Intro Series: BJJ For Kids and Teens All the Benefits
Updated: Aug 13, 2022
What do most parents want at the end of a long work day besides maybe a favorite
beverage or a hot bath? TIRED KIDS!
That's right. Tired kids. Expended energy. Kids that will gladly brush their teeth and go to bed after a long day. At least this is what I imagine the parents of young children long for. I can't quite speak to this elusive wish, as I became a parent of pre-teens and skipped the whole high energy phase. I do, however, have an energetic gaggle of nieces, nephews and cousins who are 6 and under. I love each of them dearly.
While I can't guarantee a good night's sleep, I can say that children reap numerous benefits from learning martial arts. In our gym we focus on confidence, anti-bullying, and discipline. These are the obvious goals. We foster a child's sense of accomplishment with positive feedback, while firmly teaching good technique to prevent injury. It is important to celebrate small victories, for anyone, but especially for children learning something new. These celebrations serve as positive reinforcement, because we all know how defeating it can be to feel like we are bad at something when, in reality, we are just learning.
Confidence is built through these small celebrations of success. When others recognize your accomplishments, it elevates your own sense of accomplishment. To be completely honest, sometimes I don't even rate something I've done as an accomplishment until someone points out to me how well I've done. This recognition is important in it's truest and honest form. I'm not talking participation trophies that foster a false sense of accomplishment. I mean acknowledging that a child (or anyone) is improving on their forward rolls, finally executed a clean armbar that he/she has been working hard at, or completed a successful take down. These are the building blocks of confidence, which is the number one bully deterrent.
It is well known and documented that bullies target "easy prey". Through Jiu Jitsu a sense of pride, confidence and accomplishment is created. This combination does not make for easy prey. BJJ practitioners tend to carry themselves with more confidence, like a cloak of "not easily messed with". Bullies typically sense this and tend to engage confident kids less. This is not the only anti-bully benefit of BJJ. Kids also learn fairness and respect through BJJ. This makes them less likely to bully other kids. Children are taught these fighting techniques, but also WHEN it is appropriate to use them. BJJ is not a striking martial art, rather one of controlled, flowing movement. It is known as the gentle art for a reason.
Discipline is a harsh, but important word. In the wrong context it can sound domineering and cold. A noun or verb that uses punishment as correction. This is not the case when training BJJ, or learning any sport for that matter. In this context discipline does not use punishment as correction. Discipline means to train to obey the rules or a code of behavior. It is the code that is important in a martial arts gym. There is tradition woven through each class. Shoes are taken off as a sign of respect (and to not ruin the mats). Many people will bow before stepping onto the practice mat, though this is not specific to BJJ but many other martial arts disciplines. A practice that is specific to BJJ is the slap-bump. Don't let your imagine run away with you. This is a sign of mutual respect and sportsmanship, much like tapping gloves before a boxing match or bowing before a karate match. I could not figure out where it originated, but it is widely practiced in BJJ today. This hand slap/fist bump combo indicates the start of a roll. It serves as a mutual agreement of fair play and to watch out for each other. It lets your partner know that you respect him/her and will guard their physical safety as you try to submit them :).