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Should I Get My Kids Into Jiu Jitsu? Is It Worth It?
Ideas on Kids and Jiu Jitsu…
As a parent and Jiu Jitsu practitioner, I believe exposure to Jiu Jitsu is invaluable to children. This article will explore Jiu Jitsu’s value to kids and talk on a high level about the best ways to get them involved.
First, it is important for me to teach my kids to defend themselves. As a father of daughters, this is especially true. They will always have a size and strength disadvantage against half the population. This is especially true in the #metoo era. I hope and pray that sexual assault is a challenge my daughters never face. Yet I want them well equipped if they do face it. I want them proficient in Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling and firearms. Basically, I want them to be little female John Wicks.
Beyond the risk of sexual assault, bullying is prevalent in our society. In my experience, girls are especially mean. Many articles have been written on why Jiu Jitsu is great for dealing with physical confrontation of bullying. I certainly do not need to expand on this subject. One facet of bullying beyond the physical confrontation is the emotional assault. This is compounded by the fact that kids are bullied in social media. In my day (that makes me sound old) you dealt with a bully at school. However, they did not have the ability to haunt every aspect of your life through social medial. Social media, beyond an overt way bullies can permeate every aspect of someone’s life, can also impact kids by providing unfair standards. Kids may not have the maturity to understand the standard that is set on social medial is not real life.
One way that Jiu Jitsu confronts these emotional assaults is that it makes you mentally tough. Learning something ,as hard as Jiu Jitsu, makes you mentally strong. Showing up consistently on the mats, despite any apparent disadvantages, gives you mentally endurance. Bravely confronting physical pain allows you to cultivate mentally tenacity.
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Beyond the mental toughness, there is another way Jiu Jitsu is great to attack the emotional component of bullying. Jiu Jitsu will rip your insecurities right out of you. I do not pretend to understand all the ways that Jiu Jitsu does this. One avenue has to be that you are given another way to evaluate people. Instead of seeing someone as physically more attractive because they are taller or whatever, you begin to recognize that there is a wide range of body types. People are not cookie cutters. There is not one physical ideal to be achieved. In Jiu Jitsu this leads to grappling strategies based on body types. In life,it takes the pressure off if you are not some arbitrary standard of beauty.
In addition to these two reasons, Jiu Jitsu also gives kids a tribe. It is a commons statement that you don’t join a Jiu Jitsu gym, you join a family. I believe the fact that you get a tribe will help kids with bullying. Other components of a good tribe are that it will give your kids an identity and keep them out of trouble. I know many of the mistakes of my youth could have been avoided with a tribe.
So while Jiu Jitsu is certainly beneficial to kids, the question becomes what is the best way to give your kids Jiu Jitsu. You do not want to force it upon them and turn them away from it. Something ,as hard as Jiu Jitsu, should not be undertaken with compulsion. I do not have all the answers of parenting but I do believe that it is important for parents to seek opportunities to enter their kid’s world and give them opportunities to enter yours. On a certain level, kids are going to be interested in what their parents do and who they are. Sharing your hobbies with them is a great way to do this. Besides that statement, I do not have a magic formula to sharing Jiu Jitsu with your kids. But like a submission, it should be gently crafted and not forced.
Jiu Jitsu is great for kids. This is true if you are a father worrying about daughters in the #metoo age or just want to introduce some structured discipline into their lives. Jiu Jitsu is also great to combat the physical and emotional components of bullying. Beyond these things, it gives your kids a tribe and identity. These are both key components in life. While the path to exposing Jiu Jitsu to your children may not be obvious. I am certain anyone who has the patience and strength to undertake something as difficult as Jiu Jitsu is up for the challenge.