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One could write their dissertation on this topic as there are numerous avenues to explore. For the sake of time and space I am only going to touch on the highlights. As a parent who trains jiu jitsu I can say from experience that it is great for “ALL” kids.
Kids have an endless supply of energy which needs to be channeled in meaningful directions which allows them the opportunity to have thoughtful play that keeps them entertained and out of trouble. Kids are like sponges and are able to soak up information easily since they have not established set biases. Working with kids at an early age is crucial in helping to establish their self esteem, cognitive skills and confidence.
So why jiu jitus you ask. Jiu jitsu is physical yet controlled, this allows the kids the opportunity to expel much of that adolescent energy as they build muscle coordination, flexibility, stamina, respect, humility, and self restraint in a safe and supervised environment. However, as physical as jiu jitsu might be it is as much mental if not more. Jiu jitsu is similar to solving a life size puzzle, technique requires mental practice and repetition, and as the child’s library of techniques expand so will the need to solve more complex puzzles. These puzzles I speak of is the ability to link multiple techniques together, respond with the proper counter to the opponents attack, and the development of a personal style and strategy. The cognitive skills used in training jiu jitsu are similar to that of a chess player. And we can not forget the self confidence that kids gain from such physical accomplishments, which can serve to keep them from being bullied in school and less inclined to be involved in school yard brawls.
Kids love to grapple, it comes natural to them to roll around on the ground and horse play, so I say why not get them into an environment which lends to this natural act. Kids classes are a great opportunity for your child to make many new friends and usually are right after school making it very conveient. Many academies have free trial periods where your child can test the waters so to speak, if you have the opportunity I encourage you to take advantage of the offer if available.
Guest Article: Blue Belt Arron Sparling
Invisible Jiu Jitsu. I heard this term for the first time about a year and a half ago on the Fightworks Podcast when they were interviewing non other than Rickson Gracie. Since that time I have heard it come up a few other times but most people never address it or speak of it, why you say, well because many might simply say, what the hell is it. I believe like most metaphysical things that one can not touch, hear, smell or see it with there own senses, that it is up to the individual to determine what “IT” is.
I liken it to an analogy which involves sports highlights. Stay with me here for a minute. It came to me as I was catching a ESPN top ten greatest plays, you know the ones where Lebron spins through 5 guys from 20 feet out and with his back turned to the basket falling in the opposite direction, without looking puts the ball up, over, and between two 7 foot tall defenders and into the basket for two and usually an and 1 or the receiver who shakes the relentless defensive back only to have to leap into the air moving in the opposite direction as the ball, reaches back across his body one handed bringing the ball in by his fingertips, than manges to spot the landing, which is a quarter of an inch from the side line, reverse his momentum to stay in bounds, get his feet underneath him and gracefully at near unimaginable speed burst down the sideline into the endzone for 6.
Many might say, wow what luck that was that those guys pulled that off, I say luck had nothing to do with it. It was body awareness, and countless hours of drilling, YES there is drilling outside of Jiu Jitsu. I am gonna start with the drilling concept first. Drilling as monotonous as it may be refines technique, creates muscle memory, strengthens muscles and coordination, speeds up timing and improves your overall flow. All these benefits or added attributes gained from drilling increases your body awareness. What I mean by body awareness is knowing where you are at any given moment during the rolling session. An example might be knowing where you want your weight, grips, and leverage weather you are in the guard, playing guard, or even inverted. It is not enough to not only know where you are at any given moment but more importantly where you are going to be next, whether this is by your intentions or that of your training partner or opponent.
I believe that as your technique develops and grows so will your Jiu Jitsu vision, seeing the invisible by feeling the invisible. As you continue to drill your technique either by solo, partner or flow drills you will not only see and feel what “IS” there, you will be able to see, sense and feel the gaps which are not visible to the eye because it those spaces are ingrained into you higher conscious from countless hours of drilling and training, the same way the basketball player can put the ball into the air with his back turned the basket with confidence seeing what he cannot physically see because he knows where his body is at that given moment in relation to his teammates, his opponents and the objective.
Something that works for me and may not be for you, is to roll from time to time with my eyes closed. This drill forces me to flow and makes it so that I can not react to what is visible and instead I can only react to what is felt at that specific moment. I am able to feel the opponents weight and balance, I know when they are going to move or shift, so that I can be a head of them in the loop. For me invisible Jiu Jitsu is seeing those parts or unseen gaps in the art which can only be anticipated and felt. This is something that I will continue to develop throughout my Jiu Jitsu journey. My money says that through drilling and more drilling, with a side of drilling for added effect you will develop your own meaning of invisible Jiu Jitsu and at the very least become a monster on the mats.
One of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far has been teaching the values of jiu jitsu to the kids in our community. This last Tuesday we promoted our first orange belts in our kids program. The three boys who were promoted have dedicated years of training with us, I have seen them all develop into great jiu jitsu practitioners. Along with a great jiu jitsu game the biggest changes I’ve noticed have been in their personality and the way they carry themselves. Confidence, self-respect, teamwork, self-discipline, and patience have been just a few of the values these young warriors possess. The future is looking very bright for our young students, and I’m excited to see how they’ll impact our community in a positive way in the future! If you know of a young boy or girl who would be interested in learning jiu jitsu and all its accompanying values, feel free to contact us or bring them in to try out a class. Check out all the photos from the promotions on our BJJ Seaside Facebook fan page under the Flickr tab.