Self-defence is an important skill for kids to have. We assume you agree – why else would you be reading this page! The difficult decision parents have to make here is which martial art to choose.
There are plenty of martial arts out there, which makes this a common conundrum for parents. At Gracie Botany, we believe Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is the perfect martial art for children. It’s safe, fun and, most important, will teach your kid all the self-defence skills they’ll need.
Before we go on, it’s worthwhile to point one thing out. We offer a free trial class for new members of any age. So if you’re curious, please feel free to come meet us in person and see what Jiu-Jitsu is all about!
But that may be getting ahead of ourselves. In case you don’t know, a refresh on Jiu-Jitsu might be needed.
What is BJJ?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that emanates from Brazil – duh. While “Jiu-Jitsu” is in it’s name, it’s actually a form of Judo, not the traditional Japanese Jujitsu. It began with the Gracie family, who learned Judo from an accomplished Japanese practitioner in the early 20th century. The founder of BJJ is Helio Gracie. He was smaller and weaker than his brothers. He modified the techniques to accommodate his relative disadvantages in training with them.
The eventual result is what we now call Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s also sometimes called “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu”, as the Gracie family continues to spearhead the art. Gracie Botany traces its lineage back to the family, with direct links to Helio Gracie’s son Royler. Learning with us means learning from the source.
OK, so that’s the history. But for you, the most important factor is that Helio Gracie designed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to be a self-defence system that works against larger, stronger opponents. To achieve this, he took Judo skills and took them to the ground. If your aggressor is grounded, they’re less able to generate force. That means size and strength mean less on the ground than standing up.
So to recap, BJJ is a grappling-based martial art that predominantly takes place on the ground. Note: There are no strikes in Jiu-Jitsu.
“The Jiu Jitsu I created was designed to give the weak ones a chance to face the heavy and strong,” Helio once explained.
More than any other martial art, size, strength and athletic ability are not the key factors in Jiu-Jitsu. Skill and technique are. Small practitioners with excellent technique regularly overcome larger, less competent foes.
How does it teach self-defence to kids?
As you can imagine, the “technique is more important than size” dimension is particularly valuable for kids.
Of course, this has to be spoken of within reason. A 10 year old practitioner with average skill is unlikely to be able to protect themselves against an adult. Martial arts aren’t magic. But can Jiu-Jitsu give children self-defence skills to protect themselves against bigger bullies? Absolutely!
Kids who practice BJJ learn a variety of defensive skills. They learn how to break the grips of aggressors, which allows them to free themselves from bad situations and run away. They learn how to outmaneuver an opponent and establish a dominant position, like taking their back. Finally, they learn how to apply submission holds like armbars or chokes.
This is a crucial part of Jiu-Jitsu’s value as a self-defence system. It gives children a variety of ways to respond to bullies and aggressors. Martial arts like Muay Thai and Taekwondo can teach practitioners devastating strikes, but sometimes a devastating strike is not the answer.
Faced with an unsafe situation, a Jiu-Jitsu trained child can decide how to react. They can escape, they can subdue or that can submit. The severity of the situation will inform their response.
The final point is more abstract, but no less important. Martial arts teach kids confidence. It’s a sad truth that most bullies pick on people weaker than them. In having the confidence to stand up for themselves or others, martial arts trained kids are likely to avoid many bullying encounters.
If you or your child is interested in learning Jiu-Jitsu, come into Gracie Botany for a free trial class.