We get it. There are only so many hours in a day and, as a parent, it’s hard to know what to commit your child to. If you’re on this page though, we’re guessing you’re interested in having your kid train a martial art. Obviously, we think that’s a fabulous idea!
If that’s you, here’s what you need to know about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), and why it’s a great choice for kids.
Firstly, what is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? It’s a grappling discipline that focuses on ground-based combat. There are no strikes in BJJ. That may sound odd, as most people think of punches and kicks when they think of martial arts. But the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu is undeniable: There’s a reason it’s become the foundation of modern mixed martial arts.
Crucially, BJJ is designed so as to be used by smaller people against larger opponents. That principle was best articulated by Helio Gracie, who helped found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. “Always assume that your opponent is going to be bigger, stronger and faster than you,” Gracie said, “so that you learn to rely on technique, timing and leverage rather than brute strength.”
Gracie Botany is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) academy located near Matraville. We offer children’s classes every day of the week, split into tots, big kids and teens. Here are four reasons why BJJ is the best martial art for your kid.
BJJ is designed to be used on larger opponents
As the Helio Gracie quote above indicates, the guiding principle of BJJ is that the techniques your kids learn in class should work on larger opponents. Obviously, that has significant self-defense implications when it comes to dealing with, for instance, larger bullies on the playground.
Jiu-Jitsu’s ground-based orientation is a major factor here. Generating power is much easier when you’re standing up as compared to when you’re on the ground. By learning to take someone to the ground, practitioners neutralize some of the advantages that come with additional size and strength.
To be clear, even in Jiu-Jitsu, size and athleticism matters. It’s an asset to be big and strong. But the point of BJJ training is that if your kid hones their technique enough, they can overcome the disadvantages of being smaller. But it really works: Anyone who’s been training for a while will tell you how they’ve been manhandled by someone much smaller and weaker than them.
It’s surprisingly safe
There are two ways people commonly injure themselves in martial arts. The first is accidentally copping a blow to the head. The second is from being slammed to the ground and landing in an awkward position.
Since Jiu-Jitsu features no striking, that first risk is greatly minimized. Takedowns are a part of Jiu-Jitsu training, but far less prominent than in other grappling arts like wrestling and Judo. These skills are also only taught to older practitioners who’ve developed other BJJ skills.
It would be a lie to say that Jiu-Jitsu is completely risk free. As with any physical activity, there is an injury risk. But because the two major martial arts injury risks are minimized, BJJ is surprisingly safe.
BJJ is very practical
The previous point leads into a similarly important feature of Jiu-Jitsu. Because it’s inherently safe, it’s possible for kids to train at high intensity with each other.
Once kids are old enough, they’ll start sparring on the Gracie Botany mats. Sparring consists of kids grappling to achieve a dominant position and then, if possible, applying a submission hold. Once a submission hold is applied, the other practitioner taps out, the kids bump fists and start the game again. We call this “rolling.”
Once kids have been training for a while, it becomes possible to roll at high intensity. This is key, because it allows BJJ practitioners of all ages to test the techniques they’ve learned in real-time against a resisting opponent.
It’s not like punching a bag or breaking a wooden block that doesn’t fight back. Rolling teaches kids what works and doesn’t work in a self-defense situation.
BJJ is really fun
Something can be great for you, but if you don’t enjoy it you’ll never make a habit of doing it. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is good for kids’ health, teaches them self-defense and gives them a new social circle to connect with. But none of that would matter if it wasn’t fun.
Thankfully, it is! Jiu-Jitsu is a deeply complex martial art, one that’s still evolving. It’s hard to learn, but practitioners young and old become addicted. Learning techniques, figuring out what works for you and rolling with your friends becomes an irresistible process.
If you’re in the Matraville area and are interested in signing your kids up to martial arts classes, come into Gracie Botany for a free trial.