Self-defense, conflict resolution, discipline, physical and mental stamina: These are just a few of the awesome skills that martial arts can teach a kid, which is why it’s the fastest growing sport in the country. If you’ve got a kid in need of some fitness, focus, friendship and fun, read on. Every one of these studios promises to build your child’s confidence and self-esteem, thereby paving the way for success in other areas of life.

karate-kids-dc-1Photo: Beta Academy via Facebook

Beta Martial Arts Academy
If you’re interested in a holistic approach to preparing your kiddo for everything from bullies, to academic challenges, to building self-confidence and maintaining self-esteem, then the Beta Academy is the place for you. Kids programs focus on Thai Boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Jumior will learn non-violent conflict resolutions skills and bully-prevention tactics along with positive character traits. Kid’s classes are offered daily, and if you’re unsure of your child’s dedication, Beta offers a free trial class to find out if it’s right for you.

1353 Florida Ave., NW (U Street)

YMCA National Capitol
If you need to remind yourself why you’re lucky to live in D.C., stop by the YMCA National Capitol: Seven floors of fitness all for one monthly fee, including access to dozens of YMCA branches throughout the DMV area. The YMCA features a variety of classes for kids in beginning and intermediate Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Family Jujitsu. There’s also Youth and Parent Tae Kwon Do, Youth Kickboxing, and Youth Martial Arts. Youth classes focus on defensive techniques, flexibility, strength, discipline and respect in a non-aggressive, non-competitive environment.

1711 Rhode Island Ave., NW (Dupont Circle)

karate-kids-dc-2Photo: DC Aikido via Facebook

D.C. Aikido Martial Arts and Kids Karate
At Aikido, becoming a black belt begins with the inner self and classes focus on life-defining values such as courtesy, patience, respect, self-control and integrity. Classes are designed by age and skill level and include life skills instruction, physical conditioning and stretching, self-defense and stranger-danger instruction, along with fun and excitement. Aikido also offers a number of comprehensive summer camps and all-inclusive birthday parties.

2368 Connecticut Ave., NW Ste. C-104 (Woodley Park)

Washington Shotokan Karate
This volunteer run, non-profit organization is one of the oldest karate studios in the DMV area, and offers education and training in traditional Japanese karate, which focuses on using the hands, feet and other body parts as weapons. Classes are offered to children ages 8 -12 and adults. Beginners are given private or semi-private lessons to learn basic techniques before being introduced into a class. This is a great place if your kiddo wants to get serious about improving and perfecting her skills. For yellow belts and above, Shotokan features kissaki-kai karate-do, a form of martial arts that incorporates real-life fighting scenarios.

3265 S St., NW (Georgetown)

karate-kids-dc-3Photo: Yong Studios DC via Facebook

Yong Studios
Yong Studios is known for offering a large number of classes to help clients work at least one or more into the busiest of schedules. Classes focus on Tae Kwon Do, a Korean Martial Art best known for its advanced kicking techniques. Yong believes that practicing martial arts brings fluidity to motion, grace to movement, and physical harmony. Who could argue with that? One nice thing about Yong is that they don’t lock you into a contract like some other studios. You pay one monthly fee and come to class as often as you like. Children are placed in classes based on ability.

4445 Wisconsin Ave., NW (Tenleytown)

Have you found a martial arts studio that your kid loves? Tell us about it in the Comments section below. 

—Jamy Bond