When Should Children Start BJJ?
When It's Time...It Will Be The Best Thing You Ever Did For Your Children
When I first started training jiu jitsu 10 years ago, our academy had kid’s classes three days a week, before the adult classes. At the time, I thought the majority of those students were a little too young to understand what they were doing. I felt some did not have the discipline needed, others wouldn’t take it as serious as others, and many did not have a very long attention span to sit and learn the moves. Seeing this as a new student and as someone who wasn’t involved in it, I did not feel a connection to the class nor did I fully understand what was happening.
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Over the past 6 months, I’ve begun helping teach kid’s classes at our academy. Our youngest group of students range from 4 to 6 years old, where we typically go over how to break grips when somebody grabs them, and if they should happen to fall to the ground, we show them basic, simple passes and escapes; we teach them simple and easy to learn self-defense techniques. Our older group of kids are in an age range of 7 to 13, where we teach self-defense, submissions (for cooperation, not to attack or hurt our opponent/attacker), and fundamentals of jiu jitsu.
At first, I had the same mentality about what age we should be teaching children, but I still hadn’t yet been involved. Within the past couple months, we’ve had a few kids move up to older age groups. In particular, one of our younger students, who just turned 7 and received his gray belt, jumped right in with the older kids. At first I was concerned that he might not enjoy it as much as he used to since it was a whole new experience with bigger kids, I thought he would lose interest or be disheartened. At the end of his first class, he was rolling with some more advanced kids and even though he was getting swept a little more often than others, he never gave up. On his second day, he helped another kid prepare for a competition. Again, he was swept quite a few times, but he still never gave up. He had the basics down and knew what he had to do, and he kept fighting.
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Also, we had some kids receive their solid yellow belts and then moved up to the adult classes. They weren’t very big for their age, but they were just as excited as the coaches were to be moving up to a new class structure. After a few classes, they too were rolling with larger teammates, and giving them a hard time.
After recognizing the respect that these kids show and the heart they put into it, I now realize that we should be putting our children into jiu jitsu at an age as early as our academies allow. At any age there is an opportunity to learn. So, if you’re undecided about having your child start because you feel they are too young or too small, let them try a class. If they enjoy it, let them go as often as they can. You will see a tremendous boost in confidence and a new side of them that shows some fight. If they don’t enjoy it, give it a little longer until the time is right.