Kids’ Karate Builds Physical Skills Part 2

Welcome to Part 2, my second blog about how kids’ karate builds physical skills. You can read Part 1 here. Karate kids learn and apply practical physical abilities. Children who don’t take martial arts will be hard-pressed to learn the karate-specific benefits like those gained in our kids’ karate programs. These skills help them in life-protection and in other areas of life.


Without considering the moral implications, let’s think of different ways for a child to learn to protect himself from a physical attacker. The most dangerous, yet still effective, would be for him to fight a lot. He could pick fights at school, on the street, or wherever he could try to get away with it. Or he could wrestle with his family members at home. Fighting or wrestling at home would lessen the risk of lawsuits and expulsions, but would still risk injuries. Plus it would only offer limited skills to learn.

For another option, he could take wrestling in junior high and high school. There, the safety level would go way up. Plus, his skill-learning potential would increase. But he has to be a certain age for that, and wrestling’s self-defense applications are still limited. He could learn martial arts on the cheap from an unskilled, unprofessional teacher. But that would be like a dangerous, random mix of all the prior options.

kids' karate teaches self-defense

Practicing self defense in a kids’ karate class.

Instead, I recommend that he trains in traditional karate with skilled, professional teachers, in a style taught and proven over centuries. That is the best path for children, both boys and girls, to practice for the ability to handle themselves in physical confrontations. They will have the benefit of light-contact sparring under trained, watchful eyes. They will practice partner work on self-defense and other skills. Not to mention wrestling and other competitions with rules and supervision to ensure safety. The many different partner activities set up and taught by skilled instructors are some ways that kids’ karate builds physical skills.


In classes, we work on targeting skills. We punch and kick stationary as well as moving targets. We work on various techniques for moving our bodies around the mat. That improves our balance and gracefulness. The above-mentioned partner work, in addition to other drills, helps us improve our agility and dexterity. When we are training in karate, we are almost always moving. For kids, this means that they constantly get used to using their growing bodies, taller perspective and longer limbs as they consistently grow. Regular training in kids’ karate builds physical skills while their bodies change.

We applaud the super awesome “ninja skills” that karateka of all ages develop in training. Kids’ karate builds physical skills such as stamina, muscle tone, balance, agility, eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, speed and shortened reaction time. I especially prefer traditional Okinawan karate to other martial arts. It’s because this type of karate is practical and can be pursued through life. For example, we don’t force children to do the splits or train in back flips. Those skills are not practical in life protection. Plus training like that can result in degraded physical abilities for the student just a few decades later. For a slightly different take on how martial arts benefit children, here is an article by Eric C. Stevens.

Partner work in kids' karate.

Karate kids doing a partner drill.

Jenifer Tull-Gauger

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