Your Child with ADHD: Karate Instruction

Your Child with ADHD: Karate Instruction
Page content

Who Does Karate Help?

Parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are often desperate to find an outlet for their child’s energy. They search through sports, scouts and other extracurricular activities looking for one that will hold their child’s attention while also teaching them some basic social and developmental skills. Karate is an excellent answer for all of these issues.

Why Does Karate Help?

For children with ADHD karate provides a calm, structured environment with strong leadership and guidance. Children are encouraged to

focus, listen and set achievable personal goals while also controlling their bodies. This combined physical and mental challenge is why karate is such a successful option for children with ADHD.

A good karate instructor, or sensei, encourages students to focus and listen to his or her leadership and rewards them for this skill. This is the first step toward success for children with ADHD. Since every achievement in karate is rewarded, mastering this singular lesson in listening builds up a student’s confidence and self-esteem while simultaneously encouraging them to continue to work toward future goals. Establishing this cycle for children with ADHD can carry over into other areas of their lives. As children reap the rewards of listening to their sensei, parents may encourage them to listen better at home and at school to achieve greater success in those areas as well.

Beyond listening, karate requires both mental and physical focus. Students must remain calm to be able to execute the moves the sensei teaches. For students with ADHD karate becomes a stimulating physical and mental challenge as they work to achieve success in each karate move. As students master these skills, parents and teachers begin to see the effects of karate classes on children with ADHD.

Over time, ADHD karate students become more capable of listening, focusing and controlling their bodies in appropriate ways. Because they are practicing these skills in karate, they can become more self-aware in other situations as well. Likewise, parents can use the knowledge that their children are capable of controlling their bodies to their advantage and gently remind children to use these skills in other settings.

What Does Karate Help?

The effects of karate classes on children with ADHD goes beyond physical and mental control during the karate class. In 2004 Matthew Klein Morand examined a variety of specific benefits karate might have on students with ADHD in his dissertation for completion of his doctorate of psychology from Hofstra University. Morand’s findings showed that participation in a karate class twice weekly had the following results for students with ADHD:

1. It increased the amount of homework the students were capable of completing.

2. It increased the frequency students with ADHD followed classroom rules.

3. It decreased the number of times students inappropriately called out during class.

4. It decreased the number of times students left their seats at inappropriate times.

5. It decreased the number of times teachers had to redirect students during class.

6. It improved the classroom participation for students with ADHD.

7. It improved overall academic performance for students with ADHD.

The results in this study show just a few concrete examples of the effects of karate on children with ADHD. These same sorts of responses may be expected in other settings that require focus and attention such as dinner time and religious services.


As parents search for creative extracurricular outlets for their children with ADHD, karate should definitely be considered as an option. With the positive experiences sited by numerous parents, teachers and karate instructors, along with the research results provided here, it is clear that karate has served as a positive environment for many children with ADHD.


Morand, Matthew K. “The Effects of Mixed Martial Arts on Behavior of Male Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,”

Ripley, Dr. Abida. “An Awesome Alternative to Drugs: Martial Arts Practice As Treatment For Children With AD/HD,”

Vyn, Katie. “How does karate help kids with ADHD?”

Image credit: Morguefile by dzz