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How To Get Your Kids To Train, and Keep Them Interested

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I feel pretty confident in saying it is likely not a hard sell to convince your that training Jiu Jitsu is not just important for kids, it could be argued that it is one of the best possible things they could do.

Training Jiu Jitsu has so many benefits for kids, with not a lot of risk or downside potential.  Let’s first talk about the upside potential. First, we have the obvious, self defense. Let’s be honest, unfortunately things are not the way they used to be.  Kids are bullies, and while we had bullies in school too, it seems as though they are worse these days than they used to be. Training Jiu Jitsu not only gives your child the skills to protect themselves in a bad situation where they are getting bullied, but it also, and I would argue, more importantly gives them the confidence of knowing that they have the skill set to defend themselves. 

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The reality of the situation is that bullies, like the criminals we may have to deal with as adults, are looking for an easy target and a confident child that walks, talks, and acts with confidence is not an easy target. The simply fact that they train Jiu Jitsu and are prepared for self defense situations should they come up, makes them less likely to get bullied in school. Crazy right, those who are most prepared are the ones least likely to have issues where they need to use the skills they have trained.  

Next, we have the overall health benefit of training Jiu Jitsu.  This one really is not up for debate. It’s very obvious that there are health benefits from exercising and Jiu Jitsu is one of the best forms of exercise on the planet.  Getting your kid(s) out on the mat will challenge them physically every single class. They will work hard, they will sweat, they will be exhausted at times. But most of all they will grow.  They will grow in both mental strength, and physical strength. They will witness themselves and others set goals, and achieve them, through belt promotions or competitions. They will learn what it takes to win, truly win, not a participation medal, but actually win in a real competition with real competitors.  They will learn and develop a work ethic to work hard and always keep moving towards the goal, regardless of how hard it gets, quitting is not an option. This skill will travel with them in everything they do in life, school, college, jobs, juggling the demands of school and work and friends, and and and…. 

Training Jiu Jitsu will teach them about being a part of something.  It will teach them out to be a good teammate, good sportsmanship how to win with humility and take a loss like a champion.  Jiu Jitsu will teach them to build others up, not to tear them down and it will give them the confidence to do what is right, knowing that are allowed to go against the grain if they need to.  Jiu Jitsu will build a courage in them unlike anything else, giving them the courage to stand up for themselves, to chase their dreams, and face challenges they previously thought were too daunting. 

So, again, not a tough sell, we know it is good for them, but how do we get them on the mats the first time?

Look, they want to be like you, you are a superhero to them.  All you have to do is make your mat time visible to them. Let them see you out there on the mats training hard with a smile on your face.  It will only be a matter of time before they will be begging you to let them train. This is the easy part. Just keep doing what you are doing, and be visible.  

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Now, once they start training, there may come a time where they start to lose interest, or want to focus on other things.  This is where you need to step in and set realistic expectations. It’s your job now to find balance between pushing them to continue, but not pushing so hard they resent Jiu Jitsu because of it.  In my opinion spending time with them on the mats playing around goes a long way. Once again, just because they started training does not mean you can stop doing all of the things that got them on the mats in the first place.  Playing positions with them on the mats (If your academy allows), making sure you are visible to them when you are putting in the work on the mats, and make sure they see your love for Jiu Jitsu. Keeping them on the mats might also be helping them understand that it’s going to be hard sometimes and that tapping doesn’t mean they aren’t good, pushing hard, staying out there and putting in the work is what matters and what turns regular kids into strong, tough, capable kids. 

The moral of all this is there is no blanket statement.  There is no one size fits all solution to getting your kid(s) on the mat and training.  Do what you think is best. Find the balance between pushing them to reach their potential, and pushing them so hard they hate Jiu Jitsu.  At the end of the day all we can do as parents is make sure they have visibility to it, access to it if / when they want, and support and encouragement to get out there and give it their best shot.

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