Why Kids Should Learn Jiu Jitsu And Not Karate Or Tae Kwon Do


Imagine a child being seriously bullied at school. The parents are fed up. The school cannot solve the problem. Frustrated and not knowing what else to do, they innocently decide to sign their child up for karate lessons.

Now suppose this kid trains at the local karate school for 3-4 years. He’s earned his black belt. He feels great. He can kick over his head. He can even break a board. His parents think surely now this kid has a solid foundation in self-defense.

Is this correct?

I say “no”.

The truth is that not all martial arts are equal. 

Some are better than others.

One reason why is because many martial arts like karate or tae kwon do focus on striking in self-defense. These are striking based martial arts. But are striking based martial arts like karate or tae kwon do really the best option for real-life self-defense from bullies or attackers?

Absolutely not. Punching and kicking in self-defense is not nearly as effective as many think. It is actually a bad strategy and there are several reasons why.

Most People, Even Many Black Belts, Are Not Able To Generate Sufficient Power In Their Strikes

First of all, apart from a very few exceptions (like if you happen to be a highly trained heavyweight boxer or Muay Thai fighter), most people are not able to throw effective strikes.

Sadly, this can even be true if a person is a black belt in karate or tae kwon do.

The kind of strikes commonly taught in traditional martial arts like these simply do not generate enough power to stop an attacker. In order to do that, you would need some training in kickboxing, Muay Thai, boxing, or some other powerful striking based martial art.

But even then, problems with striking arts would remain, such as…

Breaking Your Hand On The Hard Human Head

Secondly, even if you are able to throw powerful strikes, you are very likely to break your hand when you hit their head.

I have personally broken my own hand in a professional kickboxing match. I threw the right and my opponent instinctively tucked his head down, making my punch land on the top of his head. In spite of the 10oz gloves, I received a “boxer’s fracture” that took about 6 months to heal to the point where I could train again.

The human head has rightly been described as a “bowling ball with teeth”. Not the kind of thing I want to hit.

Striking Is A Bad Strategy Against Bigger Attackers

Thirdly, striking an opponent who is much bigger and stronger than you are is a terrible self-defense strategy. It is highly unlikely that you will actually damage a much larger attacker but if they land one blow on you it can be all over.

So the rule for striking is this: striking works best on people who are your size or smaller.

Knocking An Opponent Out Leads To An Uncontrolled Fall Than Could Land You In Prison

Fourth, striking can have serious legal consequences.

Even if you do score that knock out blow, your opponent could fall and hit his head on the sidewalk and suffer a serious injury or death.

I know of a good martial artist who ended up in prison because this happened to him when defending himself.

Most Real Fights End Up On The Ground Anyway

Fifth, and most importantly, most fights end up in a clinch and fall to the ground ANYWAY. This happens regardless of whether or not the combatants want it to.

The common pattern in real-life confrontations is this: yelling, chest bumping, a push or two, then some very weak and ineffective strikes are thrown, and boom they lock up and land on the ground.

The lesson to be learned is this. If you want your child to be able to SAFELY AND EFFECTIVELY deal with attackers who are bigger and stronger than they are, THEY simply must learn jiu jitsu.

If you are a man who is really serious about learning how to take care of himself and his family in a real-life situation, then you simply cannot ignore the ground game.

Bottom line, learn jiu jitsu. It is the best ground-based martial art there is. You’ll learn how to handle yourself in the most common range of real fights. You won’t break your hand. You can control the damage much better. And it works on everybody.

Related Article: Jiu Jitsu Houston: The Ultimate Guide To Getting Started

Related Article: How To Answer Common Objections Against Jiu Jitsu

Related Article: Why Jiu Jitsu Training is The Best Way To Stop Bullying

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Father of eight, Dr. Scott Sullivan is the chief instructor at Bam Bam Martial Arts in Houston, TX. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas and is a seasoned martial arts instructor with over 30 years of experience. A firm believer that martial arts really does help people become more fit, safe, and happy, he remains vigilant about helping people improve their lives through martial arts.