The Right Age to Learn Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

September 26, 2016, Traverse City, Michigan, USA,

At the airport going through some of those e mails that are difficult to respond to; dear sir, I would like to convert to Judaism, move to Israel and join the IDF combat units. Dear sir, my wife and I are having trouble conceiving. Dear sir, I have been suffering from ringing in my ears.

I am not kidding you, I do receive these e mails. And, dear Sir, I am looking for the best Krav Maga training for my four year old.

Really? I must admit I was stunned by the question and left speechless. I was unable to respond for a while.  When I did the woman was not happy.

I do not believe a four year old should be trained, or can be trained in Krav Maga. I do believe that anyone claiming to do so should be reported for fraud.

I am not an early childhood educator but I have been in the martial arts for more than 3 decades. Krav Maga is not for toddlers, no matter how gifted you believe your child is.

My friend and IKI instructor Colby Taylor of Michigan said that a four year should be trained in safety, i.e. what do to in case of emergency, where to run to etc. But not in how to disarm a terrorist.

Four years old is not too young, in my opinion, to begin to introduce a child to the dangers of this world but it is too young to teach them to fight back against a man with a knife or a gun.

There are instructors who teach 4 year olds, more power to them, I cannot. But what they are teaching is really only "Pre-martial arts". There are many four year olds who still need help with matters of the toilet. I do not feel they are ready to combat terrorists.

There are programs that teach some very basic body movements to toddlers but I would not call this Krav Maga. So unless your son is the next Bruce Lee I would let them enjoy those toddler years before getting serious about martial arts. Safety training, yes, as soon as possible. Krav Maga, there is still time.

So what is the right age?

That would depend on the child and the instructor. I taught children for nearly twenty years and other than one failed experiment with five year olds I never accepted a child under the age of seven. And then it was only a somewhat mature seven year old.

What I taught them was not pure Krav Maga but mostly break-falls, rolls, basic Judo and some basic Kickboxing. Gradually I would introduce one knife defense and one gun defense. I found that their fine motor coordination was not enough for even the most basic gross motor self defense moves.

If you really want to give your child the best physical advantage consult an early child specialist.