I am legitimately obsessed with all things Arya Stark. She is, without a doubt, my favorite character in all of Game of Thrones. She's the bossest woman in Westeros, and she takes no prisoners. I wish I could be just like her, but unfortunately, I'm a little past my prime to learn to fight as well as she does. My daughter, on the other hand, is nearly 8 years old, and still very nimble and quick, and none of her joints make weird noises, yet. She's the perfect age for martial arts, but when can kids start sword lessons? She'll need her own Needle eventually.
When you're considering enrolling your child in sword fighting classes, it's important to note that not all of them are the same. Each class and style of sword fighting is different, uses different skills, and will have differing approaches, and each of these styles will have a disparate age required for entry. Whether you choose traditional fencing, Japanese Kendo, Kung Fu, longsword, or lightsaber, each discipline will be different. For instance, the top fencing athletes around the world typically began lessons between the ages of 11 and 13, according to the Academy of Fencing Masters.
I will admit, I have been skirting the idea of my children learning how to sword fight (and battle fans, spears, blades, nunchucks) since they were very little. My husband is a master sifu in Wushu Kung Fu, and it's been a part of our lives our entire marriage. The very first day we lived together is when I found out that I'd be living with an arsenal of steel beneath my bed for the rest of my life. Jian blades so sharp they could slice a tomato, longquan broadswords built to be used in battle against men in heavy uniforms, and of course, his beloved dao.
He tells Romper that for Kung Fu, and really all martial arts, having a solid base in combat is necessary to develop the skills and movements required to wield a blade. When you begin your training in combat will determine when you pick up your first training sword. (Usually made of wood, cork, or foam.) If your child starts Kung Fu at age 4, they could ostensibly be wielding a sword at age 8. However, if they start at 8, they'll probably be closer to 12, which is about the same age as those who do fencing and never learned hand-to-hand combat.
Arya sword fighting right away at age 9 or so is a bit of a stretch, but then again, so are undead giants and braids that never get frizzy (side-eyeing Khaleesi on that one). That being said, in some Japanese Kendo dojos, they will accept children around age 8 or 9. Yes, there is a risk of injury, but these swordsman do all they can to make sure the children are as safe as they possibly can be. They will be padded and protected at all times if you choose a reputable dojo.
If you kid is just looking to have a good time and learn a little back and forth while getting some great exercise, there are a ton of lightsaber classes popping up across the country that start as young as age 5. You never know if you're raising a little Luke Skywalker or Kylo Ren until you see what color their saber lights up with.
When kids can start sword lessons isn't just based on their age, either. My husband made it very clear that until my daughter has her temper in check, he won't let her within 10 feet of any weapon. She's simply not ready. Her kill list would be entirely too volatile and too long. But your child might be different. Call your local dojo or fencing institute — most of them will offer evaluations and free classes, and you can get an idea at that point what you think you should do. It will save a lot of tears in the end.