How to Get the Most out of Kids BJJ

Jan 26, 2023Jiu-Jitsu

The Benefits of Kid’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Training

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a grappling-based martial art that focuses on using leverage and proper technique to control an opponent. It has exploded in popularity over the last few decades, with gyms popping up all over the world. Jiu-jitsu is an excellent form of self-defence and exercise for both kids and adults. Some of the main benefits of getting your kids started in Brazilian jiu-jitsu include:

Self-Defense Skills

One of the primary reasons parents enrol their kids in jiu-jitsu is for self-defence. Jiu-jitsu teaches kids how to control and submit larger, stronger opponents. This allows smaller kids to defend themselves against bullies or abusers. Kids also learn situational awareness and how to avoid confrontations.

Discipline and Respect

Jiu-jitsu requires discipline to learn proper technique and drilling. Kids must also show respect to coaches and training partners. This instils discipline and respect at an early age. Jiu-jitsu provides a structure with belt rankings and clear expectations.

Fitness and Coordination

Jiu-jitsu is a great workout for kids. The constant motion and drilling builds cardiovascular fitness. The grappling improves coordination, especially proprioception (awareness of body position). Jiu-jitsu is a fun way for kids to stay active and healthy.

Confidence

As kids improve at jiu-jitsu they gain tremendous confidence in their abilities. Being able to control larger training partners gives smaller kids a sense of empowerment. This confidence boost carries over to school, sports, and social situations.

Focus and Mental Toughness

The challenges of jiu jitsu force kids to concentrate and push through adversity. Jiu-jitsu develops grit and mental toughness. Kids learn that they can achieve their goals on the mats with dedication and hard work. This mindset transfers to other areas of life.

How Can Young Kids Start Jiu-Jitsu?

Many parents wonder how young is too young for kids to begin training Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The typical age range is 5-7 years old, but some kids start as young as 3 or 4. Here are some factors to consider when deciding the right age:

Individual Child’s Temperament

Kids mature at different rates – some are ready for structured classes at age 4, while others may not be ready until 6 or 7. Observe your child’s behaviour and determine if they can focus and follow instructions for 30-45 minutes at a stretch. Skittish or easily distracted kids may need to wait until they’re a bit older.

Instructor Experience with Kids

Find an instructor who is used to working with very young kids. Not all jiu-jitsu coaches specialize in teaching toddlers or preschoolers. Kids require a different teaching approach compared to adults. Ensure the instructor can hold young kids’ attention and understand age-appropriate training methods. At Apex MMA, we make sure all our kid’s instructors undergo our kid’s BJJ coaching course before starting.

Class Structure and Environment

Look for kids classes with engaging structure and a fun, welcoming environment. Classes solely focused on drilling techniques could bore young kids. There should be games, challenges, and activities to keep them entertained. Avoid hardcore, competitive kids classes for very young beginners. At Apex MMA, we always look to make our classes fun and engaging while still teaching the art and skills of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Safety Precautions

Proper safety precautions, such as no chokeholds for little kids, should be in place. Mats and gym area should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Instructors should watch for size mis-matches that could lead to injuries. Accidents can happen, but risks should be minimized. At Apex MMA, safety is our number one priority when teaching kids Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Listen to your instincts on whether your child is ready. You can always try a trial class and see how they respond. If it’s not working, take a break for several months and try again when they’re a bit older. The right age varies for every child.

Setting Realistic Expectations

It’s important for parents to have realistic expectations when enrolling their kids in jiu-jitsu lessons. Every child learns at a different pace, so avoid pushing too hard or having unrealistic goals. Kids should primarily be having fun and developing a passion for training. With the right mindset, they will improve over time. Here are some reasonable expectations to set:

Focus on Enjoyment Over Achievement

Don’t worry about how many stripes or belts they earn. Those will come in time. Prioritize their enjoyment of classes and developing a love for jiu-jitsu. If they associate training with fun, improvement will follow.

Progress Occurs in Fits and Starts

Plateaus will follow bursts of improvement. Learning is nonlinear. Don’t expect constant progression each class. Allow kids to learn at their own pace without pressure.

Let the Instructor Coach

Avoid backseat coaching and trust the instructor. They have experience teaching kids jiu-jitsu. Too many conflicting voices may confuse kids. Let the instructor provide feedback and instruction.

Peer Comparison is Pointless

No two kids learn the same. Avoid comparing your child’s progress to others. This creates unhealthy competition. The only comparison that matters is today vs. their skills levels months ago.

Focus on Effort Over Outcome

Praise hard work and determination, not just match results. Losing is part of learning. Emphasize giving maximum effort and having fun regardless of wins or losses. This mentality will serve them well.

With a supportive, pressure-free environment, kids can thrive in jiu-jitsu. Learning and improving takes patience. Keep expectations realistic, emphasize enjoyment, and let kids develop at their own pace.

How Hard Should You Push Your Child?

It’s natural for parents to want their kids to succeed at jiu-jitsu. However, be cautious not to push too hard or force them to train. This can backfire by making kids resent jiu-jitsu. They may get burned out and quit. Here are some tips on encouraging kids without pushing too hard:

Make It Their Choice

Kids should decide to start jiu-jitsu, not be forced into it. Discuss the benefits and see if they want to try it out. Never mandate they train if they don’t enjoy it. That destroys intrinsic motivation.

Emphasize Fun and Learning

Remind kids that jiu-jitsu is first and foremost, about having fun and constantly improving. De-emphasize competition and rankings. Praise effort and persistence above all else.

Allow Time Off

Listen if kids say they need a break from training or want to skip a session. Avoid guilt-tripping or lecturing. It’s better they take time off and come back eager to train, rather than burn out.

Don’t Critique Every Mistake

Resist the urge to criticize every minor mistake in training. Offer occasional constructive tips, but let the coach provide most of the instruction. Over-coaching can drain kids’ confidence.

Never Use Jiu Jitsu as Punishment

For example, forcing kids to do extra drills because of bad grades or behaviour. This leads to negative associations. Jiu-jitsu should always be seen as a reward, not a punishment.

The key is making jiu-jitsu an enjoyable, voluntary activity. Gently encourage persistence through challenges while letting kids go at their own pace. With this balance, they will develop a lifelong passion for training.

Helping Kids Overcome Fears and Anxiety

It’s common for some kids to feel anxious or afraid when starting jiu-jitsu. They may get intimidated grappling with larger partners or nervous about sparring. Here’s how parents can help kids overcome fears and anxiety on the mats:

Emphasize Courage Over Comfort

Explain that courage means feeling scared but doing it anyway. Discomfort is part of learning. Avoid rescuing them from normal anxiety. Help them embrace the growth opportunity.

Praise Small Acts of Courage

Notice times when they push past fear, no matter how small. Praise courageous behaviours, not just results. This boosts self-efficacy and willingness to take risks.

Remind Them Everyone Struggles

Reassure them everyone feels scared as a beginner. Fears are typical and expected. Share your own struggles learning jiu-jitsu to normalize it.

Focus on Progress Over Perfection

Perfection is unrealistic but progress should be celebrated. Small wins each session, like trying a new move or surviving a bit longer in a submission, make a big difference over time.

Model Bravery and Grit

Kids notice your attitude about challenges. Model bravery in your own life. Talk about times you felt afraid but persevered. Your resilience will inspire kids.

With empathy, encouragement, and patience, kids can overcome anxiety. Don’t accommodate fears by allowing them to quit. Supportively push kids a little past their comfort zone so they gain confidence. Jiu-jitsu is a journey of conquering doubts and believing in yourself. Help kids embrace the path.

How to Make Jiu-Jitsu Fun for Kids

While jiu-jitsu takes hard work and discipline, it should also be fun, especially for kids. If it feels like a chore, kids may quickly burn out. Coaches and parents must foster enjoyment of jiu-jitsu. At Apex MMA we are always looking to make training the martial arts as fun as possible. Here are some tips:

Incorporate Games

Games related to techniques make training more playful. Occasionally let kids do shrimp races, king of the mat, or other games as rewards. This maintains an element of play.

Encourage Socializing

Allow kids to chat and joke around during water breaks. Friendships enhance the fun and comradery of jiu-jitsu. Avoid an overly stern, joyless environment.

Theme Days and Challenges

Special events like “superhero training day” or seeing who can do the most forward rolls inject excitement. Friendly team challenges keep things lively.

Focus on Flow Rolling

Early on, avoid hardcore sparring. Flow rolling allows kids to move and experiment without pressure. Sparring should be playful.

Praise Effort Over Outcomes

Recognize hard work and persistence above wins and losses. Have fun “brag boards” for kids to share skills and drills mastered. Celebrate small achievements.

Engage Parents

We get parents involved in activities like jiu-jitsu picnics and belt ceremonies. This fosters community and pride in advancement.

Remember, jiu-jitsu should prepare kids for life, not overwhelm it. Keep training joyful, engaging and rewarding. Kids who have fun will beg to come to class!

How to Keep Your Child Motivated in Jiu Jitsu

All kids will face moments when their motivation for jiu-jitsu wanes. Lack of progress, injuries, or boredom can sap enthusiasm. Here are some tips to reignite their passion:

Highlight Benefits

Remind them of all the benefits they get from jiu-jitsu that go beyond rank advancement- fitness, self-defense, fun, friends, etc.

Take a Break

If burned out, a few weeks off can restore motivation. Kids return recharged and excited. Avoid criticism or guilt about missed classes.

Focus on Small Milestones

Celebrate each stripe earned versus dwelling on belts. Praise hitting short-term goals like first submission or sweep. Small wins maintain momentum.

Attain Quick Successes

Have them drill moves they find easiest and can successfully perform. Quick successes rebuild confidence and enjoyment.

Add Variety

Try out no-gi, MMA classes, or cross-training another martial art like Muay Thai. A fresh setting provides a spark.

Make It Social

Organize play dates with teammates outside the gym. Social bonds strengthen their commitment to the team.

Persistence through motivational ups and downs is part of jiu-jitsu. Guide kids through these peaks and valleys by focusing on the positives. With the right support, their passion will be rekindled.

Getting Your Kids Started in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian jiu-jitsu offers tremendous benefits for kids of all ages. The self-defence skills, character development, and confidence gained from training can be life-changing. With the right school, reasonable expectations from parents, and an emphasis on fun, kids will thrive in jiu-jitsu. They may face challenges and anxieties, but with supportive encouragement, these become growth opportunities. Jiu-jitsu ultimately provides kids with empowering skills for the rest of their lives.

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Team Apex MMA Martial Arts Coach
Apex MMA is a specialist mixed martial arts gym focusing on Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Led by an experienced team of instructors, Apex MMA offers comprehensive training programs for students of all ages and skill levels. With Apex MMA's systematic teaching methods, passion for martial arts, and strong community relationships, you will gain the tools to succeed in the gym and beyond.
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