Gracie Miranda has a thriving community of young grapplers, with parents from all over Sutherland Shire bringing their kids in to learn children’s self defense.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a fantastic martial art for kids, as it teaches practical skills in a safe way. Just like the adults who train BJJ, a lot of kids grow to love the art of Jiu-Jitsu. Parents also love seeing their young ones learn and employ children’s self-defense techniques.
But being a Jiu-Jitsu parent brings some challenge. There are often questions about what’s acceptable and unacceptable, as well as what helps kids and what doesn’t.
Know when to push
First, a quick explanation of what BJJ is. Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling martial art, not a striking art. At Gracie Miranda, kids learn to defend themselves with wrestling techniques rather than punches and kicks. They’ll learn how to restrain an aggressor and, if absolutely necessary, how to use submission locks.
BJJ is a particularly good martial art for kids because its training replicates real-world altercations, but in a safe way. Striking martial arts, like Kung-Fu or Taekwando, certainly teach valuable self-defense skills. But it’s difficult to train both intensely and safely, since training intensely would mean exchanging high-impact strikes.
In Jiu-Jitsu, with kids and with adults, sparring (“rolling”) lets two partners grapple with each other vigorously. One subdues the other and wins the game by catching them in a submission lock. The caught partner taps out, and the game begins again. No one gets hurt, but everyone learns.
Naturally, at Gracie Miranda we tailor training based on the age and particular characteristics of kids. No one is put in any position that’s too far out of their comfort zone, and young kids won’t spar intensely. But the training that is done is still more practical than training found in other arts.
Understanding a bit about BJJ is helpful as a parent. The inclination of many parents is the push their kids to work harder and be better. That’s completely understandable, and it’s important to push kids in BJJ. But it has to be done in the right way.
One of the difficulties many parents have, especially if they’ve never trained martial arts, is understanding how hard the kids are working. Something as fundamental as a hip escape, a technique we practice during warm ups, requires considerable coordination and effort.
This, combined with the fact that Jiu-Jitsu is a strategic game more than an aggressive one, can lead to parents mistakenly pushing their children too hard, or at the wrong time. Children’s self-defense isn’t like soccer, running or other sports, where more exertion leads to better results.
This leads to a problem some parents have: pushing their kids to never lose. If you lose a roll, some parents reason, it’s because you weren’t trying hard enough. In BJJ, everyone loses. It’s a spar-heavy art, and losing is part of it. Instead of encouraging your kid to work harder, try and get them to reflect on what caused the loss.
What did they do right? What did they do wrong? Often times it could be that kids are pushing too hard. What’s important for kids, just like adults, isn’t that they win. It’s that they show up to class and learn.
Kids can be lazy. I know I was. Kids can give up prematurely. I know I did.
These are the two most important areas where parents can help their boys and girls learn children’s self defense through Jiu-Jitsu. Make sure they get to class, and make sure they don’t give up.
BJJ will change your kids life. It sounds like a big statement, but ask any adult who’s trained Jiu-Jitsu for any considerable amount of time and they’ll tell you. It makes you more perseverant and disciplined. But it’s not easy.
There are days and weeks where BJJ practitioners, whether kids or adults, can’t figure out how to make a technique work. It gets frustrating, and self-doubt is a common problem. The answer to this problem, for adults and kids, is to just keep training.
Don’t tell your kid they need to win all the time. Don’t shout at them to train with more intensity. Just give them a boost when they’re either too lazy or demotivated to come to class. They’ll thank you later.
If you’re interested in learning BJJ, or having your child learn children’s self defense, come into Gracie Miranda for a free trial lesson.
By Daniel Van Boom