Top Ten Reasons to Teach Children Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Reason # 1 – Perseverance – aka Grit!
Talent – check! Intelligence – check! Ability – Check! These characteristics will sail your boat far and fast on smooth seas. But when the wind whips up and the seas get rough, it’s grit that will sail you home. What is grit? It’s the strength of character to persevere in hard times.
You can develop grit and BJJ can help. It forms when we work hard on something we find challenging. We establish a goal, make a plan and work to see it through. Then if we get lucky, we’ll fail on the road to success. In BJJ, we fail a lot. We fail while being encouraged without any negativity to persist until we don’t fail and then set the bar higher. If we do this consistently, we develop grit, and grit is more important to long term success than talent, intelligence or ability. Grit will power us through the rough seas in BJJ and in life.
Reason # 2 – Problem solving- American Top Team Families just experienced the effects of Hurricane Matthew. While none of us appreciate the havoc it caused, all of us recognized it could have been much worse had we not prepared in advance. While the hurricane was still days out, families assessed the potential problems and prepared solutions. No electricity? Buy batteries for the flashlights! Water contamination? Stock up on bottled water! May have to evacuate? Gas up the car. BJJ trains students to anticipate challenges and have a set of solutions ready to apply. What makes BJJ excellent training for problem solving is that in BJJ, the problems are always evolving. BJJ students train to solve ever changing problems against an opponent who is also a trained problem solver. And the BJJ student must learn to solve problems under the pressure of competition.
Reason #3 – Healthy Activity – Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a fun way to get kids moving! Every child plays – nobody sits on the bench. In BJJ training, a child’s muscles will develop naturally as they build cardio stamina. Research shows that physically active kids control their weight, develop strong bones, and sleep better. BJJ helps them develop healthy habits that will serve them well into their teen years and beyond.
Reason # 4 – Respect – BJJ promotes a culture of respect. Students bow before stepping on the mat which symbolizes respect for our BJJ lineage – our teacher’s teachers – those who came before us and helped in our training though we may never know them. At the end of class, students line up and shake their teacher’s hand and fellow students’ hands to thank them for a good class and show mutual respect. Even the youngest students are taught to model respect and courtesy.
Reason #5 – Brain Workout – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a brain workout. There are good reasons why BJJ is called “human chess.” Both activities require critical thinking and strategizing. Like chess, there are openings, middle games and end games to BJJ. Students learn to react to what’s happening while thinking 2-3 steps ahead. Students make a series of decisions and see the consequences of those decisions quickly and tangibly. BJJ can be so much fun that students don’t realize that they are also getting a rigorous brain workout.
Reason # 6 – Focus – BJJ is a great way for kids to develop focus! With BJJ, they learn to control their movements and channel their energy. Studies show that neural pathways are engaged and strengthened through repetition, making martial arts a great activity to develop body and mind. With consistent practice, children gain self-control and learn to focus.
Reason #7 – Self-Reliance – BJJ encourages self-reliance. Students train with teammates, but on the mats, it’s a one-on-one sport. BJJ students learn to rely on themselves to shoulder situations, make good decisions in the moment, and act with assurance. All highly successful people rely on themselves to make great things happen. BJJ is great training for future success.
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Reason #8 – Confidence – BJJ builds confidence. With confidence, we trust in ourselves and our abilities. Every time we take on a challenge with a positive attitude – training with a new, bigger or more skilled partner – we build confidence. Unshakeable confidence may be the single most important attribute in becoming successful. If we have confidence, we can visualize our own success story, then go out and make it happen. In BJJ, as in life, we may have setbacks, but if we focus confidently on our goals, we don’t let obstacles discourage us. Every technique mastered; every striped earned builds true confidence
Reason #9 – Bully-proofing. BJJ teaches kids how to avoid, diffuse and if absolutely necessary, and only if absolutely necessary, employ non-violent techniques to subdue an attacker. Bullying is a very real problem. One government study showed that 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied at school. First thing BJJ bully-proofing instruction covers is situational awareness, or put more simply, how to be attentive to what’s going on around you. BJJ develops a child’s confidence which counteracts bullying. Studies show that bullies select victims with self-esteem issues or are tend to be socially withdrawn. Kids with a confident manner are far less likely to become targets. BJJ classes provide a new circle of friends. BJJ teaches the importance of controlling our emotions and reactions to diffuse a situation. Finally, BJJ teaches techniques for controlling an aggressor.
Reason # 10 Spirit – Irrepressible Spirit – BJJ develops one’s ability to recover from misfortune without becoming defeated. We all encounter misfortune. Life knocks us to our knees sometimes. How we react in the moment is vital, but being able to bounce back is everything. BJJ trains us that when we try and fail; we analyze and try again. We make necessary adjustments and go at it again and again. We all fail. What sets winners apart from everyone else is that winners decide to learn from it, and get back up with heart.