Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is a world-renowned, high-intensity martial art that, like karate, requires technique, dedication, and athleticism. So, you might be wondering, is jiu-jitsu for kids? And at what age can kids start jiu-jitsu?
There are several factors to consider before starting your child in jiu-jitsu or any martial arts, including maturity, competitiveness, and their level of physical and emotional development.
Benefits of Jiu-Jitsu
You might be surprised to know that BJJ Master Charles Gracie, a 7th degree black belt, started jiu-jitsu at only five years old! Activities like jiu-jitsu teach children invaluable lessons at a young age, and help their bodies and minds develop healthily.
Organized activities, whether they’re team sports or individual, have tons of physical, emotional, and social benefits for young kids. It’ll help them maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, make friends, learn sportsmanship and how to respect the rules of the game, instructors, and other players, develop motor skills, and of course they’ll have lots of fun along the way.
There are many benefits to enrolling your child early for martial arts classes. Jiu-jitsu aids in the development of their balance, discipline, motor skills, concentration, listening skills, social skills, hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and flexibility. Starting your child young builds self-confidence, helps them overcome shyness, and encourages socialization.
Some more benefits of jiu-jitsu for your child include the satisfaction of setting a goal and achieving it, learning teamwork and cooperativity, building self-worth and self-awareness, showing them basic self-defense, teaching them the importance of commitment and responsibility, and keeping them occupied with something positive and worthwhile.
Is My Child Mature Enough for Martial Arts?
Each child develops differently, some may develop quickly while others may take a little longer. Either way, you know your child best. Sports of any kind, especially one as physical as jiu-jitsu, requires some level of physical and emotional maturity. Brazilian jiu-jitsu requires a lot of learning and memorization to start with, which might be difficult for younger kids to handle.
Jiu-jitsu requires your child to be able to communicate with others, last about half an hour or longer without any breaks, participate in class, and make controlled, physical contact with others. If your child is too shy to leave your side, jiu-jitsu might be a difficult activity to begin with. Most classes last about 30-45 minutes for younger students, so they will need to last that long in a room without you. Keep in mind, this is a high contact sport. Starting out will be very basic and gentle, however there will still be quite a bit of physical contact like grappling between the students. Your child should be prepared to initiate and withstand contact from others.
Although children under the age of 6 can still have fun and get good exercise with martial arts, they might not have the motor skills to carry out proper technique. Six is generally the magic number in sports because that’s the age that children have sufficient muscle control.
However, children as young as four years old exhibit balance and enough control to jump, skip, run, and even kick. At this age the emphasis is less on skill and more on introducing them to the art of jiu-jitsu, improving their general movement, hand-eye coordination, and socializing them with other kids their age. Between the ages of four and six, children learn an amazing amount; they are like a sponge absorbing the world around them.
Training competitively for jiu-jitsu doesn’t usually begin until the ages of 8-10. At that age, children generally have enough control over their emotions to cope with frustration and losing. As they develop physically, children are also developing socially and emotionally. Even if a child has developed physically, that does not necessarily mean they are mature enough to compete in jiu-jitsu. Competing takes a level of maturity to follow the rules of the game, listen to feedback from instructors, and accept defeat gracefully.
Learning to lose is an important skill for everyone to have, and it should be taught at a very young age. Losing is inevitable, especially in competitive martial arts. Jiu-jitsu serves as a great learning opportunity for children (and teaching opportunity for parents!) when it comes to losing. They will learn that losing is not the end of the world, and instead should use it as motivation to practice more. Embracing a mindset that practice makes you better--not perfect--will encourage them to stay committed to improving themselves, and won’t sour their perception of jiu-jitsu.
What to expect from my child’s first class
It’s always nerve-racking walking into your first day of jiu-jitsu class, but remember every master was once a beginner. For those of you who are apprehensive about starting your child, Granite Bay Jiu-Jitsu’s free 7-day trial is the best way to start. You and your child can get a good idea of what it’s like before committing.
You should expect a fun, easy-going, positive experience for your child’s first class. Instructors know how uncomfortable it can be for kids to start something new, especially surrounded by people they’ve never seen before. It’s important to remember that all the other students are in the same place, so there’s no fear of embarrassing themselves. Arrive a little early to allow your child to take a look around and feel a little more comfortable.
Your child should expect to do an easy warm up to get their blood flowing and release some nerves. The less they’re focused on being a newbie, the more fun they’ll have, and the more likely they’ll want to continue.
You and your child should go in with realistic expectations. They will not turn into a karate master overnight, it will take years and years of practice, dedication, and hard work before you start to see real progress. For a while, it might not seem like there’s anything happening, but it’s important to not get frustrated or impatient, and give up. Remember, it’s more about the journey than the destination.
Free 7 Day Trial
If your child is itching to start a sport or activity of some sort, consider enrolling them in jiu-jitsu. You are never too young (or old!) to start jiu-jitsu. The best way to tell if your child is ready to start jiu-jitsu is by giving it a try. If you’re in the Roseville or Granite Bay Area and searching for karate for kids near me, come check us out with our free 7-day trial!