Sports and Exercise: Martial Arts and Self-Defense for Kids

I have always wanted the boys learn martial arts partly because martial arts promotes self-discipline and respect which are two values I believe to be very important. However, the main reason I wanted them to learn martial arts is because I have been concerned about their safety living in this part of the world where there are so many cases of children being taken from their parents. If you think I’m paranoid and overreacting, I don’t think it comes closer to home than when you hear about an incidence that your parents’ friends witnessed with their own eyes. It has become an endless worry for me whenever I take the boys out because even if I am constantly vigilant, I cannot guarantee that my boys will be safe. A recent incident about the 6 year old boy who lost his eyes was the final straw that convinced me I can rest no longer. Since the only thing more I can do is to prepare them by providing them with some measure of self-defense, I have been revisiting the idea of martial arts classes.

There are numerous benefits of martial arts for children, some of which include:

  • fitness
  • self-defense
  • self-discipline
  • respect
  • self-confidence
  • focus and concentration

When we talk about children and martial arts, I think the two that come to most minds are karate and taekwondo. Whilst I’m sure they are both great forms of martial arts, I have come to believe that there are better forms of martial arts available specially for children. In recent times, kung fu (especially Wing Chun) has come into the limelight after all the exposure from the Ip Man movies. Given the history of Wing Chun being a style of kung fu that was created to transcend size, weight, and gender, it would seem to be more appropriate as a form of self-defense for children who would usually be smaller than their attackers. The gentle movements are also kinder to little growing bodies.

Another form of martial arts that I recently became aware of that I felt warranted attention is Aikido.

aikidoWhat is Aikido?

“Regardless of how fast or slow my attacker advances, I will not be taken off guard nor defeated. This is not because my technique is faster than that of my opponent. Fast and slow are of no consequence. The contest has already been decided from the beginning, merely by having the intention to fight with one who embodies the universe, my attacker has fixed his mind on violating the harmony of nature itself. In other words, the moment my attacker fixes his attention on fighting with me, he has already lost.” – Morihei Ueshiba

Aikido is a way to achieve physical and psychological self-mastery. It is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing the force head-on. This requires a minimal amount of physical energy. Like Wing Chun, Aikido allows smaller and weaker individuals to defeat larger and heavier opponents. If you are not convinced, you should watch this Youtube video where they sent a karate black belt and a professional mixed martial artist up against a man who had been practicing Aikido for 25 years. To put it in a nutshell, the Aikidoka disabled the two martial arts experts within seconds. It was nothing short of amazing.

The other thing about Aikido that sold me is that Aikido is as much about physical development as it is about developing the mind (which was part of the reason why I was looking at Qigong classes in the first place). Although I’m sure that Aikido is a far cry from Qigong, I felt that it can help with the kind of mental discipline I want the boys to develop. With Aikido, they would be killing two birds with one stone – self-defense and mental discipline.

Although I was pretty much sold on Aikido, it will take time before the boys become proficient enough at it for it to be useful for self-defense. A much better option would be to go straight to the crux of the issue and take self-defense classes for children so they learn how to assess the situation quickly, remain calm, and escape from their attacker. Unfortunately, like Aikido and Qigong before it, there aren’t many places offering classes for children. If you know of any, please leave a comment below.


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

2 thoughts on “Sports and Exercise: Martial Arts and Self-Defense for Kids

  1. Hi
    There is an akido class for kids at the Menjalara community centre. My son (10) and my daughter (5) goes for that class and both enjoy it very much (Friday evenings at 8pm). The instructor’s name is Marcus. You can go for a trial class and see whether your kids like it or not. Yes, you are right. There are not many places that offers akido for kids..


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