Does Losing in BJJ Competition Discourage Children from Training?
Lift Them Up In Victory, and Defeat
Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition can have many benefits for children. It can increase their confidence, help them sharpen their skills, and teach them to work hard for the things they want. It can also show them the benefits firsthand of what they’ve been learning, and create e a sense of trust in the idea that they will be able to hold their own in a more realistic self-defense setting.
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As good as competition can be for children, not all kids are the same when it comes to mentality, and how they deal with winning and losing. Its an easier transition for a naturally athletic and inherently physically driven child to make the jump to jiu-jitsu and be successful in competition.
When a child that does not possess as much prior experience with sports or competition takes up BJJ and wishes to compete there may have to be some extra support and guidance on the parent and coaching end. If natural mental toughness or athletic ability isn’t present, it can most definitely be cultivated. But that may require that the child attends a couple of extra classes a week, and receives a little extra attention from the coaches to reinforce the importance of hard work, practice, and most importantly believing in his or her abilities.
I’ve heard BJJ instructors say that competition can ruin a child’s desire to train BJJ and that it discourages them. And I’ll accept that theory if its due to an absence of the proper support system around the child to help them deal with the experience properly. They need to know that a loss isn’t the end of the world, and that in that loss there are also dozens of hidden victories.
Kids deal with loss and victory in different ways. It’s great to win, but the bigger life lesson always comes with the loss. How those that support the child dealing with the loss choose to do so is paramount. Parents and coaches must focus on the benefits and advantages of loss to help the child see it as a positive. No matter how tough the loss is to deal with, there is always a silver lining. That must be brought to the surface, so that competition doesn’t become discouraging, but rather is viewed by the child as motivational, and beneficial.
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Not being naturally aggressive, athletic, or mentally strong doesn’t mean a child cannot or should not compete. All humans possess the ability to rise to the occasion, but sometimes we just need someone to help us believe it.
When our children step on the mat to compete, we want nothing more in the world than to see their little hands get raised, and the look on their face when they feel the referee lift their arm into the air in front of the crowd. We must understand though that this moment may not come early in their efforts to compete, but when it does, that one win will negate every previous loss they’ve ever experienced.