The 5 Best Martial Arts Perfect For Young Girls To Try Out

Our little girls are our treasures. Yet, they become much more vulnerable than we like to think about as they grow and become more independent. Peace of mind as they go out into the world is a valuable thing. There is a way to mitigate some of the stress we may feel as parents as they venture further and further from the nest.

There are 5 very good martial arts for young girls that will teach them self defense and prepare them for more adult style techniques in the teen years. Here are the top 5 best martial arts for young girls that are safe and fun for them to try.

  1. Karate
  2. Taekwondo
  3. Kung Fu
  4. Judo
  5. Kali

There are also several that should be reserved for later in the teen years Even the styles above have techniques that should be regulated when it comes to kids. Most do. Yet they do a good job at restricting underaged children from using them. These next three really have not put these measures in place universally and may need to be avoided until maybe the teen years.

  1. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  2. Krav Maga
  3. Mixed Martial Arts

Great Martial Arts For Young Girls At A Glance

According to experts, martial arts improves everything from mental acuity to bone density in girls. In a study done by researchers at Kyung Hee University, Yongin City, Korea it was discovered that skeletal muscle fitness, bone density, flexibility, speed, agility, and overall cardio vascular fitness were greatly increased in girls participating in regular martial arts training.

Martial arts also instill respect, loyalty, confidence, and honor in young children. Every martial art has its own advantages and disadvantages, which are different from the above-mentioned values. However, whatever martial art a parent chooses for their child, they will obtain several psychological and physical benefits from these studying these arts.

This article will have a thorough overview of the best five martial arts suitable for tying out by younger girls. The article will give parents tips on choosing the best martial arts for young girls and other details about children and martial arts.

If your Little Ninja Princess likes to color, I have a Karate Coloring book that she will love. I hand drew the pictures and labeled each with a different character building word. I recommend it for any girl interested in martial arts and you can get it hear on Amazon.

Karate For Girls

The origin of this martial art can be traced back to the 1300s. Including its recent inclusion in the Olympic Games, it is one of the most renowned and respected martial arts globally. This alone makes it something that girls can be a part of that is bigger than themselves. Confidence and respect are products of a healthy sense of tradition and ones proper place in history.

Karate does involve traditional weapons, but their use is limited usually to upper belt levels and older children. What this martial art does focus on is a full-body workout. The majority of conventional karate classes instill learners with the discipline of incorporating martial arts as a routine of life and concentrating on self rather than their opponents.

This art is suitable for young girls interested in gaining striking skills using their hands and feet. Balance is central in a Karate system and it manifests in the style’s equal use of upper and lower body techniques. Its philosophical lessons teach learners to lead a balanced and happy life.

The Philosophy Of ‘No Mind’ For Girls

The art of Karate majorly focuses on concentration and the idea of ‘No Mind’. For girls as they grow into adulthood this could be a major reliever of stress and a tremendous help if a fight or flight situation should arise. It entails keeping the mind clear of distractions and focusing on the environment and tasks at hand.

This truly helps when hard decisions arise, emotions are heightened, or quick reactions are called for. Starting this type of training inherent in Karate for young girls could be invaluable later.

Long And Short Term Goal Setting

Breaking boards and ‘kata‘ (predefined movement patterns) make up a significant component of the training process. Both of these teach mind over matter and expand the memory capabilities to help girls face challenges throughout life with fearless resolve.

Board breaking is about teaching mind over matter and accomplishing things that a young mind may not be able to envision. Many girls start off scared that a board break may hurt too much or be unattainable for them, only to find that it becomes one of their favorite parts of Karate training.

Kata exercises the mind as well as the body. Controlling the breath, foot placement, exact hand shape and height, all while being observed by those that know exactly how it should look is a great feeling of accomplishment. This also takes a great deal of developed fortitude to master.

Benefits Of Karate For Young Girls

If you would like to know more about my Little Ninja Online Karate Class, that is chocked full of adorable little girls by the way, then read all about it here on my Little Ninja Online Dojo page.

Karate will develop in a young girl the confidence to know that they can control how they perform and life is not simply a series of random events. She will take pride in the fact that she is using her power, which will help her set goals and achieve them without fail, even if failure is part of the process.

Additionally, and most importantly, young girls will develop self defense skills through learning karate. This brings us back to the original topic of this post. We ultimately are looking for our girls to go through life in the safest manner possible. We know there will be bumps and bruises along the way. We just want them to help them grow and not leave scars.

Karate can help them pick themselves up when life knocks them down, and knock down others who try to take advantage of them. This can turn bad experiences into learning moments.

Taekwondo For Little Girls

The Korean art of Taekwondo is a popular choice for parents of little girls. It often is on the list of most preferred martial arts for parents choosing martial arts for their children. However, even though taekwondo is great for boys, young girls benefit greatly from studying it.

Children enhance their flexibility, muscle strength, and balance in TKD through high kicks, jumping into spins, and fast footwork. Furthermore, due to the varying types of techniques in taekwondo, young girls can learn a lot about controlling their bodies in general.

In addition to being an official Olympic sport, taekwondo is a great avenue to introduce young children to martial arts. This martial art combines traditional values and modern athletic approaches.

Girls Can Accomplish A Lot With Taekwondo

Michelle Lim, a former world Taekwondo champion, learned the art very young. She got her first world title when she won the gold medal at the 21st ITF Taekwondo world championship in Bulgaria, Plovdiv. She also took the international scene by storm when she became the first female gold medalist in Malaysia in the forms category.

Michelle is one of thousands of examples of girls pushing further in the martial arts than anyone would have imagined at her first class. Studying a style like Taekwondo is sometimes a vehicle to greater things, even on the world stage.

Why Taekwondo For Young Girls?

Taekwondo can play a major role in making young girls strong, both mentally and physically. Other than physical training, it also entails training the mind. Young girls will learn complex movements that build their memories, giving them a robust ability to concentrate even in class.

Taekwondo training involves a great deal of discipline, which develops young girls into well-rounded and upstanding individuals. Training in this martial art teaches young girls about courtesy and respect. Those are actually part of the tenants of Taekwondo.

They are taught to respect their instructors as well as each other. As a result, they learn to respect themselves. They will also learn the significance of politeness to everyone, an important life skill that they will carry with them to adulthood.

To learn more about what benefits Taekwondo can teach your little princess, read my article here.

Kung Fu And Girls

Kung Fu more than some of the other arts in this list is closely tied to the identity of a people and a culture. All of these systems are, but in China the word kung fu actually points to anything that takes dedicated effort to achieve or learn. When someone compliments your kung fu, it could be about many things.

Yet, when speaking about the martial arts, Kung Fu takes on a life of its own. It has become more than simply a military or self defense system, it is part of the Chinese identity. This is in part because of the their system of government and how they view education as the property of the state. This makes martial Kung Fu mandatory in schools and part of the national conscience.

Learners often perform strikes moving forward, backwards and sideways in flowing patterns. This for many young girls will resemble a dance more so than the katas of Karate or the poomse of Taekwondo. Its movements are different from style to style with in Kung Fu, but most hold the same aesthetic quality.

This art is not suitable for young girls who do not find dancing or even gymnastics appealing. The art will be ideal for children with fast reflexes and a flare for the theatrical.

Since Kung Fu doesn’t center on kicking as much as a style like Taekwondo it could be good for young children who do not find it easy to develop flexibility in the hips. It is one of the best options when you want your daughter to develop robust concentration and balance while learning a style that focuses on aesthetics and grace.

Benefits of young girls learning Kung Fu

Through this particular martial art, young girls will gain emotionally, physically, and mentally. Physically, Kung Fu trains young girls to develop flexibility and strength. With similar movements and skills as that of ballet dancers and gymnasts, girls can with caution become very adept. Later we will talk about the possibility of injury when pushing the body to limits that sometimes accompanies Kung Fu practice.

This is a multifaceted discipline and teaches utilitarian skills along side form and beauty. It is a great system for many purposes, and that is why it makes the list of the best for girls. It can be taught without a large sport focus and as a performative activity for those little girls with dreams of the stage.

Judo For Young Ladies

Judo like Karate and Taekwondo is also an Olympic sport. One important difference that is immediately apparent when comparing Judo to other arts is the lack of any type of striking techniques. The focus of Judo is taking an opponent or even attacker to the ground and pinning them down.

This not mentioned to downplay the fitness and self defense aspects of striking. This is significant because in martial arts systems like the one I teach, Judo is taught alongside the striking of Karate. This makes a perfect combination of styles.

Judo Can Be A Perfect Fit For Young Girls

This art instills in learners the ability to shield from an opponent’s strikes and use the opponent’s momentum and force of attacking against them. Young girls will learn about throws involving time and control the opposition party’s body weight.

One of the premiere aspects of Judo is the fact that a smaller child can fend off aggression from a larger one. This is not always the case with striking techniques. The leverage and controlling techniques learned in Judo can become your little girl’s secret super power.

It may be harder for some girls to get used to the idea of wrestling and throwing partners. It also may be even harder to adjust to taking falls. Yet, this is one of the most important benefits of Judo. Falling is the number one cause of injury in nearly all ages and stages of life. Judo will have them covered.

There Is No Glass Ceiling In Judo For Girls

Ronda Rousey (part of the Hayastan Team in North Hollywood, CA) won a bronze medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Judo. She is but one example of thousands of girls that grew up studying Judo from a young age, that went on to travel the world making a name for themselves.

This kind of goal of course is not for every Little Ninja princess, but there is not barriers for girls that may one day dream of that level of achievement. Judo is a well respected and internationally celebrated sport that girls have helped to bring to the forefront in fitness and self defense.

Benefits Of Judo For Young Girls

Being such a popular and international sport with no striking gives it a unique advantage when used in the right way for girls. There are limits agreed up on around the world to what techniques can be taught to and used by younger kids. Some styles don’t have the same precautions.

Then there is the mental side that Judo instills in students that help kids understand the meaning of hard work and how to learn from losing and failure instead of buckling to it. Judo is built on doing things that seem strange to new students. After a while it will not be odd at all to see a small girl picking up and then throwing a much bigger boy.

When young girls in the age of 3 to 6 train in judo, they will acquire robust physical health, emotional stability, decreased aggression, and a great deal of concentration. For those fortunate enough to be able to also train in a style like Karate, the combination can be nearly unbeatable.

Girls In Kali (Escrima / Eskrima / Arnis) Martial Arts

Filipino art involves using sticks and other impact weapons when teaching kids to develop hand eye coordination, quick reflexes, and to be able to ward off even adult attackers. This art uses rattan sticks to learn defense and strike in patterns on targets or with the sticks of other students.

For young children, padded versions are used and sometimes even light foam is handled in place of wooden sticks. The techinques are tailored to the age level and methods that are too dangerous for their age are saved for older students.

This can be said of many styles. Good instructors will tailor the offerings to fit the age level of the students. Yet, some have techniques so intrinsic to their study that it is difficult to find instructors with the ability to teach without them. Kali has patterns and many elements that can be taught safely to children.

Learners learn weapon techniques combined with barehand movements. Kali involves a lot of lower body movement as well based on angled lines. This is a great additive to other more linear martial arts, and you will tend to find that Kali or Escrima as it is also known is usually not a sole style in a martial arts class. It is usually paired with other more commonly found ones.

The Benefits Of Kali Martial Arts For Younger Girls

Other than acquiring self-defense skills, girls will gain a wide range of other benefits from Kali martial arts. They will acquire values of focus, respect, concentration, and robust self-discipline. There will be a lot to memorize, muscle memory to train, and several things that though fun, will require courage.

Taking Kali martial art lessons will also help them achieve physical fitness. There is a fundamental need for quickness and speed that Kali seeks to develop in students. This can help girls in other sports as well as many other parts of life.

Further, the physical, as well as mental health benefits of Kali martial arts are limitless, some of them being:

  • Improved self-awareness
  • Increased self-respect
  • High self-esteem
  • Improved flexibility
  • Enhanced balance
  • Robust cognitive function

Younger Girls Are More At Risk With These Particular Martial Arts

Let me preface this here with a disclaimer involving individual instructors. Martial arts instruction is highly dependent on the competency and leadership skills of the teacher of the class. They can make or break a learning environment.

Each of the following styles can most definitely, and in some cases are modified to a point that young girls do just fine in them. It is not these classes run by thoughtful and careful instructors that I am referencing here.

The issue is that in these systems, so much has to be modified and completely left up to the instructors discretion to do so that study in these for younger children is more of a concern. I am not suggesting that all teachers of these styles have not adequately modified the techniques and training offered. I am stating though that many don’t.

Mixed martial arts (MMA)

For young girls who participate in mixed martial arts, they are at a higher risk of suffering asphyxia and concussion due to choking and hard direct blows to the head. Also, fractures, upper limb injuries, and lacerations are commonplace dangers of this martial art.

This is due to the allowance of even small children to do arm barring techniques designed to dislocate elbows and shoulders. They are also permitted in many classes of this type to do strangulation and neck constricting style holds. These are designed as the name suggest to choke the partner or opponent until they ‘give up’.

For most parents of small girls, there really doesn’t need to be much explanation here. If a child with underdeveloped frontal brain areas and pre-formed character codes of ethics are taught these techniques, it could spell disaster. These are adult techniques and should be reserved for adults.

There are some MMA teachers and coaches that modify their program for younger children. This can be done like any other style. The problem is, if you don’t know what to look for, there is no governing body that restricts any of it on a systematic basis. You are at the mercy of the discretion of the instructor.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Young girls participating in this martial art are at a high risk of sustaining orthopedic injuries. The elbow is one part of the body that is very likely to be injured in this martial art. Like in MMA, elbow and shoulder locks are likely to be taught to smaller children.

Much of the same thing that causes concern in MMA happens in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu makes up much of the grappling in MMA. The difference is that in MMA, there is also boxing and kickboxing.

These are fine styles if they are in the interest of you as the parent and your daughter once she reaches the teen years. Before then, the risks associated with an instructor that chooses to teach some of these techniques to small girls is a fairly big one.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is the Israeli military hand to hand combat system. Knowing this alone should raise some red flags. The idea behind the system is to take out the tradition as it was passed down in other martial arts and replace it with a purely pragmatic approach to what works in combat.

This being said, there are some schools of Krav that sincerely try to develop this system in the same way other kids programs work. The problem here again is that it is highly dependent on the individual instructor’s discretion. You as a parent may simply not know if something really should be taught to younger girls or not.

Should Younger Girls Take Martial Arts At All?

Young girls who are strong and have self-defense techniques are very likely to grow up feeling more confident. These girls will understand safe and healthy interactions with the opposite sex since they train together with their male counterparts. The confidence to say ‘no’ will also give parents a huge peace of mind.

In martial arts learning sessions, both genders are given the same treatment, which helps girls to grow up relieved of gender expectations found in other life activities.

Additionally, martial arts will salvage children from negative influences and distractions that they may fall into while growing up. This makes the focus and discipline learn very important. With a martial arts foundation, young girls will be likely to perform exceptionally well at school and generally triumph in future engagements.

Martial arts are good avenues for young girls to gain social skills, friendliness, and a sense of union with their peers. Learners bow to acknowledge their instructors as well as opponents after a competition. This simple practice is a demonstration of honor, respect, and humility.

Possible Dangers That Younger Girls Could Face In The Martial Arts

While martial arts have many benefits for young girls, they can still pose risk of injury. Accidents are not commonplace in a well run class, with slight sprains and bruises being the most dominant injuries.

Yet, some martial arts like the ones warned of above could be more of a problem due to the nature of their practice. In particular mixed martial arts practices, for example, have a greater risk of suffocation, spine injury and damage, concussion, ruptured arteries, or other common head and neck injuries.

Some of the risky movements of Krav Maga include direct head blows with unpadded parts of the body and unconventional techniques that may be more hard to use safely.

According to safety experts, protective equipment and gear such as helmets, mouth and face guards may give martial artists a false sense of protection and safety if a qualified instructor is not keeping the techniques used correctly.

How can we reduce the risk of injury among young girls in martial arts?

Talk to a health expert.

Before enrolling young children in martial art classes, parents should consider talking to a pediatrician. They should discuss the particular form of martial art they have in mind and enquire from the doctor if their child is sufficiently healthy to participate.

Consult the instructor first

Parents can call the instructor to hear about training, philosophy, and experience before signing up their young children for martial art lessons. Further, parents should consider choosing instructors who advocate for competition only when a learner gains physical and emotional maturity and adequate expertise. This means younger girls really shouldn’t be pushed to compete in tournaments.

Start with lesser contact martial art forms.

Parents should start with martial arts that do not involve contact in their classes with other students for this age group. If the child develops some self-discipline as they become several years older, the parent can then consider moving them into a more competitive form if the child is interested.

Parents should also talk to instructors and health experts about safety equipment. For instance, a mouth guard may be effective in reducing mouth injuries. Parents should also discuss soft headgear.

Can martial arts play a role in making young girls violent?

Parents may hesitate to enroll their young girls in martial art classes due to the fear that it might promote violence. This is a valid consideration with styles like MMA, Krav Maga, and BJJ.

Again, this is a concern because not all instructors choose to limit the same techniques or training methods in these styles. There are some good instructors out there in these styles teaching kids. You just have to know what to look for.

If taught properly, martial arts are not about promoting violence. Rather, martial arts are all about learning self-defense as well as self-discipline. Young girls should be taught that a real martial artist should always avoid needless conflicts. However, this does not mean that they don’t ever defend themselves. They are peaceful and reserve physical response for moments that would demand it.

Additional general safety tips to keep young girls safe during martial arts

Parents should consider watching a wide variety of classes when they are not certain about their children’s right to the martial art. Most instructors will allow parents and their children to try a free class. This will serve to give parents and their young daughters a thorough overview of each discipline’s demands.

Besides, parents should be sure to pick an accredited martial arts school for their young children to learn the necessary techniques and skills. Also, parents should make a routine check of ensuring that their young girls are obeying the rules of their respective martial arts.

Protective equipment is another key element as far as safety is concerned. Therefore, parents should consider purchasing quality protective gear for their children participating in martial arts. Such equipment includes mouth guards, gloves, and helmets.

Parents should try emphasizing the fun part of martial arts instead of competition especially for younger children. This will help avoid violence and bullying as they develop a sense of right and wrong.

Parents with young girls should consider signing them up for martial art lessons to help them build social skills and self-discipline. If you are interested in trying out my classes which are conveniently online and streamed live into your home, click here to find out more.

The Takeaway from 5 Best Martial Arts Perfect For Young Girls To Try Out

There you have it. The 5 best martial arts for girls to try out are Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Judo, and Kali martial arts.

If you have any questions, feel free to use my email on my contact page and I will be happy to help. Hopefully this article has helped you make a decision to enroll your Little Ninja Princess in martial arts classes today.


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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