by Danny O’Donnell
In Jiu Jitsu Confidence: A Parent’s Guide to Raise Confident, Disciplined and Bully-Proof Children, author Nigel Kurtz asserts that jiu-jitsu is “the perfect vehicle to developing a child’s full human potential.” The book is a clear, concise guide on why jiu-jitsu is the perfect sport for children and how to help them get the most out of it. Parents will certainly get a lot of value from the book regardless of how long their child has been training. However, it would be best utilized if read upon enrolling your child at a jiu-jitsu academy, serving as a meaningful guide in this new world of martial arts. The book is divided into various sections that cover the top 10 reasons to train, how jiu-jitsu differs from team sports, the jiu-jitsu mind and lifestyle, competition, and parenting tips. The following paragraphs highlight some of the main concepts of the book, many of which are unique to the sport of jiu-jitsu.
While competition through all sports will aid in the development of children, jiu-jitsu has many unique benefits. In Jiu Jitsu Confidence, Nigel lists the top 10 reasons to learn jiu-jitsu and then goes into great depth with each. The first reason presented and one that really stood out is “Fail to Learn.” Because jiu-jitsu is often practiced against a fully resisting opponent, it is inevitable that a child will experience failure and likely experience it often. Even the greatest jiu-jitsu champions often remark how their early days of training were filled with failures, often getting beat by people with inferior physical capabilities. In the author’s words “Your child will fail at some point; it’s a given. How they recover from that and what they do with those lessons will set them apart.”
A second benefit that stood out in Jiu Jitsu Confidence is described as “Adulthood.” Children practicing jiu-jitsu will be exposed to adults from diverse backgrounds learning the same techniques and strategies as them. They will notice how some adults thrive while learning a new skill while others will complain and make excuses. Children will learn to identify the individuals with a positive approach to learning and have role models that can guide them throughout their journeys. Two other benefits, that often go hand in hand, are confidence and bully-proofing. Bullying is a big problem in today’s world, especially with the ability to bully on social media. Overcoming obstacles with jiu-jitsu will give a child the knowledge that they can successfully learn an employ a new skill. This increased confidence along with the technical abilities to subdue a potential physical threat will likely limit any instances of bullying.
Parents always want the best for their children in all aspects of life. Often when their child is playing a sport, they want to offer advice and encouragement. This is fantastic but must be done in the correct way if a child is to get the most out of jiu-jitsu. In one of the most important sections of the book, Nigel gives parents tips on how to guide your child on his or her journey in jiu-jitsu. One of these tips is to not put too much pressure on your child to win, either directly or indirectly. The focus should be on growth and improvement. This will give your child more satisfaction and reduce the rate of burnout. This goes along with another tip, which is how to properly goal set with children. While having goals to win tournaments or beat certain opponents are certainly acceptable, they are not entirely in one’s control. Nigel discusses the importance of performance goals, which often come in the form of executing a specific technique or strategy. These goals are easier to control and “put less emphasis on winning and more on growing their technical ability under pressure.”
In summary, Jiu Jitsu Confidence does a tremendous job outlining the benefits of jiu-jitsu for children. The most valuable aspect of the book, however, lies in the execution of how to guide children through the sport and introduce them to similarities between it and the challenges and accomplishments they will deal with all throughout their lives. One of the overarching themes throughout is that jiu-jitsu should be used as a vehicle to bring out the best in children and help mold them into the best people they are capable of becoming.
If you would like a more in depth discussion of these concepts and many more, you can purchase Jiu Jitsu Confidence: A Parent’s Guide to Raise Confident, Disciplined and Bully-Proof Children on Amazon at the link here.