Today there are more options than ever for parents when it comes to choosing a sport or an activity for their kids.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may not be the first choice for as it lacks the visibility of many of the more popular sports in today’s society. This is a shame as the the practice of grappling can be extremely rewarding physically, mentally and emotionally and has many benefits to offer the kids of today. As a result it is worth taking the time to consider what you want your child to learn from a particular sport
In this article I have outlined some of the main benefits that BJJ can offer to children.
FITNESS AND ATHLETICISM
BJJ is an extremely athletic sport that requires you to use nearly every part of your body. Through Jiu-Jitsu you will develop strength, flexibility, agility, and cardiovascular fitness. Developing these skills and attributes at an early age is important and will instill habits and an understanding of fitness that they will hopefully retain for the rest of their lives.
Many parents choose to enroll their kids in team sports as it is a chance for them to bond with their peers while also learning the value of teamwork. It may seem from the outside that Jiu-Jitsu is a solo sport but this could not be further from the truth.
When you join an academy you are joining a team. It is nearly impossible to practice Jiu-Jitsu alone and everything you do in Jiu-Jitsu will be alongside your team.
Not only will you will support you teammates when learning techniques, if you decide to compete in tournaments you will do so as part of a team. Nearly everything you do in Jiu-Jitsu will be done alongside a group of individuals that you will bond and grow with. BJJ academies are typically very social places.
Hopefully no child will ever be placed in a situation where they will have to physically defend themselves. However it is impossible to protect them 24/7, so it is nice to know that they have the ability to protect themselves if necessary.
Jiu-Jitsu teaches you to control an opponent as opposed to physically hurting them which makes it the especially good for anti-bullying.
Respect is a core principle of every established martial art. In particular Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches respect for your coach, respect for your teammates, respect for your competitors, and most importantly, respect for yourself.
In my opinion, this is one of the most important lessons for any child and the traditional nature of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the perfect environment for a child to learn these important lessons.
As a child’s ability on the mat grows, so does their confidence. In the kids program at my academy, we consistently see shy children slowly emerge from their shells as their confidence grows alongside their ability. Children that may have previously been unable to maintain eye contact begin to confidently into class, eager to engage with everyone around them.
In today’s politically correct world, competition at kid’s level is often looked upon as something negative. However, competition helps kids learn that it is not always the best athletes who are successful, but rather those that work hard and stick with it.
BJJ competition is not compulsory but is an option for parents that would like to see their children compete. Kids BJJ Competitions are usually very well organized and run in a safe environment under strict rulesets.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has a clear and well defined progression structure for children. Just like adults, children are graded and awarded belts/tips based on the amount of time spent training in conjunction with their level of skill.
This system of progression teaches children that reward is gained through effort and an investment of time spent learning. As mentioned above, it is not about winning but about getting a little bit better every day. In this way BJJ encourages children to develop a growth mindset.
Perhaps most importantly, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most fun things a child can do. Whether training in the Gi or Nogi, all it takes is a few classes for many people become addicted to the sport and spend every moment of spare time trying to improve their skills. What makes it really fun is that you get to do it alongside your friends. If you are lucky like me, the friends you make in Jiu-Jitsu will be friends for life. Unlike television, ipads and candy, this is a rare example of a ‘positive’ addiction that can help all areas of a child’s life.
If you have kids and want the best for them, then you owe it to them to at least give them the chance to try this amazingly beneficial activity.