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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has become a popular choice for adults to learn martial arts, particularly after witnessing many UFC fighters easily defeat their opponents using BJJ techniques.
At the same time, BJJ has also gained favor among parents as a top-choice martial art for their children. For this reason, if you do not know much about BJJ, you might wonder why so many parents think BJJ is good for kids, especially when it’s often associated with MMA fighters. Here’s the most important reason why:
Unlike most other martial arts, BJJ doesn’t include any striking, which causes most injuries, so the overall risks are low. Kids spend most of their time rolling on the ground in a controlled environment, and all the moves that increase the risks of injuries are left out of the learning syllabus.
If you’re looking for a martial art for your child, let me introduce you to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and explain its benefits for kids. After reading this article, you will definitely better understand why BJJ is good for kids, which will help you confidently decide if it is the right choice for your child.
What Does BJJ Teach?
BJJ is a grappling-based martial art developed in the 1920s in Brazil by the famous Gracie family. Its origins come from Judo, and these two martial arts share a lot in common, like uniforms and techniques. The key difference between BJJ and Judo is that BJJ focuses more on advanced submission grappling, while Judo emphasizes throwing techniques.
As a system, BJJ focuses on both standup grappling and ground fighting. In training, students learn how to advance to the ground from standing using throws, trips, and sweeps from Judo or wrestling. They practice how to manipulate the opponent’s uniform (gi) to secure a strong grip and get into a position to execute a takedown.
Once on the ground, the next goal is maneuvering into a dominant position and locking the opponent in. This further enables you to submit them with chokes or joint locks. At the same time, the opponent is trying to use escapes and various other techniques to reverse the position or finish the exchange from the inferior position.
So from a technical aspect, the learning curriculum in BJJ revolves around the following:
- Throws, trips, sweeps, and takedowns
- Positioning (guard, full mount, side control, back mount)
- Chokes (rear-naked choke, triangle choke, guillotine choke)
- Joint locks (armbar, kimura, kneebar)
Apart from advanced grappling techniques, when you grapple, you engage all the muscles in your body, which develops your practical strength and flexibility.
Rolling with the person your size on top of you also burns a lot of energy quickly, so your endurance is a big factor as well. As a result, students do various weight and bodyweight workouts to improve core muscles, and aerobic workouts such as running to enhance cardio capacity.
LEARN MORE: What are the different styles of Jiu-Jitsu?
What Makes BJJ the Best Martial Art for Kids?
Here is a list of key reasons why BJJ is among the best martial arts for kids.
Supportive and judgment-free environment
BJJ is rooted in honor and respect between students and instructors. Kids train in a positive and supportive atmosphere that allows them to express their personalities and talents. Instead of judging bad behavior or performance, each training group acts like one unit. Your child will join a supportive BJJ team that encourages each other to overcome challenges together.
Low risk of injuries
BJJ is primarily recognized as one of the safest martial arts due to its low injury rate, as listed below. The system doesn’t include striking with your hands and legs, which are the most common cause of injuries.
Injury Rate per 1000 Athlete-Exposures:
(2022, April 4). In Bjj Eastern Europe.
- MMA : 236-286
- Taekwondo: 20.5-139.5
- Judo : 25.3-130.6
- Wrestling : 9.0-30.7
- BJJ : 9.2
On top of that, the emphasis is on technique and leverage, not on overwhelming the attacker with sheer strength and explosive attacks. Kids’ classes are particularly designed to be as safe as possible. Many moves that could cause injuries are left out of the learning syllabus.
Coordination and balance
Grappling, often upside down, requires high coordination of upper and lower body movements and the constant usage of both sides of the brain. Legs, arms, head, shoulders, everything has to work as one unit, and you need high body awareness in order to perform right. In the long run, BJJ will improve kids’ motor skills and bilateral and hand-eye coordination skills.
Fun and playful
Unlike many adults, children are not too obsessed with competition, money, and becoming a global superstar. The only thing their minds care about is how much fun they are going to have. And grappling with other kids in a controlled environment is as playful as it gets. But this time, there are no parents to bother them to stop. All kids love to grapple; it’s their favorite activity.
Effective self-defense system
BJJ falls into the group of the most effective combat systems. It works well in most scenarios you may encounter in real life and matches well against other styles. BJJ students don’t spend a second doing things that won’t enhance their abilities in a real fight. Just look how important and dominant it is in the world of MMA fighting.
And above all, BJJ teaches you how to neutralize the attacker without causing any serious injuries. Taking the opponent down and subduing them with holds and pins is much safer than knocking the attacker out cold.
RELATED: Is Taekwondo Good for Kids?
The Mental Benefits of BJJ for Children.
Although BJJ training is known for its physical fitness and health benefits, it’s important to recognize the following mental benefits for children that come with it:
Self-discipline and focus
Discipline and focus need to be trained just as the muscles. In a world where ADHD and other attention disorders are affecting more and more children, maintaining a high level of discipline and focus has become challenging.
In BJJ training, kids must always pay attention to instructors and be disciplined. They have little space for their minds to wander around while training. Each second of training is spent on productive work. Improvement in discipline and focus will positively affect every aspect of their lives. This is notably true regarding their ability to socialize, maintain relationships, and perform better at school.
BJJ training groups include between 10 and 20 kids working together as one family. During the class, kids play together and talk with each other, and over time, this results in strong friendships. They also learn how to respect authority and older people in general, listen, and obey commands.
Even if the kid is an introvert, a supportive and positive BJJ environment will eventually open their hearts and minds to other people.
BJJ boosts confidence like nothing else. Training is hard, and students constantly push their minds and bodies near and over the limits. And pushing the bar higher and overcoming adversities is how they boost confidence and mental resistance.
Every student will hit a breaking point multiple times on their journey. But each time, they must find the inner strength to continue, and this is what builds character. They also learn legitimate self-defense techniques and how to apply them in real scenarios in sparring, which gives them real confidence in their abilities.
Self-defense and bullying
BJJ is a system rooted in self-defense. It teaches legitimate martial arts skills you can apply in any self-defense scenario. Besides learning proper form, kids also learn how to apply these techniques against their partners in controlled sparring.
By learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, children can enhance their ability to defend themselves and develop a better mindset when dealing with bullies. BJJ instructors do not promote violence but instead teach children how to use BJJ solely for self-defense purposes and to avoid violent situations.
How to Find the Best BJJ School for Kids
As a parent, it is your responsibility to research and find a proper BJJ school for your child. Following is a list of tips and factors you need to take into consideration to find the right one.
Ask for a free trial class and observe
Most BJJ academies include a trial class where you and your child can participate without costs. The kid will attend a real class while a parent can observe the action and tour the facility.
Even if you don’t attend a trial class (and you should), be sure to check every corner of the gym. Inspect whether the gym maintains a high level of hygiene on the grappling mats, dressing room, and bathroom area. This is crucial as infections are the most common “injury” in BJJ. And this also speaks a lot about how the gym treats its students. Health and safety should always be the number one priority.
Talk to other parents
When you attend the class, some parents will likely be there. Be sure to ask them everything you want to know about the classes, their experience with the coaches, and how their kid likes it. They will give you some valuable inside information about the academy, where you can buy affordable gear and maybe bust some of the myths.
Watch other kids
During the trial class, be sure to observe other kids who have been training for some time. Watch how disciplined and focused they are, do they respect authority and obey commands, and how they react to certain things. Their behavior is a good indicator of how effective the teaching methods are and how well the instructor keeps it all together.
Talk with the head instructor
Before signing your child up for the classes, have a talk with the head instructor. Ask them about costs, safety, training programs, gym success, and credentials. You will put your child’s life in their hands, so you have the moral right to get every piece of information from them.
Remember, there are no stupid questions. And most BJJ instructors are super friendly people who are more than happy to address your concerns.
Go online and search for local reviews. While it’s important to keep in mind that reviews should not be taken too seriously, they can provide a general idea of how the gym functions and its advantages and disadvantages.
You may also visit websites other than “Google reviews,” such as “Better Business Bureau,” to get additional information. Also, ask your friends if they know someone whose child trains there. In martial arts, the importance of word-of-mouth marketing cannot be overstated.
You do not have to sign up with a well-known coaches
People tend to value the quality of a service based on how much it costs. The more expensive it is, the better. But this doesn’t have to be the case when it comes to kids training in BJJ. Classes in the top-rated facility where kids train under famous coaches are expensive.
When children are starting to learn BJJ, there is no need to spend a lot of money on a well-known coach. Other coaches who may be less famous can still provide the same quality of teaching at a much lower cost. Any certified BJJ black belt that offers kids programs has solid skills to teach the fundamentals.
Do not sign long-term contracts
Most BJJ academies offer different membership deals and even long-term contracts. Although annual deals come at a lower cost, sticking with the monthly membership at the start is recommended. Your child has yet to discover whether BJJ is for them, so there is no need to spend too much money on annual membership plans. In the end, you can always transition from a monthly to an annual plan later.
At What Age Can Children Start BJJ (as recommended)?
The majority of BJJ children’s programs accept 3-year-old kids. However, kids at 3 or 4 years of age still lack the physicality and motor skills to engage in jiu-jitsu, so waiting until they are 5 or 6 years old is recommended. Most kids under 4 are not disciplined enough and tend to give up quickly.
Most parents choose to sign up their kids for the classes when they are in the first grade, and there is a good reason why. School teaches students discipline, following instructions, respecting their teachers, and being independent. Similarly, BJJ instructors reinforce these values to help kids improve in school.
How Many Times a Week Should a Child Take Lessons?
Kids should kick off their journey by attending classes no less than 3 times a week. 2 times a week is also fine if they feel tired and have a hard time recovering from the classes. But after two or three weeks, they should move to 3 times a week. Why no less than 3, you may ask?
Though the kid’s classes are structured to be less intense, BJJ remains a highly complex system. Each student must be consistent, especially in the beginning, to enjoy consistent progress and keep up with the classes. Just a small break of 2 weeks can greatly stall their progress.
The kids will then naturally increase the number of weekly training sessions as they get stronger, better at performing techniques, and more engaged in BJJ. But for the start, 3 times a week would be fine.
How Much Does BJJ Cost for Kids?
The monthly fees usually range between $120 and $200 in countries like the US. But bear in mind that the exact figure is based on the location, the experience and reputation of the coaches, the power of the brand, and many other factors.
In some countries with lower economic standards, the classes at the premiere academy could cost as low as $50 per month. In the more developed world, on the other hand, the prices go up to a couple of hundred. Overall, kid classes usually cost less than adults.
RELATED: Why Are BJJ Classes So Expensive?
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the most popular martial arts for kids, and there is a good reason why. Above all, training is much safer than in other combat systems as BJJ doesn’t include striking. It is also more playful and fun and works better in real-life situations. Finding the right school is also not an issue; every certified BJJ instructor can teach kids classes just as well as any other famous instructor.
But as a parent, thoroughly examine the facility, have conversations with instructors/owners and other parents, and obtain all necessary information before making a decision. Once that’s done, if your kid is interested in classes, try BJJ; you won’t regret it, that’s for sure.