At the JKA, we have thousands of children and youth members from elementary school to high school learning the values of karate and applying them in their daily life.
There are numerous JKA programs for children. In Japan, we have separated youth (age 6-18) from adults in tournaments since 1983 (26th JKA All Japan Karate Championship) and set up a special annual tournament for elementary and junior high school students. We also maintain a youth division at the Shoto World Cup Karate Championship Tournaments. Additionally we hold national-scale karate camps for school-age youth at the Tokyo JKA HQ
Karate for children is not only fun, it provides many important benefits to young people. Some of these benefits are referred to in Japanese as chiiku (mental development), tokuiku (moral development) and taiiku (physical development). These are the same three classes of personal development found in traditional educational systems.
In terms of chiiku (mental development), karate helps build concentration, focus, clear thinking and decisiveness.
Karate has strong internal benefits as well. It helps instill patience, discipline, perseverance, understanding and open-mindedness. It builds confidence, develops self-control and increases calmness, courtesy and peace—all of which will aid everyone in every endeavor they undertake in life. These correspond to tokuiku (moral development).
Of course, karate is good for the body, too (taiiku). Physically it is excellent for the heart, builds strong bones and bigger muscles, creates resilience, and makes the body less susceptible to sickness and injury.
In all these ways, karate is profoundly helpful to young people in dealing with the many challenges facing them in today’s society. It brings them balance and perspective at an age when these are needed most. It adds a strong foundation to their character.
NOTE: Other karate organizations often allow children as young as six or seven years old start kumite (sparring). But at the JKA, so as to avoid the possibility of injury, no sparring is allowed until the child is ten years old and in the fifth grade.