Does karate make kids more aggressive?
06/03/2008 at 21:33 PM

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?

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??


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


I am in the same situation. I have a 6 year old that is very energetic . What worked for you? I was thinking Tae Kwon Do.


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.



Hi Only,

My kids are also taking swimming lessons which they love. In addition, we tried out a karate class through the YMCA after looking at various schools in our area. We decided on the Y class b/c it was an introductory program. It also was considerably cheaper than the school programs we looked at. We wanted to make sure our kids were serious about taking karate before we made a financial commitment. All in all, they liked the class, however, they got a bit silly half way through the program. We decided to hold off on choosing a school b/c it's a lot of money for us right now. Once the kids are a little older, we plan on looking into karate classes again. Now, the kids seem content w/ swimming, which has does wonders for their self esteem. If the Y offers another karate class, a step up from the one my sons already attended, we may just try that. From our experience, though, I feel karate is an overall benefit to children. If parents can afford it, and the kids like it, I say go for it.


Karate is an excellent avenue. I have both my ADHD children in the sport. They 5 and 19 and started when they were 4 and 9. My 4 year old was shy and has a speech problem, he got so into it that he begged me to allow him to compete in tournaments. I did and he won 1st palce. My 10 year old also competed and won. Great sport! The only negative issue is the coat it is expensive, but well worth the benefits.


I think there are other good choices to choose from instead of karate. Soccer is a great choice to get them outside running around learning to play as a team player. Sports also teach self-esteem and confidence. I wouldn't worry too much at this age about trying to teach self-defense and discipline.

What I really wanted to comment on is that your son "having trouble" following directions and staying focused is perfectly normal for a boy his age. At that age, were were emphasizing with my son, no hitting, no kicking (other persons)


karate can be great for your kids, you need to check out all of the programs and see which one is the best fit for them


Just started my oldest son (6) in wrestling. It's free to the kids in our town, and my son seems to like it so far. I wld still love to do karate w/ my boys at some pt, but right now, it's a lot for us both timewise and financially.


I would suggest TKD over Karate. Also it is alot cheaper at the YMCA if you are already members. Does your Y have both karate and TKD? And yes the Gee, sparring gear, and even the t-shirt my son is to have for under his Gee does run into money. And I feel a little frustrated, because the gee we just got for our son ran small, so he probably will only wear it til summer.... atleast my younger son wants to do TKD so he will be able to wear it. He's old enough to start in the summer.

On a positive note... just wanted to tell you that my son is testing for his first belt tonight. He's excited... and I think nervous too. I do think it has been good for making him focus.

Good luck to you.


Hope your son does well. It is good to hear he is doing well in TKD. Let us know how he does.


Hi Only,
We tried a general Karate class through our local Y (no TKD was offered), and our boys liked it. The only problem was it was an intro class. To continue, the instructor wanted us to sign up at his school. This avenue was a lot more expensive. Also, the Y classes didn't advance, so we chose not to continue w/ them b/c our boys wld only be repeating the same class again after the first one ended.
I'm happy to hear that your son is enjoying TKD. I hope he sticks it out and continues to do well! Good luck!


I feel the world is becoming more aggressive each day and more and more without regard for human life. I feel while karate may help for minor defense, when an opponent or other person is bent on harm, they may resort to weapons that karate cannot handle.
I feel many persons bent on doing harm are much more without regard for human life and more impulsive, usually armed with more than size and weight.

I feel we should all learn how to see the mountains or trouble before it comes to us and learn how to be more aware of avoiding problems before they begin.

I feel our mental/emotional health along with stability to learn is more important today. I see abundance of energy in Males especially as the result of society's differential treatment of Males, which leads to higher average stress and more activity to release that stress. I feel everyone but mostly Males need to have guidance in approaching their world more delicately and differently to lower their average stress to maintain better mental/emotional stability (less need for energy release). This will also help maintain focus in learning. I feel higher average stress in students, especially Males is hurting concentration, learning, and motivation to learn.


Just wanted to tell you that my son did pass his test and now he is I'm told a second degree orange belt. He was/is so excited. It was a long night of almost 3 hrs sitting on the floor for their ceremony, but worth it with the smiles he had getting his belt. :)



Point taken. I still feel karate can benefit in many other ways however. Karate is not meant to teach aggression. It is only a means of self-defense. It also teaches self-control and can give children a feeling of accomplishment. I believe the key is finding the right school and the right instructor. The problem today is that many of these schools have become businesses. I think to find the right program, we must thoroughly research the schools in our areas and see which ones best fit our children's specific needs.


That's great, Only. You must be very proud of your son's accomplishments.
Just started wrestling w/ my oldest son. It's free through our town. Seems that the one on one sports work best for him. So far he's enjoying it. I'm just happy that he's sticking w/ it, even though the schedule is a bit demanding. As long as he likes it, though, I'm willing to stick it out w/ him. Also, for sensory purposes, it's been helpful.


Congrats to your son and you. By the time your children are grown you will have spent many hrs sitting and waiting during activities. The smiles make it so worth it though!


One comment I want to make is that if I felt that TKD with my son's disorders would make him more aggressive then I would never take him to it. From our experience so far TKD has taught my son to respect others and himself, to be a good listener, to be neat and kept in appearance (grooming/clothing/etc.), to be polite and courteous, etc.

Also when my son went through his first ceremony for a belt they were told that they (orange belts now) have the responsibility of helping those who are white belts (below them).I liked this because it wasn't that they should respect themselves but to help others who are inexperienced and learning. They were given this responsibility... and isn't that the way the world should be... helping others.

I could type out the rules my son has for his TKD (but it would be longggggg), but you would be amazed at the good qualities and morals being taught to them.

I am just happy to see that good morals are taught to my son, outside of my home with TKD as well. It has been a very positive experience for us and my youngest can't wait to take lessons when he is 5 next summer.