What would prove more effective/efficient for a young kid to learn from a young age, 3-4 years old, and later on use in survival situations when they are still not fully grown, 10-15 years old.

I'm looking for something that would be highly effective for young girls particularly, but of course boys as well.

3-4 would be the age they begin learning, not the age they will be fending off bullies or attackers.

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    "What martial art should I do question #78395833"
    – coinbird
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 15:50
  • @coinbird that's my question. What would be better, most effective, easier for young kids. Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 16:09
  • It may seem a useful tip, but it may not be true. Claims like that need to be provided as an answer with sources to back it up.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 14:13
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    – Huw Evans
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


Age 3 is a little early, as children of that age do not yet have an inclination towards discipline, focus, etc. - they are still learning the basics of socialization and behavior.

However, once they get to 4 or 5 years of age, you might consider Gracie Jiu-Jitsu if you have an academy nearby. They have a highly developed curriculum called Bullyproof, which is intended for children ages 5 - 13. But 4 year-olds seem to be regularly admitted.

Children up to 7 years of age, participate in a class called Little Champs:

The Little Champs program is for kids 5-7 years old (we offer private lessons for children ages 3-4). Using our time-tested “Gracie Games,” we teach the Little Champs basic self-defense techniques while instilling the foundational principles of leverage and control. The secret to the success of this program is that we make the lessons so fun that the kids beg for more! Once a child masters all ten Gracie Games, they advance to the Jr. Grapplers program.

Graduating from Little Champs, kids 8 years and up move into Junior Grapplers:

In the Jr. Grapplers program, we focus on 33 non-violent self-defense techniques that teach children to “neutralize and negotiate” with the bullies. Verbal assertiveness strategies are a major portion of this curriculum. A child needs absolutely no experience to start, and we guarantee a noticeable increase in your child’s confidence within a few weeks!

As your daughter comes of age, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu also offers Women Empowered:

Women Empowered is the official Gracie self-defense program for women. In this 10-lesson program, we will teach you how to neutralize the 15 most common attacks ranging from having your hair grabbed to being pinned to the ground by a weapon-bearing assailant.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is not concerned with competition, and has a bully / street defense focus.

On the competition side, our new home for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training is a Lucas Lepri Association academy. Their curriculum for children is not only applicable to bully / street defense, but also allows for a focus on sport oriented Jiu-Jitsu if desirable.

They have classes for children 3 -5 (Little Champions), 6 - 9 (Junior Champions), and 10 - 13 (Junior Champions II).

To select a martial art for our son, we researched numerous styles (Shotokan Karate, Taekwondo, Mudo, Kung Fu, and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu), and attended classes in each. We ultimately settled on Jiu-Jitsu because of its nature and reputation for being the gentle art. Unlike Krav Maga and the other classes we attended, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, for the most part, is a non-striking art. It relies on intelligence and leverage over brute force. It teaches techniques that instill options for de-escalating confrontations and avoiding harm to the adversary, which is prudent on the playground.

My son, who is now 8, has attended the Jiu-Jitsu schools mentioned above, and has benefited tremendously from both disciplines in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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    Why not judo? Or karate when it comes to it? Or any kung-fu without the wrist locking chin na. Or wrestling? Or boxing. (this answer seems biased there are good reasons why some of the above are not suitable but you should explain these to be clear)
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 11:52
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    @HuwEvans The OP tagged the question with Krav Maga and Ju Jutsu, which compelled me to answer from my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experience. My answer describes why. I'm definitely biased, given that I cannot speak for all fighting styles – I have not practiced, studied, or experienced all of them. However, I've tried to follow a bit of your suggestion, to clarify my answer a little further as to why we chose BJJ.
    – jacefarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 12:33
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    @HuwEvans He doesn't have to explain "why not" every other MA in existence... This is a solid answer.
    – coinbird
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 14:06
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    It's just like an advert. If I gave an answer talking about my local club which teaches 5 year olds would that be a good answer? If so we would have two conflicting 'good answers' which is exactly what we don't want.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 15:35
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    I agree. The problem is the question. But I could equally explain that krav maga is more useful as children are small and a striking art is more useful than grappling against stronger attackers. It's not a question that can be answered I think it should be closed.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 16:38

Nothing. 3-4 year olds do not take martial arts for self-defense. Their mode of self-defense rests entirely in the hands of their care-takers - parents and teachers.

The same is probably true for that 10-15 year old crowd as well. But these people can learn some self-defense which is practical, since it can be assumed they are not always under the watch of a parent or teacher: they can go out into the neighborhood and be by themselves. The older ones, at least.

But in this case, it isn't the style that's important - it's the instructor. No sense determining the best style for your child, only to find out that the only instructor in a 100-mile radius of you is a boob.

However, there are things that can be done to improve a child's chances for survival in self-defense, and it doesn't require a martial art or combat sport or self-defense clinic.

They should be taught at an early age about appropriate touches (so this goes to both sex abuse as well as aggressive physical contact - and everything in between).

They should be taught about the most effective weapons they have at their disposal - their voice - and how they can properly use it. Not just to call attention to rid themselves of a batterer, a kidnapper, a sexual predator, or a bully; but also that voice should be used to contact a trusted person when they feel they've been violated.

They should be taught to keep physically fit, so that in need to run away - or perhaps overpower someone - they might have the strength and/or stamina to do so.

I think a full contact sport can be helpful, as it might help them understand the experience they feel when adrenaline starts flowing, and to know what it feels like to get hit in the face or the stomach, and in a safe way. Such can completely frighten a bullied child who has never been hit before.

In the end, I wouldn't label any of this "self-defense" or "martial arts" per se; rather, it is a development of a healthy lifestyle. That lifestyle can make the difference between a child looking like a target (and therefore, inviting attack), and a child looking like maybe it's better to find another mark instead.

  • Thank you for your answer. All you wrote makes sense, but what I meant when I mentioned 3-4 year olds, is the time they would start training so that at an older age, 10-15 they could effectively defend themselves. So I was wondering, what kind or martial arts a 3 year old would find easier to learn. Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 19:30
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    @shieldedtulip: Sorry to say that, but given they are not freaks of some kind, physically speaking, 10-15 year-olds cannot defend against a full grown man with intention. Do not allow people to fool you: Size and muscle weight DO matter. Even if they were highly trained, their best self-defense is RUNNING. Like really fast and enduring. Everything else, if successful, relies on pure luck, which is nothing I would base the well-being of my children on. They may learn to hurt someone, perhaps even quite badly, but hurt men with intention are only more dangerous. Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 19:38
  • Good point. Thank you. I used my teeth to great success, combined with my voice. Just thought there might be something better. Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 19:41
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    I do not disagree: Children and Teens can and should be taught martial arts and (all) aspects of self-defense. I just wanted to point out that being a good martial artist at this (or any other, really) age does by no means mean that one is able to defend oneself against an aggressive, bigger person. Since it is the standard case that they are smaller in that age, it is fallacious to assume self-defense capabilities because of, even good, martial arts training. There are other important advantages and skills you learn there, too, though (strength, awareness, presence, etc.). Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 20:16
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    A fight they've run away from, is a fight they've won, because... they survived. The fight they could have had, no longer mattered, not even one bit.
    – jacefarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 2:17

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