Parents often sign their kids up for Brazilian jiu-jitsu because of bullying problems at school, and while this is certainly a great reason to get your children to start BJJ, there are many other ways this martial art can benefit kids of all ages. Whether your kid is six or sixteen, here are some other great ways that jiu-jitsu can improve their lives:
1. It develops a healthy (and fun) exercise habit.
Many kids only get exercise through gym class at school, and let’s be honest — running around a track and going straight to class afterward is not exactly a fun way to get the heart pumping. After-school sports can be fun, but many kids don’t want to spend more time physically at the school when they’ve already been there all day. Jiu-jitsu can solve these issues by offering a change of environment and a fun, interactive outlet for energy. And because BJJ can be continued as an adult (even at the same gym!), your child won’t have to worry about “outgrowing” the sport that they love — they can continue training and competing long beyond their high school years. Jiu-jitsu can teach your kids that exercise and movement isn’t just healthy, but also fun and maintainable.
2. It teaches kids how to lead and follow.
Your child doesn’t need to be the captain of a team to develop good leadership skills through sports. As jiu-jitsu practitioners progress, they learn to help new students who may need support, whether technical or emotional. If they stick with it as they grow up, they can also eventually become assistant coaches… or maybe even open their own gym one day.
Jiu-jitsu doesn’t just teach good leadership skills, though — it also teaches great listening skills and discipline. Your kids will have good role models in their coaches, and they’ll quickly learn how frustrating it is to not understand a technique or fall behind because they aren’t paying attention.
3. It’s a healthy outlet for aggression.
Jiu-jitsu has a number of mental health benefits, and one of them is how it serves as a way for practitioners to let out their natural aggression in a safe and controlled environment. Many children (and adults, for that matter) struggle to process difficult emotions, and this can manifest as pent-up aggression that gets let out at inopportune times and in unsafe ways. Jiu-jitsu gives kids a way to let out that energy in a healthier manner. Whether they’re dealing with problems at home (such as their parents’ divorce) or frustrations at school, the focus and physical effort that BJJ requires can provide an outlet, reducing the chances that they’ll take out their frustration on their classmates, siblings, or themselves.
4. It’s a highly social activity.
Even if your child has trouble making friends at school, they may find that they struggle less with social interactions in jiu-jitsu. BJJ is, by nature, a physical sport that requires a lot of close contact and trust between teammates. Kids who train jiu-jitsu interact with other children from a variety of backgrounds and identities, so even if they’ve fit into a certain clique at school, they can truly be themselves on the mats while learning to work with other kids who are very different from themselves.
5. It gives them a challenge to work for and victories to be proud of.
Every jiu-jitsu class will present your child with a new set of obstacles and accomplishments. It takes years — often over a decade — for BJJ students to receive their black belts, and once you try jiu-jitsu, it’s easy to see why. This martial art is a challenge to learn, but with rewarding results. Natural-born athletes and bookworms alike will experience their fair share of frustrations, but also feel the thrill of finally landing a tough submission on a teammate or tournament opponent. Best of all, jiu-jitsu is highly adaptable, so even if your child has a disability, they can still get a lot out of the sport. Plus, your child can test their skills in competitions if they want to… or, they can choose to continue as a hobbyist, content with working hard in the gym.
The self-defense aspect of jiu-jitsu is great for kids, teens, and adults alike. But if you simply want your kid to grow up to be a healthier, happier adult, BJJ is great for that as well.