Why Should Kids Train BJJ?
The benefits of training jiu jitsu are almost too many to list. Whether you started training to learn self defense, get in shape, or even you were an MMA fan and wanted to learn more about some of the techniques in the cage, the positive benefits can be many.
You will come to find over time that the reason or reasons that initially brought you to jiu jitsu, organically develop into reasons that KEEP you training BJJ. You may have come to lose weight and found yourself falling in love with the competitive aspects of the sport. You may have started to learn some self defense and build your confidence and you may find yourself loving the idea of teaching others about the art.
The effect of jiu jitsu training on adults can be dramatic in terms of health, confidence, improved mindset, but how can the same activity also effect children. Martial arts have long been seen as a practical tool to help instill discipline and confidence in children. Let's look at three things that BJJ can offer children and how those things might be different than other sports, or even other martial arts.
BJJ Teaches Kids Practical Self Defense
While many martial arts teach aspects of self defense, few non-grappling based arts are as realistic and as practical as BJJ. Having studied Tae Kwon Do with my children for a number of years, I can assure you that in the first 6 months of jiu jitsu training, myself and my daughters learned more self defense than we did by the time we reached our black belt test in Tae Kwon Do.
This is not meant to be a slight on non-BJJ martial arts (much), but as a parent and consumer it's important to understand that in any striking based art, much of the work is done in the form of katas or simulations that are meant to 'represent' self defense or fighting scenarios but do not allow for practical application.
Though the artists performing the katas are extremely skilled, the vast majority of the techniques remain untested because they cannot be practiced with any level of real force, due to the possibility of injury. Whereas, BJJ can be practiced safely and at near 100% intensity with very little chance of injury to the participants.
BJJ Is Both Team Oriented and Individual Performance Based
One of the great things about jiu jitsu for children is that it is at the core an individual activity. The individual must work to master the techniques and achieve the proficiency to make progress in rank and belt color. It is up to the student to set goals, set priorities and persevere through the challenges that will face them along the way.
At the same time, one's success in jiu jitsu depends on the teammates and training partners that help us practice the techniques and support us in competition. By helping others, children learn valuable social skills and learn to see other people's needs as just as important as their own. In competition, the student and their teammates represents something bigger than themselves as well. This mix of team and individual performances can provide a great balance to some other sports and activities where the student athlete may not get to play for whatever reason.
BJJ Is An Activity Parents Can Engage In As Well
Although my daughters and I were both able to take Tae Kwon Do together, there is definitely something different in my experience with jiu jitsu. Jiu Jitsu allows me to actually train with my daughters. This connection alone for me, makes it a far superior experience, because though we could take classes side by side, there was not the same ability to actually train when we were studying Tae Kwon Do.
Jiu jitsu is much more malleable and adaptable for practitioners of all ages. It is something, if you're lucky, your parents started you at 4 or 5 years of age, but if you're like most of us, you start much older. The number of BJJ practitioners over 40 and old continues to grow everyday. It is said that Helio Gracie trained on the day of his death at 95 years old. If we're all lucky, maybe we'll end up like that too, surrounded by our children who have followed our footsteps onto the mats.
So whether you have kids of your own or not, BJJ is a great activity for people of all ages, especially children. So recommend it to others or get your own kids started so that someday, when you're 95, you can look back and be proud of the journey you all took together.
Check out the newest release "Half Guard Destruction" from Gabriel Procopio and learn the tips and tricks that helped him become one of half guard master Bernardo Faria's most important training partners. To survive a decade or more of training with the Michaael Jordan of half guard, Gabriel had to sharpen his destructive tendencies as they related to half guard. You can get the On Demand or DVD version here.