Earlier this year, surfing legend Kelly Slater publicly shared his respect and love for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the value the sport can bring to a child (and adults) life. “I advise all parents to put their kids in Jiu Jitsu classes before any other sport.” Every child should be given the opportunity to enjoy a developmental environment when their growing; their minds are like sponges, ready to absorb all that surrounds them, what better environment to support their development than one promoting positivity, confidence, discipline, and many other developmental qualities and life skills. In this instalment we take a look at some of the rounded education BJJ can provide children (and adults!) and how the learnt techniques and skills of the gentle art extend far beyond the mat.
Stepping into any BJJ gym around the globe we see a broad diversity of students; the sport attracts people from all different demographics, educational backgrounds, professions, ages and sexes. We see younger students teaching older students, men teaching woman and women teaching men. The sport knows no prejudice. Everyone is there for the same common purpose – to enjoy a positive environment and improve their BJJ – everything else is irrelevant. In today’s world it is challenging to find a more balanced example of people working together undiversified – it’s a positive lesson of life provided to children training in the sport.
This unprejudiced environment encourages students to just be themselves within a safe and supportive forum, helping them build confidence in who they are and providing them with a path of their own which they can chose to develop more on both in terms of skills and as an individual. The self confidence and self esteem that naturally develop as their BJJ game improves through knowledge and practice, eventually transfers to life outside of BJJ as students start to realise that their abilities to overcome and conquer learnt on the mat are in fact part of their very being and can be applied to everyday life. Learning to be confident in who you are is a life learnt skill and one that often evolves only with age, children who train in the art at a young age learn this personal skill early on setting them up to enjoy a full life filled with a healthy the confidence they deserve.
BJJ teaches individuals the art of openly interacting with people. As a student begins their BJJ journey, they are immediately taught to verbally and physically interact with both their fellow students and masters, all of whom are there simply there to help each other on their journeys. Throughout the ongoing training in supportive surrounds where listening, interacting and engaging are all foundations of the art, BJJ skills begin to improve as do interpersonal skills naturally begin to develop. The bonds that are created within a BJJ community become so strong; the lifelong love for the sport develops into lifelong friendships.
None of these taught skills are possible without learning and applying a BJJ fundamental; discipline. All the benefits of combining discipline with training BJJ are obvious. The complexity of the sport takes time to understand and learn, requiring mental discipline to not give up, continue training without limitation and working towards being the best one can possibly be. This type of mental strength in discipline builds character in a person. The healthy addiction BJJ becomes requires discipline to maintain. Learning the value of discipline and commitment at a young age provides children with a respect for themselves and what is possible from hard work and dedication.
We’ve had a look at only some of the benefits BJJ brings to everyday life, of course there is also promoting a healthy lifestyle, learning respect for yourself/body and others, learning to defend yourself, the skills of adaptability; the list of benefits really is endless. The value the sport brings to any age group is clear however parents looking for an all-encompassing healthy habit to bring to their little ones lives cannot overlook BJJ. It is a well-rounded lifestyle choice that promotes only positivity. “I wish that I had grown up training Jiu Jitsu” – Kelly Slater