Upon deciding to open classes for children to compliment our adult program, some questions naturally arose. Will the focus be on competition? How about self defense? Do you do a bully proof program? Can you teach discipline?
We have the same structure as the adult class.
Our time frame is shorter, and the pace is a little faster. Eventually, they will be ready to switch to the adult class with confidence. The movements will be mostly the same, with some attacks omitted for competition legality. Rank will look a little different. There are children’s belts, but they need to be at least 16 and show exceptional skill to get a blue belt (the lowest adult colored belt). There are no child purple, brown, or black belts anywhere. Promotions will be based on individual progress, for no additional cost, and there will be no testing.
Different ages need different things.
Much like raising children, teaching and coaching is an ongoing education. Little kids can be taught basic movements, and the general direction to go. Eight to twelve year olds can handle surprisingly complex movements. But, they can vary in size a lot. Matchups are kept as fair as possible, but they will also learn how to stay safe in a mismatch. Teenagers
Discipline is expected, not preached.
Instead of trying to produce self defense or discipline, the benefits are allowed to naturally occur. BJJ is a game with many positions to learn. Kids learn what patterns to expect from a position, then learn to navigate to other places. They need to put in effort over time to make use of their skills. Failure is inevitable and constant. Concrete realities are encountered; some people will be bigger and stronger, positions can be very difficult, other students will have years of experience and seem impossible to deal with. This opens the way for higher level problem solving skills. Temper control, accurate analysis, juggling multiple considerations, and abstract thinking all develop with patience and practice.
What about an anti bully campaign?
Self defense also tends to develop naturally. The point system points you to be in places that are hard to attack. Emphasizing BJJ as a game instead of a fight helps to curb aggressive behavior. Simply put- a BJJ practitioner can fight, but is not preoccupied with fighting.
Kids will experience social benefits.
Because of the complex nature of the game, communication skills also develop. Collaboration with others, and attention to detail is necessary to overcome problems quickly. Asking questions with confidence and clarity, seeking out specific results, and weighing returns for further consideration develop alongside technical skills.
Appropriate self talk is also emphasized. Losing happens on a daily basis. BJJ is unique in that a loss is admitted to by tapping. Asking for, and showing mercy is part of the daily routine. Using a loss to improve performance involves not making excuses, and looking at alternative possibilities clearly. Saying “I can’t…” becomes “How can I…” and an “I have to…” becomes “What are my options from this point?” Students are taught to seek out small victories, and chain them together to produce bigger results.
Kids are encouraged, but not required to compete.
There will be plenty of opportunities to compete, and it’s important that everyone becomes confident that they can. Much like the adult class, competing is encouraged while acknowledging the necessity for a balanced life.
Children are a part of the overall culture.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is good for kids, but is not exclusively for kids. I purposely built the adult culture here first. Learning and improving is a lifelong pursuit, not a childhood memory. Parents who are able are encouraged to train and lead by example.