Guest Author: Alex Henley
Alex is the owner of Insight Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bastrop, TX, a professional grappler, husband and father of two teenagers. His bio may be found at this link.
As a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) school owner and instructor, I have parents coming to me for many reasons. Their kid(s) are getting bullied at school, they’ve got too much energy, or they’re too shy. Some say their kids spend too much time playing video games. Others home-school and want an outlet for socialization. The funny thing is, they all seem to get what they’re looking for from our kid’s BJJ classes!
The obvious benefit of enrolling your child in a martial arts class is self-defense. Not to say that is bad… self-defense is VERY important for kids and adults alike. However, not all self-defense is created equally. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu differs from the other martial arts because it utilizes leverage over strength. This means (and I see this on a regular basis) that a 130 lbs. experienced grappler can maneuver around and submit (tap out) a 210 lbs muscle-bound, inexperienced grappler. Of course the larger person is much stronger and would certainly win in a strength vs strength battle. However, BJJ is about so much more than physical strength.
In fact, it’s rare that an experienced BJJ practitioner must fight for their own safety. As you can imagine, a child who is proficient in BJJ tends to carry himself differently… more confidently. And the people around him most likely know this about him. As we know, the one thing most bullies have in common is that they look for the easy target. If your child doesn’t fit that mold, the chances of him being physically bullied are significantly decreased.
The strengths a child can feel from practicing BJJ can be felt in many aspects of his/her life. Body and spatial awareness learned from BJJ class is second to none. Not only is she constantly learning how her own body moves safely, she’s also learning how other people’s bodies move in relation to hers, how to deal with close-quarter contact, pain, balance, and so much more… All in a safe environment with expert adult supervision (as well as parents).
Along with these very physical aspects, BJJ also gives your child practical experience dealing gracefully with victory, defeat, respect, self-respect and self-esteem. All of which are critical to the development of healthy future adults.
The benefits of training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are plentiful, and we’ve really only scratched the surface in this post. If you or your child have any interest in this, please do yourself a favor and go try it out. Most schools offer a free class or free week. If you stay or if you go, I’m sure you won’t regret giving it a shot.