What age to start Judo

Hi guys,
I have a few questions...
What would be a good age to start kids in Judo.

Any particular place in the Detroit (n.e. suburbs) that specializes in kids judo?

Do you reccomend starting in judo rather than Karate?

Anyone familiar with the "Saito dojo"? - Wado Ryu (ish) karate & judo taught at the Birmingham YMCA,
instructor is 6th dan karate & 7th dan Judo.

thanks in advance


different dojos have different age allowances in judo. most will accept kids at 5 or 6.

saito is a great guy. he also happens to be the best referee in the US. he has officated in medal matches at the world championships and olympic games. that makes him one of the best in the world as well.

he is also the current president of the USJF-- United States Judo Federation. very politically active person who knows a lot about development and teaching.

he is a pretty soft spoken fella from my experiences with him, but he knows his judo and he knows it very well. id surely say its worthwhile to take your kid to his place if its nearby.

most importantly though, you should take your kid there, meet him yourself and see if its the kind of place you want to be around. judo clubs are a lot like families. how you feel there is as important as anything else.

I started my kid at 5. The dojo is definitely a factor. The first dojo we went to was great for me as far as training partners goes, had 40 kids and also had a lot of kids who do well in competition. The sensei's one of the best as well. But he was only going once a week, we live an hour away, and he really wasn't getting the one-on-one attention a 5-year-old beginner needs. The one we just moved to is closer, the sensei is not as experienced, but the club is smaller (12 kids at the most0, he gets unlimited personal attention and he will probably learn more.

My daughter started the week she made 6y.o. and she'll be 7 in a couple weeks. She was just awarded her Yellow belt and competed in her first shiai. Her growth over the last year is admirable and she has enjoyed her training. Focus on fun and learning, only in the last couple of months have I pushed a couple of aspects more seriously. The focus for this young age is fun, encouragement and to try new things. Judo is our father/daughter "thing", I always attend her practices and she's always smiling and flashing me the thumbs-up when she does something. I also always encourage her about it in our play and I challenge her "Judo fighter v. Jiujitsu fighter." I really think the age depends on the child. Ive seen soem older kids who really don't have the attention span,interest, etc for it. In which case, they are perhaps better off waiting a little.

I think 5 is as young as you would want to go. 6 is probably better.

Make sure you find a teacher who knows what he/she is doing with kids though. Not every judo teacher is really qualified to teach such young kids.

Ben R.

my home dojo is rather lucky when it comes to kids. coach there is a retired grammar school PE teacher. he knew exactly what to do with us and how to walk that line of fun, learning and discipline perfectly.

the one thing i will say that is very, very positive about the USJI is that they go the extra mile to make sure the coaches are safe people. all instuctors of a USJI club are required to have a felony background investigation done now. anybody who is teaching a class is included in this check. some thing its going a bit too far, but personally, i cant imagine what it would be like to someday find out that your kids coach has a record for abuse, sexual assault or something else.

i believe that the JF is also doing this now, though im not positive and i know that its only a matter of time before the JA must as well.

i started at 10. almost everyboy i fight now began at 4 or 5 or 6... i sometimes feel as if those orginal years they were training and i wasnt actually make a slight difference.

"Anyone familiar with the "Saito dojo"?"

Yep, cant go wrong there!! Saito is the REAL deal!


USJA is now doing back ground checks as well. At least our club is. We all just had to fill out the forms and turn them in. They told us what they were doing.


I hear that 7 years of age is the breakpoint for any sport. A kid is likely to drop anything that he/she starts before the age of 7.


Thanks alot folks...i appreciate the advice.



My youngest is 5 now and started on her 5th birthday. Candidly she probably could wait until 6 as her attention span is shorter than the 50 minute kids class is long. We just started a "little dragons" class for 4-6 year olds and she has a ball there, though sometimes it's tough because her older sisters refer to it as the "baby" judo class. Brats

Where in the Detroit area do you live?

Steve Lafrate

Hiya Steve,
I am in Clawson, but this info is for my 2 nephews - one of whom is in the Sterling Heights/Warren area - the other is in Lake Orion.

The question regarding Saito Dojo was for me actually - (cant believe I'm gonna start judo at age 37...ouch)
I had some previous experience with judo & JJJ and I quite enjoyed it, and I gotta do something to lose the 20+ pounds I've put on over the winter.
Only thing I currently train in is Balintwak Eskrima.

thanks again



We're located at 15 and mound. We're in the process of rebuilding the kids program after some scheduling issues. We've got about 15 kids on the roster with 7-10 showing up on any given night.

As far as starting at 37, I started at 34 so I feel your pain. We've got a bunch of late bloomers training with us including a 45 year old white belt who thinks it's the olympics :)

If you're in the area tonight, feel free to stop by. A couple of us show up to roll in what is at best a slightly structured open mat session.We'll be there from 7:30 until we can't breathe any more and you're more than welcome to hang out and even roll if you'd like.

Steve Lafrate

"45 year old white belt who thinks it's the olympics :)"

Making up for lost time bro. Us old low-rankers don't have time to f--- around. We've already done too much of that. :-D