Starting kids Judo training should not be a difficult task: just find a good school and coach that you like (coach, not sensei). This simple task is vastly complicated by parents’ flowed expectations. This is right, and not only for Judo, but for any sport kid training. Yes – sport, as martial art training, be it in Judo or any other style, should and can be started only when your kid will reach certain maturity. Before this, no it will be beneficial, nor practically possible as personal maturity is an absolute requirement for effective Martial Art study. The needed level of maturity normally attained no early that at early teens, but often – especially in our nowadays overprotective society – much later, sometimes well in twenties, when kids already getting out into their own life and out of our guidance.
So, when talking about kids’ martial art training (as way I’m using it on this site) we’re really talking about sport training – be it competitive or recreational – based on martial arts.
Judo as a sport discipline is an excellent all-around training exercise.
Judo is a competitive sport. As in any other sport, a question is popping up: how to balance child physical and mental development goals with junior high-achievement sport life. We all disgust (well, most of us) with middle-school girls taking top trophies in women gymnastic events (with heavy toll for their health and quality of life)... Well, its hot topic on its own that can take us completely away...
Studies in Germany in mid-60th and 70th on equestrian (horse riding) youth training yield interesting and well applicable observations: as serious training in equestrian Olympic disciplines can’t be started before age of 18 (as persistent multi-hour riding needed for top-level sport achievements can cause leg and spinal deformity in growing kids), young adults who were put on a horse at age of five and taught elementary riding skills and then didn’t ride till 18, were progressing much faster than their peers without such experience (even they subjectively barely remembered their early childhood rides). What they did in-between five and 18? Just been kids – kids active in variety of athletic sports.
Kids Judo training can be started at age of five (I even saw four-years-old “judokas” -:) as a fun-filled recreational activity. The coach/teacher should be all-fun child-oriented educator (with minimal Judo skills, just as his or her title formally requires; if it’s more than minimal? excellent! but it’s not required!). Parents should not expect (and question) their kids Judo or any practical physical self-defense skills in a year or two (usable social skills should develop as age-appropriate). This can be complemented by participation in any other athletic activities.
As kids will reach age of 12 the interests in Judo as a sport or as a martial art will form itself and, if kid decided to do so, real combat sport or martial art study can begin on the health foundation and with early accrued relevant motor skills. In two or three years (depends on kid’s development stages) entering the world of serious competitive sport is possible and the start of rigorous Martial Art training is possible.
At this point the youth coach giving way to the Martial Arts Master, the Sensei.
How to find a good Sensei? Like anything in the Life – by observation, by chance, and by good luck... The other pages on this site will help you to make sense of your observations and to see it when you’ll by chance... and only by chance... will cross upon true Martial Arts Teacher...