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Karate for Girls

Karate is one of the most popular martial arts, and is suitable for both boys and girls. There are a lot of different martial arts, but in this article I will explain if Karate is good for girls, the different styles of Karate, what to expect when training Karate, and if Karate is the best martial art for girls. First, here’s a quick summary of the benefits and drawbacks of Karate for girls.

Overall, Karate is one of the best martial arts for girls to learn. Moral values are part of the curriculum, which means academies are overall very welcoming and friendly. Karate is very popular so it’s easy to find an academy (dojo) in your area. It also has applicability for self defense and real fighting.

Some martial arts are a lot harder to learn than others. By comparison, Karate is a lot easier than other martial arts. Below, I will provide a breakdown of the reasons why Karate is good for girls, and how it compares to some of the other most popular martial arts.

Benefits of Karate for Girls [& Is It the Best Martial Art for Girls]

It’s possible to start training Karate from a very early age, essentially as soon as a child can take directions from an instructor. But, before jumping in and giving it a go, here are the main benefits of Karate compared to other martial arts:  

  • It has a low rate of injury
  • It has applicability for self defense
  • It’s reasonably easy to learn
  • It’s easy to find an academy
  • The vibe of Karate academies is very good

By contrast, some martial arts have a very high rate of injury, are not applicable to self defense, are hard and take a long time to learn, are not very widespread and therefore it’s hard to find a place close by to train it. And the vibe of the people that train the martial arts is more aggressive and/or overly competitive.

While the martial art you decide to do depends on a person’s temperament and personal preferences, most people find the benefits of Karate over other martial arts makes it one of the best choices. 

Here’s a breakdown of each of these points in detail, with a discussion about how these benefits compare to other popular martial arts like Judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

It has a low rate of injury

Martial arts are considered full contact sports. Karate is a bit less full-contact than others because students don’t engage in live sparring (called kumite), until about a year or two in, once they have reached green belt.

It has been found in various studies that particular martial arts have a higher rate of injury than others. The general trend is that grappling and throwing martial arts like judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu have an injury rate of about 30% in competition (source). 

Whereas, striking based martial arts like Karate have an injury rate of about 10%. Another key point is that sparring and competition matches in Karate are not always full contact. 

The rules of Olympic Karate, and non-full contact Karate dictate that people can only ‘touch’ each other with strikes. Rather than full power strikes found in competitive matches in martial arts like kickboxing and boxing.

Therefore, Karate is better than other grappling martial arts because a girl is far less likely to get injured when learning it.

The vibe of Karate academies is very good

Some martial arts teach moral principles such as respect, honor, and discipline as part of the core curriculum. These include Karate, and Judo. Therefore, there is a general understanding amongst people that train Karate to be friendly, kind, and cooperative with each other. 

Whereas, others can be hit and miss. There may be a good vibe at the academy or gym, or there may be not. And in some cases, there is an overly competitive, and hostile environment. Only a certain personality, and type of person fits in at these academies.

And even if they do, it makes the training far less fun, and good spirited. While this does differ from academy to academy, and you should exercise patience to get to know the instructor and the students, by and large, Karate academies will have a good, family-oriented vibe. Where there is an attitude of collaboration rather than survival of the fittest.

It has applicability for self defense

One of the main benefits of martial arts, and a big reason why people get into them, is that they gain a sense of self-confidence that comes from having skills to defend yourself against an aggressor. Such as how to defend yourself from a wrist grab (source).

Karate has self defense moves built into the curriculum. These include certain moves to get out of particular situations. As well as, strikes that will make an aggressor think twice. By comparison, some martial arts are not very effective for self defense, such as Kung Fu, and Aikido. 

There have been many freestyle fights between Karate and other martial arts, and Karate has been found to be quite effective. And is at least competitive. 

While martial arts experts would argue one martial art is better for self defense compared to another. Karate is in the conversation. More so full-contact Karate styles, but also non-full contact styles.

It’s reasonably easy to learn

Martial arts vary in how easy or hard they are to learn. Some take a very long time to go from one belt to the next, and have a large number of techniques. 

Others only have a few techniques, and are easy to learn. Then, there are those that are somewhere in the middle. Karate is somewhere in the middle.

It doesn’t take overly long to go from one belt to the next, and the total techniques a person needs to learn is not huge. It takes around 4 to 5 years to get a black belt in Karate. 

Whereas, other martial arts like Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu take 10 years to get a black belt. Here’s a table that shows about on average how long it takes to go from one belt to the next in Karate.

BeltCumulative time (time total)
White0 – you can wear to your first class
Yellow3 months
Orange9 months
Green1 year, 4 months
Blue2 years
Brown3 years
Black4.5 years

I covered what’s required to get the first belt in Karate – a yellow belt – in this article about what’s required to get a yellow belt in Karate. It covers how many techniques a Karateka (a person who does Karate) needs to know and demonstrate to get awarded their yellow belt. 

Martial arts that have a lot of techniques can often be discouraging overall. But, this applies to both boys and girls. The reason is most people train martial arts 3 times a week for 2 hours or so at a time. 

At that rate it feels like it takes forever to get anywhere, and there’s no way to maintain skill in all of the over 100 techniques. For this reason, it’s easier for girls to stick with Karate than other martial arts that take longer to learn. And develop a high level of skill.

It’s easy to find an academy

Karate is very popular, it could be because of the very famous and popular movie the Karate Kid which brought a lot of attention to Karate. Or because of the reputation it’s developed over the years. 

In either case, it’s very easy to find a Karate academy, and is a big advantage of it as a martial art overall. This means you don’t need to travel as far to train it, in most cases. There are also a lot of options to choose from.

Different Styles of Karate & the Best Style for Girls

There are quite a few different Karate styles. The origin of Karate is said to have been brought to the south of Japan, from China. And was modified from Kung Fu. The main thing to know about Karate is that there are full contact styles and non-full contact styles.

Full contact styles more resemble boxing and kickboxing. Whereas, non-full contact styles are better suited to girls because they don’t require pain tolerance and toughness which the full contact styles require. The names and origins of each of the different Karate styles is a bit confusing.

In general, before starting a girl in Karate it’s best to get an idea what style is best by referring to the video below. It has a mind map showing the names of each of the different types of Karate, where it originated, and if it’s full-contact or not.

What Is a Good Age To Start Karate?

Karate is a martial art but also a sport. Most children can begin sports and martial arts from a very early age. But, here is what age is good to start Karate, and if there is anything unique about Karate which means it makes sense to start it at a certain age.

Overall, any age is good for Karate. Karate can be started when children are as young as 5 years old. But, also if you start later there are no major drawbacks. At whatever age you start you will progress through the curriculum and get awarded each belt one by one.

Virtually all Karate schools have classes for very young children, children, youth, and adults. Therefore, you will be in a class that will match your age. In general, once a child can follow directions when in a group they can begin learning Karate. 

Otherwise, it’s a bit distracting for the instructor to tell students individually and ensure they follow directions. But, this is about the same age that they begin to have the coordination required to learn Karate.

When I did Karate I was in a children and youth class. People in my class were between 8 to 14 years of age. 

But, when I moved to a different city with my family I was about 11 years old. The new Karate academy I went to was an adult class. I lost interest because everyone was much older, and it was harder to relate to them. Therefore, in my experience if they don’t have a class for your age group you’re better to look into other Karate academies.

Is Karate Easy for Girls?

Some martial arts are significantly harder than others. Some sports also naturally draw boys to do more than girls, and only girls with a certain personality will do them. But, here is if Karate is easy for girls to get into.

Overall, Karate is about medium difficulty for girls. It’s not the easiest martial art to learn but it is also not the most difficult martial art to learn. Girls commonly train in Karate. Karate is very easy to grasp because it’s taught based on a set curriculum for each belt. 

One of the main things people can struggle with, with karate, is flexibility. Some of the kicks such as the high kicks require a person to have above average flexibility. 

So, if a girl did gymnastics, or likes yoga, then it will be easier for them to execute the moves in Karate. But, this flexibility can easily be developed over time. I explained this in more detail in this article about the best stretches to develop flexibility for Karate.

Is Karate Good for a Girl?

There are a near infinite amount of hobbies a girl could get into. Generally, once girls start in one activity they begin to like it more and more over time, in other cases, they will quit and try something completely different. But, here is whether Karate is good for girls overall.

In general, Karate is good for girls. Karate has moral values as part of the curriculum, teaches self defense, and is not as difficult as some other popular martial arts. It also has a well developed competition scene. So, if your daughter or you want to compete in sport Karate, it’s also an option.

Some martial arts have a very competitive and hostile environment, which is not most girls’ idea of having fun. This differs from academy to academy but overall Karate is better known for having a respectful, and kind environment. 

The self defense techniques, and striking techniques also give girls a sense of confidence which they otherwise wouldn’t have if they didn’t train in a martial art like Karate. Karate also has a lower average rate of injury than other martial arts.