WHAT AGE CAN A CHILD START JIU JITSU
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an extremely dynamic and systematic form of combat that incorporates elements of functional fitness, muscular strength, technical application, flexibility and strategy. The art has evolved exponentially since Helio Gracie first developed the self defense system, as nowadays many high level athletes are showcasing their grappling skills on the international stage.
What This Article Covers:
- What Is a Good Age to Start BJJ
- What Can a Child Expect from a BJJ School
- The Belt Ranking System
- What Should Children Focus on
- Competition BJJ
- The Benefits of Training in BJJ
Platforms like the ADDC, IBJJF, Fight 2 Win, and Who's Number One are leading the way, as these televised events are driving the growth rate of the sport through the roof. The popularity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has skyrocketed, as many aspiring athletes are joining the ranks of the famous Brazilian art. The influx of students range from children as young as three, and extend up to students starting bjj at 50. Training in BJJ is an art form that anyone can learn, as this includes people of all ages, races, and mindsets.
WHAT IS A GOOD AGE TO START BJJ
Children can start jiu jitsu from as young as three years old at some BJJ academies, where at most schools kids classes start from five years of age. Being so young kids have short attention spans, which means they lose focus easily, as other distractions will creep in. Teaching children at five years of age can be difficult, as an instructor will be lucky to get twenty minutes of focus out of each child. This is why most academies will focus more on movement based drills, and functional games that represent core movements in BJJ. Teaching young kids the intricate series of techniques just won't work, as the children will struggle to retain the information that is taught. For young kids it's all about having fun, and engaging in the lesson, as instructors will help build a child's confidence, and give them a pathway towards building new friendships, working together in a team environment, and respecting all members of the gym.
As a child grows over the first couple years of BJJ, they will begin to grasp the knowledge of all the major control positions. So by the time they are seven or eight years of age, they will have a greater capacity to understand the teachings, as they will begin to retain the information. At this older age an instructor can begin to add more technical aspects to the instruction, as the children will start to become well versed in many of these aspects. By this stage students are usually into the grey belt group, meaning they are either a grey belt, a grey and black belt, or a grey and white belt. Some students may even have excelled past the grey belt stage, and are looking to touch on the yellow belt group. These can be important times for kids, as they transition into training jiu jitsu for teens.
WHAT CAN A CHILD EXPECT FROM A BJJ SCHOOL
When children join a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy they can expect a very warm welcome. Every member of a BJJ school is extremely encouraging, inspiring, nurturing, and understanding, as they all look to help children navigate through the Martial Art. First impressions can be everything, and this is why instructors of an academy are very playful, and know how to make the children laugh. This is an important aspect to help break down the barriers that children will put up when they feel self conscious. Training Jiu Jitsu for the first time can be daunting, and embarrassing, as children will often shy away from the spotlight. All academies will endeavor to bring children out of their shells, and help them gain confidence, and become engaged in the lesson. This is extremely important for a child's self worth, as they will soon discover their BJJ academy can be their safe place.
In terms of activities children can expect to learn an abundance of movement based drills. Many of these drills represent animal movements, and this is an easy way to spark the interest within the child. Many of the movements include bear crawls, hip shrimps, crocodile walks, gorilla passes, crab walks, and scorpion hops. Using terminology that kids understand will help them tremendously in retaining the information. Instructors will use terms like cheeseburger grip, or lego man grip, sweaty chest, or stomp the bug, as each of these terms have a specific meaning that will help the child remember the movement. Children can also expect to learn one or two techniques that they will practise with their partner. Towards the end of the session children will engage in live rolling rounds, or judo takedown rounds, where students will simulate a BJJ match. At the end of all sessions most instructors will play games, as this can be a good reward for a student that pays attention throughout the lesson. Often the students will be excited about the games at the end of the lesson, and this will help them behave and listen to their instructor throughout their session.
THE BELT RANKING SYSTEM
The belt ranking system for children is diversely different to the adult system. Adults that are starting bjj at 30 are often outranked by children, until they reach their blue belts. When a child begins their journey through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu they will start off as a white belt. Every belt rank they earn they will acquire four stripes in order to move up to the next belt colour. Once they have reached the end of their white belt phase they will move into the grey belt group. Each belt colour has a group of three different belts, and for students that move up from the white belt, they will start on their grey and white striped belt. After earning four stripes on this belt they will move up to their solid grey belt, and then in turn their grey and black belt.
The next phase of a child's learning starts when they reach the age of seven. Children will earn the belts in the yellow belt group, as this will happen between the years of seven and ten. Like the grey belt group, the yellow belt group is the same, starting with the yellow and white belt, followed by the solid yellow belt, and finishing with the yellow and black belt. Ten years and over students will move into the orange belt group, where they will again earn their orange and white belt, then a solid orange belt, followed by the orange and black belt. In some special cases students can earn these belts at younger ages, but for most students it will be between the ages of ten and thirteen. During the next three years of a student's learning, they will become extremely technical, as they reach the highest levels in the children's belt ranking. The green belt group is reserved for students that excel in BJJ, as they will start with a green and white belt, followed by the solid green, and finishing with the green and black belt. The next step for a child can only happen when they turn sixteen years of age, as they will skip the adult white belt, and move straight into an adult blue belt. The children's belt ranking pathway can be a great launchpad for children to become world class athletes.
WHAT SHOULD CHILDREN FOCUS ON
Children that start BJJ will need to focus on many of the fundamental movements that will help boost their game style. Just like adult students, or jiu jitsu for old guys, kids can also waste too much time trying to do fancy movements. The focus of a child should be on the basics like mastering all control positions like the mount, back control, side control, and the guard. The only way for students to build the right pathway in BJJ, is to understand the building blocks that make BJJ work. The little things are what's important in BJJ like framing, posturing, balance, and bridging. Children should master all of these concepts before they worry too much about more extensive techniques. There is no use becoming masterful at submissions if you cannot escape from them. Learning how to escape from different positions, or from different submissions is one of the most important aspects, as it will help a child escape from danger, while looking for avenues to attack.
Competitive BJJ has become mainstream all over the world, as students of all ages are showcasing their talents nationally, and internationally. With the rise of international BJJ, many athletes are striving to become world champions in the IBJJF, and the ADCC platforms. Nowadays children are competing in BJJ with high efficiency, and extreme levels of motivation. Some parents will worry whether their children will be safe competing in a BJJ tournament, and rightfully so. One thing that parents should note is that all children are extremely safe to compete in a BJJ tournament, and this is highly due to how professional the competitions are run. All children's matches are adjudicated by extremely experienced black belt professors, as they are extremely cautious, and will not allow students to be endangered.
There are many rules that differentiate children's BJJ from adult BJJ. A child competing has a lot more restrictions in place, and this is for their own safety. There are many different maneuvers that are illegal in a children's BJJ match like guillotine chokes, ezekiel chokes, and many others. Children are also not allowed to use any form of leg locks, or endangering transitional movements. A kid's match can be quite timid, as they are still learning how to move correctly within the artform. With all this in mind, kids do show exceptional skills, as their movements are quick, and extremely technical. Most kids matches will end with a points win, as it becomes a battle of transition, and control position. There are a few matches that end by submission, but the referee is always in a really good position to save a child from any kind of injury.
THE BENEFITS OF TRAINING IN BJJ
There are many benefits that children will receive from training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For starters the physical benefits are insurmountable, as they will learn how to move in an extremely technical way. BJJ is basically an extension of human movement, as when children are born they learn to crawl, walk, run, and jump, but why should it end there, as the next step moves into more acrobatic movements like cartwheels, forward rolls, and backwards rolls. Training in BJJ will help a child develop a plethora of different movements, which can help them increase their strength, flexibility, dexterity, and agility. Becoming physically gifted allows children to stay extremely fit and healthy, and be able to defend themself when they are in volatile situations.
One of the greatest aspects of learning BJJ is the humility they will learn. Unguided children can become extremely mean, and easily take the wrong path in life, due to peer pressure. BJJ will teach a child to respect all members of the community, while still giving them insight into assessing any kind of danger. Half the battle of a real conflict situation is identifying the danger, and knowing how to de-escalate the situation, or engage in the conflict. Students will learn many of these skills during their progression in BJJ. When a student is training BJJ they can be under a lot of pressure, and this will translate into real life, as they will get used to making the right decisions while under an intense amount of pressure. Learning how to make the right decisions is crucial to the progression of a child, not just in BJJ, but in their lifestyle.
Another important benefit that children will see is how they can build up their confidence levels. This will happen as they will engage in team orientated activities, facilitated by encouraging and inspiring people. The importance of a child learning to be confident, and then knowing how to engage with other people from different cultures, is vital to how they will head off into the world in their future. Becoming extremely good at BJJ doesn't necessarily mean they are unbeatable, but what it does give the child is self belief, and at the end of the day developing this attitude within themself can give a child the best opportunity to build a future. A BJJ academy is a great place for children to make new friends, and this is extremely important for how the child will adapt to their future relationships in life. Training BJJ is a must for all children, as not only does it give them functional fitness, a great sense of self defense, but it also helps them become better people.
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