecting the best martial arts for kids, it’s important to do your research and understand what you are introducing your children to. With so many opinions being thrown at you, It can be difficult to know how to choose the best martial arts style and program for your kids.

    In this article, I’m going to highlight some shocking research studies to help you make the best decision. After seeing this information, you will know how to choose the best martial arts style for your kids.

    Choosing The Best Martial Arts For Kids

    Kid's BJJ T-Shirt

    The first step is to decide that your kids can benefit from this art form. Congratulations on leaping into a new journey. The second step is selecting the best martial arts for kids.

    For many practitioners, this will be the best experience of their lives and completely change their outlook for the better. However, before you commit to a specific program in your area, it is important to know the main differences and separate benefits of each style.

    There can be an overwhelming amount of martial arts styles and you aren’t limited to only learning one. Many professional fighters and combat sports athletes might argue that it’s best to know multiple martial arts styles and become well-rounded. Here a few of the most popular and effective martial arts that are suitable for children.

    Best Martial Arts For Kids (Only Grappling)



    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - Also known as BJJ for short, is a grappling martial art derived from judo and made into a sport primarily focused on dominant control and submitting the opponent through chokes and joint manipulations.


    Since its historic roots stem from in Judo, takedowns are involved. A policy of teaching jiu jitsu kids how to ‘break fall’ is a common policy for many BJJ gyms. Focus on the submission aspects of grappling is emphasized rather than throws is common as well.


    This martial art has become popularized in the mainstream due to both professional MMA as well as it’s effectiveness on controlling much larger opponents without inflicting damage which can be a great option if the intent of joining a martial art is to defend against bullies.

    Zac Cunningham teaching BJJ classes for kids at Gracie Academy

    Brazilian jiu-jitsu is typically practiced in what’s known as a ‘gi’. No-gi grappling is also available with similar rulesets but slightly different from gripping the gi not being an option. Many past wrestlers may favour no-gi better due to this uniform difference. No-gi BJJ practitioners wear jiu jitsu rash guards and BJJ spats instead of a gi. 

    BJJ girls in womens jiu jitsu spats

    "Best Spats We Have! Very comfortable, we wear them all the time! Thanks @submission.shark" - Kaitlyn, Daniela, and Meghan

    Judo - A popular traditional martial art. Similar to Brazilian jiu-jitsu except there is a larger emphasis on the throws and takedowns. Much like wrestling, judo has a great style for neutralizing an opponent and closing the dangerous striking zone and allowing control of others.

    Learning how to properly break fall and using crash mats when first starting is essential for ensuring the safety of new practitioners.

    Wrestling - Another grappling art that is effective at controlling an opponent. Its primary objective is to ‘pin’ another practitioner against the mats holding them there for 3 seconds. Takedowns are also involved.

    This style is a great introduction to transferring a fight from standing strikes to grappling on the ground. The barrier to entry is much easier than many other martial arts as it is often offered in school programs as an extracurricular.

    Best Martial Arts For Kids With Only Striking

    Boxing - The sweet science. A more popular striking art than Muay Thai, boxing has more rules in terms of the attacks and grappling capabilities allowed in a match. Fists are the only weapons you can use. 


    The body mechanics that a child can learn from an instructor can be a great form of mental exercise as well as a physical one. It is important to note that this is a striking sport that allows punches to both the head and body. Proper precautions should be taken to ensure the safety of a child in this martial art.

    Taekwondo - A lightning-fast striking art. Punches are allowed in some taekwondo federations but mainly only to the body. Kicks are emphasized and encouraged by rewarding more points in some organizations.

    This ruleset can be effective at teaching children reaction time, accuracy, focus and agility. If you find a school that only allows strikes to the body, this can help prevent head trauma while still being able to learn a striking sport.

    Martial Arts With Both Striking and Grappling

    Muay Thai - The art of eight limbs. A striking art that allows for attacks with both fists, sins/feet, knees and elbows. Grappling is also involved with a standing clinch were practitioners can throw and trip opponents onto the ground. 

    Kick Boxer Girl

    However, contact is broken after a fighter falls to the ground. They will be let back up to continue to compete if they can. Some gyms and tournaments will have strict regulations due to the greater chances of head traumas. More details on the safety of each style will be expressed further in this article.

    Karate - Hollywood didn’t make a movie about the karate kid for no reason. Karate is one of the most popular and traditional forms of martial arts. 

    Karate originates from feudal Japan and over the decades have branched off into different styles of karate including Shotokan, Wado-Ryu, Kyokushinkai and Goju-Ryu. Depending on the style, kicks, knees, elbows, and punches are allowed. Some styles of karate also allow a small amount of joint manipulation and throws.

    Mixed Martial Arts - A combination of them all. Perfect for those that can’t quite decide which individual sport would be best for them. It’s a mix of a vast amount of information and techniques to learn that will keep a child busy even into adulthood.

    However, there is a cautionary study about the tendencies of aggressive behaviour in these athletes. You would want to learn more detail below if you or your child is interested in MMA.

    If you tried one of these martial arts and haven’t enjoyed the experience, that shouldn’t deter you or your kids from trying a different style. Often, practitioners will have their personal preference and it can be helpful to join gyms that offer multiple styles or continuing to try new martial arts until you find one that brings you passion and other benefits.

    Study Suggests: Jiu Jitsu Kids Have Better Social Skills

    Researchers from the faculty of Education at Kristianstad University in Sweden explored the socio-psychological development among young martial arts practitioners.

    Over the time frame of 5 months, they studied 113 youth participants training either MMA or BJJ and what they found was astonishing. The study showed that all MMA practitioners and jiu jitsu kids displayed an increase in pro-social behaviour and better self-control.

    However, it is important to note that MMA participants also displayed increased aggressiveness while the Brazilian jiu jitsu kids showed lower signs of aggression. The researchers did mention that many MMA fighters showed much-higher pre-existing aggression levels than jiu jitsu kids. 

    Frank Ungaro at Passador BJJ Anti-Bullying Program

    They concluded by stating that mixed martial arts may not be suitable for at-risk youths with aggressive tendencies. Traditional martial arts with an emphasis on philosophical teachings may be effective at enhancing social skills. Improved social behaviours are common among BJJ kids. 

    Jiu jitsu kids can often find themselves joining a community and becoming better members of society. This study indicates that Brazilian jiu-jitsu may be the best martial arts for kids when it comes to developing social skills and reducing aggressive behaviours.

    The Best Martial Arts For Kids When It Comes To Safety 

    When learning about the safety of martial arts, a common question relates to head trauma. Developing youths are susceptible to damage from head injuries and this issue shouldn’t be ignored. It is important to understand that martial arts can be a contact sport if sparring is included. 

    You can still gain many benefits of martial arts training without having to spar. However, if you plan on competiting, avoiding all sparring is unrealistic. Selecting grappling only martial arts can be a great way to prevent or lower the risk of concussions as well. As a parent, guardian or participant it is important to understand the dangers of concussions for martial arts kids. 

    Be cautious when selecting a striking art for your kids. There is a safe way to learn these styles and dangerous ways as well. Finding a reputable gym is more important than selecting a martial arts style.

    This study researched 9,181 injuries from practitioners participating in MMA, BJJ and judo presenting to U.S. EDs from 2008 through 2015. 

    The researchers discovered that sprains and strains were the most common causes of hospital injuries for BJJ and Judo participants. MMA injuries were mostly abrasions and contusions. Only three martial arts were studied but based on the nature of the other ones mentioned in our list that wasn’t included in the study, a good sense of similar outcomes can be expected.

    Many other non-contact sports have high rates of injuries as well due to accidents. A track and field athlete might sprain an ankle and a volleyball play runs the risk of colliding heads resulting in a concussion when two teammates rush to keep the ball from touching the ground.

    With the high amount of injuries, is martial arts still safe for kids? Well, it depends. If you are training responsibly you can avoid many injuries and by being proactive with safety equipment, you can minimize many injuries.

    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Passador BJJ School

    Maximize the benefits by entering your kids into the best martial arts school, ensure they have excellent equipment and educate them on how to prevent injuries and learn how to recover from them in case an accident occurs. The minor injuries associated should not cause you to avoid the major benefits gained from martial arts.

    Do You Agree That This Is The Best Martial Arts For Kids?

    If you had to pick the best martial arts for kids, which one would it be and why is it Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

    With all jokes aside, I hope this guide and research studies can help you make the best investment for your child’s martial arts journey. As someone that started with Muay Thai, wrestling and boxing and only translated into BJJ in my adulthood, I can honestly say that each style has many benefits.

    However, Brazilian jiu-jitsu seems to be the best option for safety and longevity allowing me to continue with my passion for martial arts. It opened up a new world of life-changing experiences and positive influences within my life, it might just do the same for you or your kids as well.

    Finding The Best Martial Arts Academy

    Now that you know what the best martial arts for kids are, you might want to find out why jiu jitsu kids are awesome to get a better understanding of the benefits of martial arts for children.

    If you’re an adult that’s never trained in a martial art before, I’d suggest you browse this BJJ for beginners blog to learn more about the benefits of jiu jitsu and more information on where to begin.

    As mentioned earlier, finding the best gym in your area is a crucial step. That’s why we interviewed Rob from Mcdojo life to help you understand the warning signs of a bad martial arts school.

    How To Shop For The Best BJJ Gear For Jiu Jitsu Kids

    Youth no-gi grappler in a Kids Jiu Jitsu Rash Guards holding a Submission Shark BJJ Brand patch

    Shopping for kids jiu jitsu gear can be a difficult experience. You would need to find a reliable supplier for your BJJ gear. Reading jiu jitsu gear reviews from BJJ kids can be a helpful way to start your search for the best BJJ gear. 

    Honest reviews that a popular BJJ gi brand received on their jiu jitsu gear.

    BJJ girl in a blue and black jiu jitsu gi from Submission Shark

    "Bought this BJJ Gi for my Granddaughter and she loves it!
    Keep up the Great work"

    black jiu jitsu gi and red BJJ rash guard from Submission Shark

    "Thank you for the awesome Jiu Jitsu gear I just purchased, I love it."

    Jiu Jitsu Kids In Submission Shark BJJ Gear


    Martial Arts Training Videos of Kids BJJ gi from Submission Shark jiu jitsu gear

    Two Boys Yelling in Martial Arts T-Shirts

    After reading this article, what do your philosophies on the best martial arts for kids? Did the research support your prior beliefs? Leave a comment below if you have jiu jitsu kids or any other martial arts children. Make sure to check out the 7 reasons why every child needs jiu jitsu for more information. Raina's story of how BJJ helped her get through bullying as a child is a great read for any child that can relate or a parent that wants to see a positive change.

    Find out what the best martial arts is for kids

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