Most parents want to know if enrolling their child in a martial arts program is safe. While we want to provide an enriching life for our children that sets them up for a successful future, every part is afraid of their children being hurt. Yet, sports like football and baseball are a common part of school-sponsored physical activities. Are martial arts more dangerous for children than other sports? Of course, with any sport, there is always a small risk of injury, but martial arts is safer than most commonly played sports. If you’re concerned about your child’s safety when practicing martial arts, here’s what you should know.
The Data on Danger in Martial Arts
Statistics have been collected for several decades on martial arts related injuries as compared to non-combat sports injuries. You can find a lot of information on this topic online to help bring you comfort from being informed about the risk your child faces. The information ranges from simple stories told by other parents all the way to scientific studies published on government websites like the National Institute of Health.
The research on martial arts safety brings good news. The data currently shows that children are more likely to be injured when playing basketball or football than participating in martial arts.
Differences in Practice
It should be noted that there are differences in martial arts practices and even the types of practice within a given art. The likelihood of injury is quite different between a youth-only karate class and full contact MMA cage fighting for adults.
Your children won’t be participating in full-contact martial arts combat when they enroll in a class. In fact, sparring is usually optional if it is even offered for younger children. Karate classes tend to be largely non-contact and different in nature than jiujitsu, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts, which feature more contact. All styles of martial arts are safe with good instruction, but they differ.
Some dojos offer sparring as part of the martial arts practice. However, there is almost always an age limit set and sparring is done between people of equal size and skill. Sparring is supervised by trained instructors and teachers who have the best interest of their students in mind.
How Kids Stay Safe During Martial Arts Practice
Almost all dojos require various levels of protective gear for their students. Common gear includes a helmet to shield the head and gloves to protect the hands as well as soften strikes. Many dojos don’t allow striking above the chest at all. Your child’s martial arts class may also require vests that shield the body, as well as elbow and ankle cushions to keep both the striker and the other person safe. These protective items are just the basics—many dojos that teach children include even more protective gear.
If your child’s dojo offers sparring, they will likely be suited up like a giant marshmallow and protected by what amounts to a huge cushion. Studies also show that the injury rate increases with participants as they get older. The rate of injury increases above the age of 18 but decreases for younger participants. Simply put, most small children are not physically strong enough to cause significant harm to each other.
Physical Benefits of Martial Arts
Parents also should compare the minimal risks of any sport or activity like martial arts with the massive number of benefits for physical and mental health. Take some time to review other articles on this site to read about all the benefits martial arts can bring to your child. Some benefits from practicing martial arts include weight loss, an improved immune system, stronger self-discipline, less anxiety, more concentration, and so many others.
Do keep in mind that the injuries which are common to martial arts are the same that are common with other sports. Minor sprains are likely the biggest injury anyone deals with in martial arts, along with abrasions and bruises.
It’s worth considering another fact about safety and martial arts: your child will learn the basics of self-defense. Self-defense will help your child live a safer life, not just in their youth, but throughout their life. Most people never actually need to use self-defense skills but it’s good to have the knowledge.
Martial arts are a safe activity for children of all ages. If you have any concerns, even after reading this article, you can always discuss them with your child’s martial arts teacher. If your child is going to participate in any physical activity or sport, the martial arts continue to be a fun and safe option.
Ready to Start Your Martial Arts Journey?
Children benefit greatly from a martial arts practice, but finding the right martial arts studio can be difficult for parents. If you’re searching for a studio that prioritizes your child’s needs and their safety, Premier Martial Arts invites you to join the many child-centered martial arts programs we offer. Find one of our many studios near you to provide your child with a safe and healthy practice they can enjoy for their entire lives.