Too young? Too old?
IntroHow young or old may a person be and still be able to train in a martial art and possibly even earn a black belt? Nowadays, there is apparently no age limit. Very young children are awarded black belts and senior citizens are awarded black belts.
No limitDoes this mean that more people are rising to the challenge of the high standards and requirements of a black belt, or does it mean that the standards and requirements have been lowered so more people may earn a black belt? This is a controversial subject that I discuss in more depth in the black belt prestige article.
Many martial art schools will accept children as young as four or five years old and some may even accept even younger children. Usually, younger children are taught a watered-down version of the martial art and earn belts separate from the regular ranking system until they reach a specific age at which time they transition into the regular training program.
Most instructors have experience in teaching children of all ages and they know what ages they are willing to accept as students. If they have the patience and ability to deal with very young children, they may accept them as students. Not all instructors have an interest in dealing with young children, and not all have the patience or ability to teach young children.
When parents are seeking to enroll their children in the martial arts, the style of martial art they choose is an important consideration; however, the most important considerations are whether the instructor enjoys teaching children and does the instructor interact well with children. Not all instructors are suited to teach children; I am one. I have little tolerance for whining adults, so I certainly don't do well with children.
Most schools have no upper age limit for people they will accept as students. As long as the person comes to class, tries to do his or her best, and is able to participate in class activities, the student will be accepted and promoted through the ranks, including to the black belt levels. Therefore, in reality, there is practically no age at which some martial art schools or instructors will refuse to accept people as students.