Should You Force Your Child to Learn Karate?

Forcing your child to do an activity like Karate has become a hot topic in parenting circles. Some say that children should have the freedom to choose their activities, while others say that a physical activity that improves fitness and self-esteem is just what children need to keep them on the path to success in life. Should you force your child to learn Karate?

If a parent deems it beneficial, a child should be forced to learn karate. Parents (and guardians) already force children to do several things they don’t always want to do such as chores, homework, and brushing their teeth, all with the child’s best interests in mind. Karate should be no different.

Controlling what your children do and consume shouldn’t be looked at as a sign arbitrary authoritativeness. Forcing them to learn that discipline leads to higher confidence and can lead to some fantastic life paths is a parent’s most important job. Don’t start to second guess yourself! Read on and learn why you should force your child to learn Karate.

Benefits of Learning Karate

Learning a martial art like Karate teaches your child several vital things that they might not get from playing soccer or basketball. Often, kids who feel they don’t fit in or have a hard time feeling involved in other sports can find Karate’s challenge intriguing.

Some of the benefits of a child learning karate are:

  • Goal-Oriented Sport – There could be kids out there who don’t understand the point of scoring in other games. With Karate, they get a series of things they must accomplish to reach their next level. Kids love having a clear goal ahead of them, with concrete results waiting at the end. To learn about the karate belt system, read here.
  • Scalable Routines – The routines needed to advance in Karate are broken down into scalable pieces that combine to make more extensive routines. These smaller segments give kids a sense of accomplishment as they pile up. Showing themselves, they can accomplish small tasks is great for their self-esteem.
  • Practice Concentration Techniques – Another great reason to force your kid to learn Karate is that it forces them to learn concentration techniques. These techniques will teach them to control their anger and think before they act.
  • Safe and Effective Physical Training – While it sounds dangerous, Karate often focuses on getting excess energy out by practicing kicks and punches in a supervised way. Even when sparring, younger kids will wear protective gear for the head and body.

One of the best ways to reduce stress, get in shape, and learn valuable self defense skills is to utilize one of Karate’s most successful pieces of training equipment. The right kicking bag is a miracle worker when it comes to cardiovascular health and becoming proficient at the martial arts. Here is my recommendation of the best inexpensive kicking bag great for children, younger teens, and even moms! Check it out here on Amazon.

The benefits of Karate for kids are sometimes intangible. Insecurity and feeling alone can be hard for kids in today’s like-centered existence. Building accomplishments with Karate will show them that sticking things out, even when it is rough, is a valuable lesson that most people will never learn in life.

Reasons that Children Need Self-Discipline in Their Lives

Forcing your child to do things that they don’t want to do instills a sense of discipline in them.

While they may whine or try every way they can to get out of the activity, you must remain firm and stick to your guns. If you don’t, you are setting your child up for future failures, as well as creating a potentially disastrous environment at home. Leading with example is one of the most often used tactics in all fields; use it in the home.

Some reasons to teach your child self-discipline are:

  • Accountability – Teaching your child self-discipline will make them accountable for their actions. Once they have that sense of control, they will begin to make better choices and keep themselves out of trouble.
  • Increased Mood – When children learn to like being good, they have an uptick in their mood. They want to make you happy and know that being good will make their lives easier. Improved mood through discipline is one of the most valuable benefits of forcing them into doing things they might not want.
  • Build Self-Confidence – Teaching a child to learn self-discipline gives them a can-do attitude about life. It shows them that by staying committed and pushing through the hard times, there are great things on the other side.

Self-Discipline and Karate go hand-in-hand.

The key to winning this battle with your kids is staying committed no matter what. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take days off and try new things, but keep them committed to their practice of Karate and always be supportive.

There can be long term very negative consequences of all types when discipline is not maintained for children through either parental intervention or teaching them to self regulate. They begin to see themselves and their point of view as superior to their parents. This can then lead to resentment and even mistreatment of parents in later years.

To read more about the impact of discipline on children, read my wife’s article here about sons who treat their mothers poorly.

The Impact of Karate and Self-Discipline

Karate has a powerful effect on the mind. For kids, it manifests as an increase in energy and uptick in moodiness that is synonymous with growing children. These traits picked up during their lessons in the dojo are not easy to translate outside of the gym. Some ways to chart the impact of Karate on your child’s self-discipline are:

  • Grades – One of the biggest problems that some kids suffer from is test anxiety. When they practice breathing techniques and work through exercises to calm their minds, they can score better on tests and pay more attention during class.
  • Weight – The way kids eat has a massive impact on how their mood works. Keeping track of their weight as they advance in Karate will show weight lost or gained and prove the positive effects of the training.
  • Athletics – If the child is involved in other sports, there will be a noticeable change in their sports performance. They will become more coordinated and have much more energy and cardiovascular strength.
  • Screen Time – Today, kids are judged by how much time they spend on their electronic devices. When children get into Karate, they begin to spend more time practicing routines and Katas than checking out TikTok. 

There are always other intangibles that are much harder to put numbers to, like an uptick in mood and happiness. Communicating with your child is key. Judge your child’s perspective accordingly as they will begin to crave the exercise and challenge that the Dojo provides them. Practice being supportive and pushing them through the tough times.

Ways to Be Supportive During the Tough Times

No matter how long they have been practicing, they will get an itch to take a day off. An occasional day off isn’t a bad thing. It is often encouraged for those who have lots of other activities to spend some time doing self-care. When your child gets down, it is also your job to throw your arm around their shoulder and tell them things will be ok.

Our online program allows maximum flexibility while still providing responsibility and accountability. Parents can also control the environment that their kids train in at home. To learn more about how your child can participate, read here about our ONLINE PROGRAM.

Some ways to be supportive during the tough times in karate training:

  • Bring up the fun parts – One of the best ways to get your child’s mind in the right frame of mind to head into Karate is by talking about the parts they enjoy. This will give them hope that exercises giving them anxiety won’t be part of the session.
  • Tell them how proud you are – Tell them just how much you admire their effort. Sometimes that is all they will need to hear to push back the tired feelings and dive headfirst into a rough and tumble session.
  • “I enjoy watching you practice” – You’d be surprised how often just spending time with your child will make them want to do the activity more. Just let the child know that watching them do what they live brings you a sense of peace, and oddly enough, they will want to do the activity more.


Forcing your child to do Karate is not a bad thing. As a parent, your job is to make kids understand that a large part of life is doing something they may not want to do. Keeping them dedicated to Karate will instill a drive in them that will open larger doors for their lives and even offer a career.

Karate is a great way to build self-discipline in children. The exercise and concentration work their minds and bodies, relieving excess energy and easing their anxiety. Children shouldn’t be forced to do things that are bad for them. When it comes to something that benefits them in all phases of their life, it seems wrong to deny them of that activity.

Mathew Booe

Mathew Booe is a father of four, husband to Jackie since 1994, retired international competitor with over 50 wins, an international seminar instructor, a master instructor of hundreds of Little Ninjas each week, and the one bringing you the great content like you just read. Sign up for the newsletter to hear about his upcoming books before they are released to the public.

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