Best Age to Start Martial Arts
The best age to start martial arts is 3 years old. At this age, their mental and physical development are crucial, and these skills will begin developing as they are introduced to discipline, focus, and confidence along with coordination.
With this being said, this doesn't mean if you didn't begin training at this age, that there is no benefit to training.
There are a multitude of reasons of why you should begin (or continue) training at any age, and we will cover every age group below.
Young Age | 3 - 11 Years old
The best MMA fighters in the world have trained one type of martial art when they were young kids.
The ability to learn a martial art and learn important skills such as coordination, work ethic, body positioning and mental toughness, all before being a teenager is extremely valuable.
George St-Pierre for example learned Karate at 7 years old to protect himself from a school bully.
Khabib Nurmagomedov began training wrestling at 5 years old with his father.
Kron Gracie began Jiu Jitsu as a child and became a black belt by 19 years old. Seeing as a black belt in this martial art can take up to 10 years to obtain, it's safe to say Kron was young when he began.
The list goes on and on, but the point is mastering a certain skill before even hitting puberty and growing into the body is a giant advantage.
A Lifetime of Mastering a Martial Art
Khabib is a great example of how important mastering one area of martial arts can be.
He is known for dominating his competition using his relentless wrestling pressure, and once he takes them down, they aren't able to get back up.
He is one of the few fighters that was so dominant using one of the mixed martial arts, that everyone knew what he was going to do, but yet couldn't stop it.
How is this even possible?
A lifetime of training, and this all begins at a young age.
Teenage Years | 12 - 17 Years old
Although the ideal age to begin training is as young as possible, this doesn't mean training at a teenage or an adult age can't bring success.
Anderson Silva began training at 12 years old, when his family was able to put enough money aside to pay for lessons.
Then, he went on a streak of 7 years where he was seemingly invincible, defeating every opponent while he maintained the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Beginning During Puberty
Puberty brings a lot of different factors into the equation of training, as medically there are changes in hormones, physical growth, brain development.
Beginning and training a martial art while dealing of all of these effects, can help in the long run as these challenges are only dealt with once.
Another advantage to training while the body is entering adulthood is managing the 'awkward' phase.
Picture this: Over the summer you have grown 6 inches and gained 30 lbs.
Suddenly your limbs are much longer, you're much taller, and suddenly the normal go to techniques that you perform have to be adjusted.
Whether you're throwing a kick, you'll have to adjust your distance. If you're wrestling, you'll be able to reach your opponents' limbs from a greater distance, but you also become a larger target as well.
You may also have to go up a weight class (or train with larger sparring partners to match you), where the way opponents compete are much different than the lighter weight classes.
All of these challenges once conquered, can become advantages down the line.
With that being said, starting at the early ages such as 3 can bring all of those advantages mentioned in the section above, plus the ones just mentioned.
Adult Years | 18+
Although beginning martial arts earlier is the best case scenario, there have been plenty of professional fighters who have started training late in their careers.
Randy Couture famously began his MMA career at 34 years old, then went on to win the UFC heavyweight championship 3 times and the UFC Light Heavyweight championship two times.
Daniel Cormier also notoriously began his MMA career at 30 years old. He went on to become a UFC 'Double Champ' being able to hold the UFC Light Heavyweight championship and UFC Heavyweight championship simultaneously.
Yoel Romero started training MMA at 31 years old and then fought for the UFC Middleweight championship several times.
Although these scenarios are less common, they are certainly not impossible.
The three names mentioned (Couture, Cormier & Romero) were all wrestling Olympians.
Perhaps, they key to becoming highly successful when beginning mixed martial arts late in your career, is to become an Olympian.. No big deal right? Just kidding.
Training Just to Train
Although we've covered several examples of professional fighters having success when beginning at different ages, you can also have success without becoming a professional fighter.
If you're training just because you love the martial arts, or want to get in better shape, or enjoy the camaraderie, there will still be tremendous benefits.
The ability to be able to relieve stress, stimulate the brain, work on coordination, increase physical fitness, learn discipline, learn different cultures as people from all the world train martial arts, and even just knowing what is going on when watching a UFC fight.
In this article we've covered examples of those that are the best in their field (professional fighters), and different examples of how certain situations worked for them. Now, it's up to the reader to take the knowledge from this article and apply it.
There are massive benefits to learning martial arts, and no matter what age you start, it's never too late to begin.
A wise man once said "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step".