I'm 14 and I would love to start training for Krav Maga but I'm not sure if I'm too young to start. Can I start training at 14?
Yes, most Krav Maga places accept students even as young as 5 years old when they have children's classes. At age 14, you're physically able to be in the adult classes, so that shouldn't be any concern.
You didn't say why you wanted to learn it. But at age 14, I am going to recommend against it for you. And I'll explain why.
There are a number of publicized cases of kids in elementary, middle, and high school using Krav Maga against bullies in school. But it often results in them being punished, suspended, or even expelled. In some particularly bad cases, it results in them being put into juvenile detention. Why?
The reason is that Krav Maga was originally designed for the military. The intent behind it is to use the most "effective" technique to down your opponent as quickly and efficiently as possible. That sounds great for when your life is in jeopardy, but that's almost never the case with defending against bullies in school.
As a result, when kids have used Krav Maga in the past in school on their classmates, it has often resulted in serious injuries which in some cases were potentially life threatening. When school administration staff see serious injuries done to another student, they are going to demand serious punishment, including suspensions, expulsions, and even juvenile detention.
Let me give you a real-world example that I saw a while ago:
In the example at the link above, the main issue for me is that this school girl used a technique that used a lot of leverage and therefore power to slam her classmate's head against a desk.
That's straight out of Krav Maga training: head slamming from a standing arm-bar. This resulted in a broken nose, fractured orbital, and a shoulder dislocation. Those are some pretty serious injuries, caused by a technique done with a recklessly high level of force (which comes from using the leverage and torque that this technique provides).
Many people online praised this girl for her victory against the bully. But the problem I have with it is that this stopped being self-defense when the girl chose to head-slam her opponent into a hard, fixed object (a desk in this case). That's assault with a deadly weapon and intent to kill.
That's simply not appropriate for self-defense. It's only appropriate when you have no other choice, and this girl had ample time to deescalate the situation. She lacked the maturity and perspective needed to control herself.
She herself may not have been completely at fault, either. This is how she was trained. It was drilled into her from the first day of class that this is how you respond to aggression. The problem is, it's a one size fits all solution. Not every situation is a battlefield.
Which is why I say don't do Krav Maga if you're still young and in school like you are. There are better choices available which would give you more control over the level of force you use.
In particular, I highly recommend Gracie Jiu Jitsu and most other forms of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so long as they're not just "sport" oriented. That is, assuming you're interested in practical self-defense.
Gracie Jiu Jitsu would give you far more control over the level of force you use in self-defense. And it has a proven track record for being effective. The first two years are almost always non-sport-based. In other words, it's all self-defense until blue belt. They even have an anti-bully program for children and teens.
All my advice here applies to boys and girls equally, by the way. And if you're a girl, it's not a problem. I haven't seen any all-male Jiu Jitsu schools out there. They're usually co-ed, and some even have female-only classes in addition to their co-ed classes.
Another good option is Wrestling, if your school offers it. If you're a girl, Wrestling clubs are often for boys only, but that's changing rapidly these days. I say go for it if it's something you want to do as a girl.
I know you didn't want to get a lecture on Krav Maga and the use of force, but I felt if I were 14 years old looking to get into martial arts, I would want to be told everything I just told you.
Hope that helps.
There is nothing physically preventing you from doing Krav Maga. As per Mike P's comment, the question is whether your local school will accept you. Some schools have age limits, possibly because they feel intense training is harmful at that age, for insurance purposes, or because they prefer to cater to a particular age range.
Certainly you could 'study' Krav Maga at any age really.
To do serious physical training, I'd wait until 18.
Some of your joints are sill finishing forming until around so any serious training which uses a lot of locks and twists on you joints might be unwanted.
Same goes for other full impact sports, including weightlifting.
At 14, I'd concentrate now on stretching as much as possible to make that transition to some serious training more prepared.
Also at 14 perhaps begin with Aikido / Judo as a baseline. This will give you a good foundation once you want to transition to more westernised close combat techniques.
As Steve Weigland has pointed out, it depends on your motif. If you just want to do it for workouts, that's totally fine: you'll have a good condition and learn a lot of useful techniques for fighting. Also, most of the schools have a separate children's class under the age of 18, because there they focus more on bullying and other similar problems which require a totally different reaction than when someone tries to kill you on the streets.
But you'll always have to keep in mind that having such knowledge and practice is also a great responsibility. Learning Gracie Jiu Jitsu is a great entry into the world of martial arts: although you are not using kicks and punches, you'll get the best foundations for ground-figthing (used in higher level Krav Maga as well), safe locking techniques and great physical power with good self-control.
And don't worry about being "the girl" in the classes, if that's the case: for many years I was the only girl on the Krav Maga and Jiu Jitsu trainings I went to, which gave me a more practical knowledge, as in most of the cases girls are being attacked by boys/men.
So my advice would be the following to you:
- join a children's Krav Maga class if you have one in your area and want to have a practical physical education with an anti-bullying side
- join an adult's Krav Maga class if you live in a dangerous area where even getting home in safety is an everyday challenge
- start doing Gracie Jiu Jitsu if you want a solid techniqual and physical background which will be useful later on in almost any of the martial arts versions (especially in Krav Maga and MMA), and it's also good for self-defence
Also, if you would give us some more details about why you want to do Krav Maga, we'd be able to give you more precise answers.