We love our kids classes! Not only is it awesome seeing kids pull off slick jiu jitsu moves, but it’s also great to see how each kid grows in confidence as they continue to progress on the mats.
At Training Grounds BJJ & MMA, it is our firm belief that BJJ is the greatest martial art for kids of any age group. There are many ways that training jiu jitsu can help nurture children into a stronger, more confident, and more disciplined version of themselves.
In fact, if we tried to list them, this blog post would become way to long. So, for both your sake and ours, we’ve condensed them into the top 3 reasons why BJJ is the best martial art for kids.
1. BJJ Provides an Outlet.
Kids love to play. They come equipped with a seemingly endless supply of energy, along with a desire to run, jump, crawl, and roll around every place that they go. In fact, research has shown that it’s actually good for kids to play — it’s how they learn the most basic skills for navigating through the world we live in, both physically and mentally.
Still, there are times when “play” must be restricted in order to make time for other important things, like learning how to read, write, and use mathematics. The result of this is that most kids don’t get nearly the amount of physical activity that they want and need.
Enter jiu jitsu. When kids first enter our facility in Bergen county, if they’re not feeling nervous, they immediately start to play. Just the mat room itself is like a dream for children!
Think about it. It’s basically a padded room. They can freely run, jump, crawl, and roll without hurting themselves.
In addition, BJJ itself is a great martial art for letting kids “play” in a disguised fashion. jiu jitsu differs from most other martial arts available for children, which focus on kicking, punching, and performing coreographed movements called katas.
(Check Out Her Moves!)
Instead, jiu jitsu focuses on grappling. As such, all of the moves are extremely interactive, which is a fancy way of saying that kids get to grab, push, and pull one another in a safe and controlled manner — all while learning techniques that actually work in self defense situations!
This is great because it allows kids use up some of their energy while also being productive. Grappling is also very physically tiring because it engages your entire body. For you parents, this means that even most energetic child will be exhausted (in a good way) by the end of class.
The number 2 reason that BJJ is the best martial for kids is that:
2. BJJ Builds Confidence and Makes Kids Bully-proof!
Adult life is stressful. As a result, many adults look back and think of childhood as an idyllic period full of sunshine and rainbows. However, the truth is that sometimes, being a kid can be scary.
Everything is new for a child. They spend most of their time trying to do things that they haven’t yet had the time to master. Trying new things is daunting, even for grown-ups.
In addition, while we may all wish otherwise, the reality is that not every kid they meet is going to be nice. Personally, I believe that no such thing as a “bad” kid, but there are definitely kids out there who have not yet learned how to interact with others in a healthy way. (i.e, haven’t been properly socialized).
Think back on your childhood, to the first time that a kid who was bigger and meaner than you tried to test your boundaries. Maybe they put you down with nasty words, or demanded that you get off of the swings. Maybe they pushed you when you refused. Whatever the case, moments like these are frightening and can make you feel low, but your child doesn’t need to feel that way!
The thing about bullies is that they only pick on people who they believe to be weaker than they are.
While they may seem big, strong, and intimidating on the outside, they are almost always low in self-esteem and, quite frankly, afraid. That’s why they need to put someone else down in order to prove to themselves that they are strong.
However, when someone stands up to them, their sense of strength and power crumbles away because it was never based on anything substantial in the first place. Their confidence was fake, and based on external factors like being feared by their peers.
On the other hand, BJJ builds confidence from the inside out. Our academy in Bergen county gives kids something real to base their self-confidence on. We not only teach them skills they can use to defend themselves, but also how to trust their skills and stand up for themselves when someone tries to push them around.
True confidence comes from a combination of competence and belief in one’s own self. Most bullies don’t dare mess with a confident kid, but if they do, BJJ will give your kid a much better chance of keeping him or herself safe.
Last but not least, BJJ is the best martial art for kids because:
3. BJJ Teaches Kids How to Fail Forward
One of the the unique things about BJJ is the sheer number of times you fail as you learn it.
The movements that make up jiu jitsu are almost completely different from the way that you move in day-to-day life. As a result, it’s normal to fail dozens of times before successfully executing a technique, even in drilling! This is especially the case in the beginning, when everything is new.
Now, these failures aren’t huge. In fact, they’re “micro failures” — small experiences of coming short of a desired result. With that said, it’s still not fun to fail at something, especially if you have a low tolerance to it.
Think about a time when you were unable to do something, even after repeated attempts. It’s a frustrating feeling, isn’t it? Now, think about how a child, who has vastly less experience dealing with failure than we do, feels after a similar experience.
If you’ve ever seen a child reduced to tears over a tricky math problem, or after being caught in a game of tag, you know what I’m talking about.
They may cry, throw tantrums, and blame everyone and the world itself for being unfair, but deep down inside, they’re really just upset at themselves for losing. Kids can be incredibly hard on themselves. To them, “losing” can sometimes mean that they are “losers.” A common reaction is for children to develop an intense fear of losing which, unfortunately, causes them to avoid anything that they deem too difficult or puts them at risk of taking a loss.
The renowned child psychologist, Carol Dweck, calls this phenomenon a result of something called a fixed theory of ability. In her research, which was mainly concerned with performance in the classroom, she found that:
Students who hold a “fixed” theory are mainly concerned with how smart they are—they prefer tasks they can already do well and avoid ones on which they may make mistakes and not look smart. In contrast, she said, people who believe in an “expandable” or “growth” theory of intelligence want to challenge themselves to increase their abilities, even if they fail at first.
Children (and people in general) who hold a growth mindset are more likely to keep trying despite failure. This is because they believe that their abilities can be nurtured and grown based on effort, not innate ability. On the other hand, children who hold fixed mindsets give up faster because they believe that “smartness” or “ability” are fixed attributes.
Another psychologist, Angela Duckworth, found that “grit,” or the ability to persevere for extended periods of time despite failures, difficulties, and setbacks, was the most significant predictor for success in children, moreso than even talent.
Between person A, who holds a fixed mindset of ability, and person B, who holds a growth mindset, who do you think will be more likely to develop “grit?”
This is why exposing kids to tons and tons of small, manageable micro-failures is so great for them. Experiencing so much failure in jiu jitsu gives you thicker skin. It teaches you to stop getting so hung up about each and every success or failure and focusing more on the process of training as a whole.
More importantly, it teaches you that the result of persistently pressing forward despite these failures is eventual success! Whether it’s finally figuring out how to do a triangle choke or earning a stripe on their belt, BJJ lets kids experience first-hand the link between persistence and achievement.
In this way, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu automatically teaches kids to start adopting a growth mindset. This, in turn, builds up their grit, or ability to stay persistent.
By learning how to accept their failures in BJJ, kids will not only be better equipped to deal with failures in other avenues of life, but also develop the persistence to push through their failures and keep going towards their goals.
Kids are taught math, reading, and science all day but seldom get a chance to develop their confidence or ability to stand up for themselves.
Jiu jitsu builds confidence from the inside out. Our program teaches kids to not only hold their ground against a bully, but to back it up and defend themselves if it ever comes down to it.
Schools are great at teaching kids information so that they can earn “good marks,” but neglect to allow children enough time to express themselves through the timeless act of moving their bodies.
Jiu jitsu gives kids a chance to burn off a portion of their boundless energy while also strengthening their bodies, developing coordination and balance, and teaching them how to persist through failure.
BJJ isn’t the end-all-be-all for a child’s needs. However, it definitely fills a lot of gaps left by traditional developmental methods.
At the end of the day, BJJ won’t be for everyone — but it has definitely helped a lot of people, kids and grown-ups alike (myself included!), become more happier, more confidence, and more balanced individuals. That’s why we want to share this art with as many people as we can!
Get your kid into BJJ today! Come visit us at our academy in Westwood, NJ and try it out FREE for 30 days.
— Coach Joe
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