When should kids start practicing jiu-jitsu

When should kids start practicing jiu-jitsu

1.What is Jiu-jitsu?

Jiu-jitsu is a form of martial art and is a complex sport that focuses on ground fighting. It is the most effective self-defense-oriented combat art. It does not matter how strong you are to fight. If you are physically weak but have more experience in self-defense, then you can easily defeat your opponent.

1.1. Who Can Start BJJ Training?

To begin BJJ training, you don’t need any special equipment., which makes it appropriate for people of all ages. One of the best things about jiu-jitsu is that it is not age-specific. As long as you have passion and devotion, no one can stop you. There are no age limitations, it doesn’t matter whether you are young, a kid, or old, you can practice it. That’s why it is gaining worldwide popularity.

2. Effect of Jiu-Jitsu on Developmental Phases of Kids:

Every child develops at a different rate. Some of the children grow faster, while others take a longer time. Some kids start showing an interest in martial arts at 3 years of age.

There are four basic developmental phases.

2.1. Physical Progress

During this phase, your child undergoes the following developmental changes.

  • During this phase, the heart is strengthened and the circulatory function is improved.
  • Flexibility is increased.
  • Blood pressure stabilizes.
  • Musculoskeletal system strengthens
  • Body awareness and coordination are improved.

2.2. Mental Development

During this phase, the child develops the following attributes.

  • Improved discipline
  • Improved focus
  • Enhanced confidence level
  • Resilience
  • Perseverance
  • Determination
  • Improved memory.

2.3. Emotional Growth

During this phase:

  • Kids learn to control their emotions.
  • They develop a strong emotional bond with loved ones.

2.4. Spiritual Growth

  • Jiu-jitsu is a form of meditation, so it relaxes the mind.
  • Jiu-jitsu spiritually connects your child's soul and mind to a Divine being.

3. What is the Most Suitable Age for Kids to Practice Jiu-Jitsu?

Many parents are worried about the age at which they introduce their kids to martial arts. Every parent's opinion is different. Some parents think that they should enroll their child as soon as possible in martial arts schools, while others feel reluctant as it involves some physical practice.

What is the Most Suitable Age for Kids to Practice Jiu-Jitsu?
Photo credit: @linkedin

There is no specific answer to this question. It depends on the kid's ability to learn and grow, as well as other external factors. At the age of 4, the kid can start their BJJ training, but training at such an early age may cause the child to dislike the sport. According to most experts, a child of 5–6 years is ready to start their training.

4. Expert Reviews

Hernani Caroco, a well-known psychologist, graduated from the (Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada) in 2008 and had interacted with many children of different ages. According to him, these types of activities promote physical growth and have a positive impact on kids’ mental states. They learn to control their anger and their behavior changes. Learning jiu-jitsu teaches them how they can express their emotions in a healthy way.

“Baring exception to certain impairments, specific to each case, we can say that at 5-6 years of age a child is prepared to take part in martial arts classes, however, competition should be introduced at a later stage, from 8 to 10. Not only will an 8-10-year-old child have the maturity to deal with the frustration of defeat, but they will also be more predisposed to following the rules set for each specific game, this way receiving supplementary self-fulfillment from the activity.”

(Hernani Caroço)

 5. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Age Division

Different Jiu-Jitsu schools teach children of different ages. They are enrolled in separate classes based on their age group. Each group is taught combat art through different teaching methods.

The different age groups are:

  • 5-7-year-old Kids

This is the minimum age at which a child can be enrolled in a jiu-jitsu school. At this stage, children are a blank canvas having absolutely no knowledge about the game. Mostly, they are given skill-based training just for 30 minutes, as this is the maximum focus time for most children.  Any longer than that and the children lose interest. J

Jiu-Jitsu training leaves several positive effects on children. For example, it enhances their learning and listening abilities. They also learn to follow the rules and regulations and grow up to be sensible and disciplined adults.

  • 8-12-year-old Kids

 Children aged 8 to12 years are grouped into one class. These students do have little knowledge about the rules of Jiu-Jitsu. Therefore, physical training begins at this age. These kids compete in different small competitions. Mostly, their classes last for 45–60 minutes.

  • 13–16-year-old Kids

Students falling into this age bracket are not kids anymore. As teenagers, they are physically and mentally stronger. Their training involves understanding and following the mentor’s instructions during the training lessons.   At this stage, mentors work with students to help them figure out their individual strengths and develop them further. Students in this age group also get an opportunity to compete at multiple local and international level juvenile competitions.

  • 17+ Age Group

These age group students are mature and are trained as adults. They have longer training sessions as they have more ability to absorb the techniques.

5.1. Mixed Age Group

Many Jiu-Jitsu academies offer training for various age groups, but if these specific age group classes are not available, you can join a mixed age group class. This includes the class of 4-12-year-old kids. Although there is a significant age gap, it can still be effective.

The kids in the older age group have more experience and they motivate the younger students. Most of the kids consider the older students as role models and try to do their best.

6. Children’s Belt Ranking System

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has its own unique belt promotion system. These belts are given to motivate students to further improve their skills and ascend to the next belt levels. The belt promotion system for children is lengthy, with only five different colors of prominent belts.

  • White
  • Grey
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Green

The belt system for kids is quite complex, as it consists of many colored strips. Between the ages of 4 and 15, a child can have up to 13 belts.

6.1. Why is the BJJ Belt System for Children Different from Adults?

The BJJ belt system for children is different from adults because of the following reasons

  • As the kids can’t focus for longer times, their classes are mostly short. In this short time, they can only learn the basic moves.
  • They cannot be compared with the adults as the adults have different training sessions.
  • Receiving different belts at an early age gives them a chance to represent their skills when they become an adult.
  • If the kids are not awarded the appreciation belts they may lose interest in martial arts and they may quit.

7. How to Know Whether Your Child is Ready for Jiu-Jitsu Training?

Every child has unique physical, mental, and emotional attributes. How can you recognize that your child is ready for Jiu-Jitsu learning?

There are certain factors that you must keep in mind before enrolling them in jiu-jitsu schools.

  • Do They Have Effective Communication Skills?

You should know whether your child is capable of approaching the instructor. As the class has several students and most of the time there is one instructor, they should be confident that they can communicate properly with their instructor.

  • Is it Possible for Them to Go to the Bathroom on Their Own?

At a very early age, the children can't go to the bathroom on their own, but with time, they begin to learn. If your child can use the bathroom with supervision, then he is ready to be enrolled.

  • Do they Show Interest in Sports?

If your child exhibits an interest in a particular sport, it shows that they are ready to start their initial classes. After he takes a couple of classes it will become evident to you and your child whether he/she likes the sport.

  • Can They Focus on Something for Some Time?

 If your kid is showing an interest in sports and can focus on it for more than a few minutes, it indicates that your kid can concentrate effectively.

  • Is it Possible for Them to Follow the Rules?

Your child must have the ability to obey; it is very important in Jiu-Jitsu. If your child obeys your rules, then he/she will also follow the rules of the instructor.

8. Things to Note for Parents

As parents, if you want your kids to pursue their careers in jiu-jitsu, then there are certain things that you should always keep in mind.

  • Medical Evaluation 

Before sending your child to a BJJ class consult a medical practitioner for an elaborate medical evaluation of your child’s physical health. Perform all the necessary health tests to ensure that the children are in good health. Schedule weekly and monthly follow-up checks once your child begins his training.

  • Search for a Skilled Instructor

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to search for the best academies. Make sure the instructor is well trained because it is the beginning of your child's life. If your children have a strong foundation, they will learn more quickly.

  • Expecting too Much from Your Child is a Recipe for Trouble

Never expect your kids to perform like adults. It will take a little while, as they have just begun their BJJ journey. It will take a lot of time to learn and practise Jiu-Jitsu. With time, their abilities will begin to improve.

  • Be Consistent

Always encourage your kids to attend BJJ school regularly. Don’t worry if your child is upset at first; it will be okay with time.

  • Don’t Pressurise Your Kids

Always support and motivate your kids. Your motivation will encourage them to work harder. When you pressurize them, they will start taking their classes as a burden, and eventually, they will lose interest.

9. Conclusion

There is as such no specific age for enrolling your child in intro Jiu-Jitsu school, nevertheless, if you think that your child is confident and passionate about jiu-jitsu then you should consider enrolling your kid. If you believe your kid is not ready yet then wait until he/she is 7-8 years old. It will improve the development and you will be amazed.

Photo credit: @mcmahonbjj

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