My wife just signed up the boy for a Karate camp this summer for a few weeks.
I'd rather have him in Jujitsu since every fight I have been involved in or seen ends up on the ground.
Martial Arts are epically good for keeping shape, if you’re not inclined towards the repetitive, exercise-for-the-sake-of-exercise kind of stuff.
I’ve never been in as good a shape as when I was doing Martial Arts training consistently.
The self-defence aspect of Martial Arts is an ancillary benefit. Anybody trained in any Martial Art to any reasonable degree will have no problems in a fight with someone who has no training in anything.
Two people fighting where neither has any MA training will go to the ground quite quickly… And two people fighting who are both trained in any MA, will also go to the ground, if not quite so quickly.
But someone with a reasonable level of training in anything (including Western Boxing) should be able to keep on their feet when fighting someone with no training.
Jiu Jitsu is certainly the MA to aim for, since it contains the accumulated wisdom of just about every other MA… But it is quite technical, and does suit adults more than children.
Karate is ideal for kids as a first MA, because of the emphasis on self-discipline and order. All MA’s share the same basic strikes in any case, so there doesn’t need to be a great deal of thought put in to picking the right one for kids.
I always recommend Karate or Kung Fu (of any variety) for kids, because they’re broad categories in any case, and the individual will naturally gravitate towards whatever style or form of MA that most suits them as they get into it.
For adults: Jiu Jitsu is fine for complete beginners, and *GREAT* for fitness.
I really should think about getting my gi back on…