It’s very exciting when our children begin their martial arts journey. This is especially true of Jiu-Jitsu. When our little ones don their gi (uniform) and walk on the mat and face all these new challenges we can sense our own blood swirl with excitement and we almost feel our own limbs wanting to move for them. How could we not be excited? Our precious little one is now training to be a warrior!
If you have ever put on a gi yourself and walked into a Jiu-Jitsu class you know the mix of excitement, nervousness and fear that comes with starting BJJ. It’s not an easy path for anyone…. especially a young child. But the value of learning to effectively defend yourself (physically and mentally), becoming self-reliant, an expert problem solver, developing true inner confidence and peace is worth it! Our world is getting more challenging, complicated and violent than ever before. As adults we want to give our children the ability to happily and successfully navigate this new frontier. So when you begin to look at Jiu-Jitsu as a practice for your child you want to think about it as a long term commitment not a short term hobby. Now this doesn’t mean that Jiu-Jitsu has to be seven days per week. That’s not a sustainable practice for anyone. For most kids 2-4 consistent days per is perfect. (never more than 6 days per week) Remember, it’s about a sustainable practice that outlives the present moment. We want them training when they’re six… but we REALLY want them to be still training when they’re 16 and they really need it.
Negative Effects on Coaching during class:
Children often refer to what their parent says which can be different from what the instructor might recommend. It causes confusion with soo many voices. Although we may think we’re doing the best thing by coaching over the coach during class it actually has the complete opposite effect.When you coach your child it:
Censures their problem solving skills
Denounces their decision making abilities
Reduces their limitless creativity
Increases completely unnecessary pressure
Your child will not learn from their own mistakes
Decreases their natural coping skills
Increases stress and anxiety
Prevents your child from mastering life skills
Minimizes their autonomy
How to coach your child
The best coaching is a smile, hug or a thumbs up! If a parent yells instructions to a child from across the room it creates a very distressing environment for both children. When we grapple in Jiu-Jitsu our body will very easily go into a “fight or flight” response. This is true of adults, but especially children. Our brain doesn’t fully develop until 25 years old. For a child hearing their parent yelling instructions or worse the other child whose being coached against, it can create serious stress and raise cortisol levels which is not healthy or safe. In Jiu-Jitsu the most important lessons needs to learned through personal experience. When you grapple it’s a constant game of problem solving and decision making. It’s especially powerful because you are alone and have to face each lesson. This develops an amazing sense of confidence and self-reliance. No one can do it for you… how powerful is that!
If we try to do all of the problem solving for them…. they never learn the lesson, and worse it stunts their decision making ability. As a parent it’s hard to not want to yell instructions… after all they are our babies and we want the best for them! But truly the best for them is to allow them to spread their wings and fully experience it for themselves.
In addition to Jiu-Jitsu my own children also take dance lessons. I’ve never danced before in my life (at least not very well lol). We generally watch the first 10 minutes then we leave and come back for the last 10 minutes. We don’t hover or coach… we allow dance to be their experience. By the way why would I coach… I know nothing about dance. I trust in the coaches and allow them to be the experts. When we leave we ask our children, how was dance? Is there anything you want to share? We don’t offer dance tips and tell them what they should have been doing right or wrong. Again, we are not the experts so we allow them to fully enjoy the experience with no additional stress from us. (Two hours of dance is already hard enough) If your child has something that happened in class that they want to share… then they will share it. Encourage don’t criticize. Jiu-Jitsu is tough enough on its own. Keep your words positive and allow this to be a fun, life affirming experience that they can grow from.
Tips for parents:
Focus on the benefits.
We’re not trying to make them the best at exercising. It’s okay if their push ups aren’t spectacular.
Interact and find support with other parents.
Don’t criticize your child.
Don’t show signs of stress.
Let them have fun.
Don’t yell advice to your child in class.
A smile or thumbs up goes a long way. When you look happy and calm they will play off your emotional state.
When they come over for a drink of water give them a quick hug or high five and some encouraging words. “You’re so brave!” “I’m so proud of you!” “You inspire me!” “You can do this. . . great job!”
They’re not perfect. They are little undeveloped brains trying to figure this all out. A good rule of thumb is that kids have about 5 minutes of focus for every year that they have lived. So a typical 5 year old is good for about 20-25 minutes. Expect that they’ll need a drink and a quick hug about every 20 minutes. For the younger kids expect that they’ll fidget, lose focus, need hugs, pick their nose and do a host of things that you won’t always like. Remind yourself… it’s all normal!
It’s always about creating a sustainable practice. Remember, we want them to still be doing this when they’re a young adult and they’ll really use these tools. No pressure, keep it fun and they’ll be doing it forever!
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Join in on the conversation! Leave us a comment with your experience. Share any advice you might have or lessons you’ve learned along the way.
As we move into our Spring semester at Flo Life BJJ we are excited to announce some new schedule updates. Two days per week will be adding a specialized “Spider Ninjas” class for ages 4 – 7 years. This will help us provide the perfect details, drills, physical and mental exercises for each specific age group.
Although training in any style of Martial Arts may be beneficial Jiu-Jitsu is by far the best. This advice is of course coming from a lifelong Martial Artist that has experienced multiple types of training throughout the years. So what led to this ultimate declaration and why does it matter? Finding Truth in any facet of life is emancipating and transformative and something to gift back so that hopefully someone else will get to gain from the many lessons it took to receive this knowledge.
1.) Self Defense . . . without having to punch or kick
It’s not that Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t incorporate and utilize striking, it just does it in the most efficient, logical way possible. By using open palm strikes we greatly minimize the risk of damage to our fragile hand bones. And more importantly Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t rely on strikes alone. They are in addition to, used sparingly and to get to an end point – the submission via a joint lock or choke. There are varying degrees to which you can choose to defend yourself. Unlike a punch or kick that must be administered at full force to possibly be effective, using Jiu-Jitsu you are able to control your level of force. It is much more humane to have someone pass out for 10 seconds from a choke than to have beaten someones’ face in. Jiu-Jitsu is not life threatening like resorting to shooting someone and then having to try to emotionally deal with that for the rest of your life. Jiu-Jitsu translates to ‘The Gentle Art’ meaning it’s not based on power and strength. Rather, timing, leverage and technique which means that it is truly designed for a smaller, weaker individual who is being attacked. It also addresses how to handle a situation from yes standing, but also on the ground!
2.) The BJJ ranking system
Jiu-Jitsu has a unique, logical ranking system compared to some styles of Martial Arts.All youth 16 years and below are kept in Children’s belts. This matters since we’re dealing with joint locks and chokes that require emotionally maturity. There is something to be said about not receiving instant gratification by paying off a business to become a 10 year old black belt. We’re teaching our kids and ourselves that hard work is okay and ultimately that we’re worth all the time and energy we put into this. Each belt has four stripes before the next rank is given. There is no such thing as attitude or attendance stickers on belts for kids unless constructed by a certain franchise but not recognized by the IBJJF (International Brazilian jiu-jitsu Federation) or around the world by other academies. Comparing an eight year old black black belt or 12 year old second degree ‘Master’ to an adult Jiu-Jitsu black belt is really no comparison at all. There is no rank for No Gi (training without the uniform). There is no ranking system for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Notice how there are only four main belts in the Adult ranks. If you are training at a school that gives out other adult colored belts, belts with stripes down the middle, or anything else it is completely made up. There is no such thing as a pink belt, it is a marketing scheme. Any female is just as capable of receiving real, true rank in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. An adult yellow belt instead of one stripe on your white belt (orange belt instead of 2 stripes, etc.) is based solely on attendance, often not authentic progression and for monetary and retention purposes.
3.) The Jiu-Jitsu workout
There is nothing that compares to the exercise you receive grappling in Jiu-Jitsu. It is cardio and strength training while under intense pressure. With over 1,000 calories burnt each class it definitely beats the gym or other workouts. It’s unique since it works all areas of the body, it’s not isolated to toning one part of the body. Your goal is not to be the best at exercising. It goes soo much deeper than squats and dead lifts. You get a flexible spine and a crazy strong core.You could be a star student or the CEO getting millions of dollars and none of that will matter if your life is cut short or filled with obesity and health problems due to inactivity. Working the mind means engaging the body and Jiu-Jitsu combines the two flawlessly.
4.) Living the Lifestyle
One of the best benefits of training is taking it off the mats. The real reason for the couple of hours a week of work in the school is to enhance your daily life. Waking up to meditation, gratitude and a healthy mindset propels you into a guaranteed good day, no matter what comes along. Jiu-Jitsu teaches you how to incorporate what you learn during class to the lessons we face everyday. You gain confidence, calmness and clarity that serves you in all areas of life.
6.) The Mental Benefits (especially for ADD, ADHD, Alzheimer’s)
Exercise is vital at every age. It’s something that is imperative to have throughout life and not be sporadic, stopped over and over and started again and again. When you workout your body you’re simultaneously building up brain power. You become sharper and smarter while maintaining a positive outlook. It allows you to go deepen than physical gains and a built body with purposeless muscle.
5.) Limitless creativity
Not like other ‘dead’ Martial Arts Jiu-Jitsu is evergreen, always growing. Your black belt is truly only the beginning as you continually explore, evolve, and experiment your style. There is nothing holding you back, confining your personality, forcing rigid movements that must be mimicked verbatim. You’ll never be bored by robotic, mundane forms where the only real excitement is in how loud you can yell or grunt during each move. Each roll is different, every time with everyone. How fun is that?!
7.) The Emotional Benefits
It’s empowering to know that you’re a master problem solver. Jiu-Jitsu gifts you with a special kind of resilience. With every grappling match you start to understand and overcome any inner voice that may have stopped you before. Everyone has challenges in life that can cause major anxiety and pent up energy if we don’t have a healthy outlet to release it. Stress perceived as life threatening is just that, lethal! Feel depressed? Instead of taking pills you can take a Jiu-Jitsu class which is a magic cure all in and of itself! Having trouble sleeping at night? Not with BJJ! It’s an amazing way to unwind and leave the rest of the world behind putting your body in a ‘rest and digest’ mode.
8.) The Relationships….especially the one with yourself
As great as it can be to have lots of cool people to hang out with there is nothing like being your own best friend. Jiu-Jitsu teaches you how to take good care of yourself on all levels. Finding true happiness and inner peace is priceless. You can fill your life with busy and never get to the root of what drives you. BJJ brings out that passion to createwhole health wealth.
Tips & Tricks to stay inspired in your BJJ Training
Staying engaged in Martial Arts takes discipline. It’s not always going to be easy. There will be times where you don’t feel like it. Yet letting our laziness, hectic schedule, or insecurity get the best of us will never result in what you truly want – the end goal of being a black belt, which is really just the beginning. Be sure to stay in touch through all of our social media sites @FLOLifeBJJ @BJJAfter40 and see you on the mats!
*Dress The Part
Make sure you have what you need for training. A raggy old t-shirt isn’t going to cut it for long term training. It’s worth the investment to build up an arsenal to get you through the toughest classes. This includes a quality gi that you love, rash guards (yes, you need more than one), bottoms that facilitate 360 degree movement and whatever else you personally prefer to make Jiu-Jitsu a pleasurable experience.
*Try the Buddy System
Doing it alone is unnecessary and not nearly as fun! No matter what your personality, there is someone just your style that you can count on to meet you for class, drill with, or challenge you when needed. This is a two way relationship so you can offer support when they might need it too. Text to coordinate classes, talk about your favorite Jiu-Jitsu moves, and have a homie who gets it!
It’s important to acknowledge that you’re doing something really valuable with your time and healthy for your mind, body and spirit. When we’re young it’s stickers and high fives, now as an adult you need to give yourself those same dopamine releases. Celebrate a stripe with a delicious dinner or your next belt with a new gi. Giving yourself incentive to have positive energy outlets will only help encourage your subconscious to stay on the path towards your best self.
*Set The Stage
You have to prepare yourself for class. Just like it’s your job, take it seriously. Try to get a good night of sleep. Wake up with the intention that no matter how your day goes you’ll have Jiu-Jitsu to help you feel great. Make sure to bring a water bottle to training! Wash your workout wear (and gi) after every session. Being proactive in preparing will pump you up for BJJ, not drag you into more to do’s.
*Write it Down
Having a Jiu-Jitsu journal is a true game changer! It’s a way to solidify and expedite the learning process, no to mention cool to look back on further down the road. Spending a minimal amount of time after class to take notes will provide maximum results. This is beneficial for any belt rank and a must when you’re ready to retain what you were taught. Have a pen/pencil handy and keep your notebook in your BJJ bag. You’ll notice a difference within weeks of writing everything down.
*Let it be Known
Put it out there. Whether it’s telling your spouse, social media or a pet, find anyone to share with. It’s the first step in anything becoming really real. Don’t be timid about this either. Dream big and often. Seek out the supporters who will cheer you on, especially when you’re not feeling too secure with your training. The only way people can be there for you is if you have enough bravery to trust them with your personal objectives.
*Give yourself A Goal
Nobody else is going to do this for you. They don’t have the power. Only you know what is worthy. This is such an individual thing. For some it may be competition, others may strive for a certain number of classes per week. There is no goal too small so just start somewhere and like a staircase build up. Don’t compare what other people aim for just focus on yourself and each step to get you closer. Time goes by anyway, you may as well get everything you want!
*Look Toward Others
Give yourself some much needed motivation by mimicking someone who has what you’d like. What did they do to get where they wanted to go? What are their current ways of living the life you’d like to create? Notice how every journey is different and each success story is filled with setbacks and obstacles that had to be overcome. If they can do it, you can do it too!
*Do it Anyway
Spoiler alert: You’re going to question why you’re doing this at times, you’re not always going to want to go to class after a long, hard day. These are the exact pivotal moments that will retrain your brain to benefit your wellbeing. By getting it done and going after it no matter what it manifests an unstoppable ‘You’! Think of looking towards others, we all go through valleys. The point isn’t to reside there, it’s to keep climbing so you reach the peak!
*Incorporate it into your Daily routine
Just like you brush your teeth daily it’s no different to add physical activity to your list. Everyday you exercise it increases your energy, makes you feel great and decreases your chance of illness. You don’t realize how much it impacts you until you don’t have it in your life. Don’t get to the point where you have to always be making a comeback. When you workout regularly it becomes part of a lifestyle, not a random happening.
*Set an Alarm, put it in your Calendar
Take advantage of technology or go old school by posting notes. However you accomplish it, set it in stone that you’re making training a priority. Setting a schedule will allow you to see how it truly does fit into any life, regardless of how rigorous it is. If it’s out of sight then out of mind and too easily days turn into weeks and quite suddenly you haven’t trained in a while. As humbling as Jiu-Jitsu is, it’s 10x worse when you’re making you’re back to repping that rank.
*Listen To Music while Getting ready
Music is magical for getting you stoked about anything you’re doing. Listen to upbeat songs, nothing dreary and bleak. It’s fun to listen to your favorites while your driving or transitioning into Jiu-Jitsu mode. Have your very own set of tunes for knocking out a daily home stretch and exercise session. You can make an after playlist too that will facilitate in the winding process to jump start your relaxing and recovering.
Switch it up anyway possible. Maybe that means a new training day. If you always attend day classes opt for a night or weekend time. If you can only make certain days then adjust who you roll with. Don’t be biased here, you need to to learn how to grapple with everyone. Make it a game by only working a specific tactic or focus on one main position. Jiu-Jitsu is limitless and so is your potential. Get to know another side of yourself!
*Schedule a Private Lesson
There is nothing better than getting your instructor all to yourself! Having their full attention will let them see where your excelling and what needs work. They can offer their years worth of experience and knowledge and make huge shifts in just one session. Be mindful that you pay for what you get so don’t skimp and search for discounted deals when it comes to your future.