With Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experiencing an uptick in popularity lately, many people are looking to the art for the first time and seeing what it can bring to their lives. Thoughts then turn to children and whether they too can benefit from jiujitsu. After all, there are countless advertisements touting BJJ as the ultimate form of self-defense-the antidote to bullying. Parents see the choke defenses, headlock escapes, and sucker-punch counters and think “perfect, this style of self-defense can keep my child safe from bullies, WITHOUT teaching them to hit people”.
And it can, but perhaps not in the way those people originally thought. One of the main things that Jiujitsu does (especially in children) is to promote a different way of thinking. The constant physical contact and action-reaction based nature of jiujitsu helps to inspire confidence within its practitioners. Because you are literally always working with another person, and people are unpredictable by nature, you start to learn to constantly be aware, but not fearful. When rolling you learn to expose yourself less whilst protecting yourself more. You become confident in your ability to protect your space. You gain confidence in yourself knowing that you are able to protect yourself, regardless of what someone else does.
Jiu-jitsu WILL put you into situations that are unfamiliar, it WILL put you into positions that are uncomfortable, and it WILL force you to push past your limits time and time again. But because of that constant adversity, a certain intrinsic toughness is nurtured and brought to the forefront. With children often being referred to as “sponges”, this thought process is perhaps one of the most important things transferred to them. We transfer to children the ability to overcome their fear(s), we teach them that you don’t have to lash out when you’re fearful or nervous. Jiujitsu helps to teach patience and demonstrates that thrashing about in a stressful situation only serves to make the danger worse, and it shows this lesson is one that can be applied across many facets of our lives.
When we sign our children up for jiujitsu classes we are hoping that their instructors will teach them to protect themselves. Protect themselves from the physical threats; the mean kids, the bullies etc. But perhaps one of the best things they learn is the confidence to NOT react with violence. Because they learn that you don’t have to.
By: Kenneth Page