Kids Jiu Jitsu is the practice of Jiu Jitsu (more commonly referred to as Brazilian or Gracie Jiu Jitsu) and is specifically designed for children ages 13 and below. Jiu Jitsu for boys and Jiu Jitsu for girls are one and the same as the techniques are easily learned without reliance on physical attributes. There are some Kids Jiu Jitsu schools that offer Jiu Jitsu for toddler classes and often require the parent to participate.
What is Jiu Jitsu?
Jiu Jitsu is a martial art and a combat sport that utilizes grappling, clinching and ground fighting techniques as a means of efficiently neutralizing an opponent with minimal to zero use of striking. It has become popular in recent years as an effective self-defense system and sport activity for children because of its practical approach to threats with minimal effort and risk of injury.
Introduction of Jiu Jitsu for Kids
The training of Jiu Jitsu during a child's formative years is invaluable. It promotes: Cognitive, Physical, Emotional development. Additionally, it enhances: Coordination, Balance, Agility and overall Body Awareness. By requiring children to work with others to improve, training Jiu Jitsu also teaches respect, self-confidence and social skills across individuals of varying age groups. The environment of which all of these benefits come together for applied practice is a microcosm of what is needed to thrive in the real world, while nurturing the child in a safe and caring environment. Training in Jiu Jitsu prepares the child for adulthood in the safest and reinforcing training environment.
Kids Jiu Jitsu for Different Age Groups and Levels
Parents interested in introducing Jiu Jitsu to their kids may start as young as 3 years old. However, the specific age groups may vary depending on the Jiu Jitsu Association or Academy and the demographics of the area. While age is often used as a guideline, the grouping of children is primarily based on their stage of cognitive development, gross motor skills, and emotional maturity level. The aim is to create an environment where children can learn and progress alongside their peers who are at a similar developmental stage, regardless of their exact age. This approach ensures that the curriculum and training activities are appropriately tailored to the abilities and needs of each child, allowing them to engage in Jiu Jitsu in a manner that supports their individual growth and progress.
The age group in the youngest category (3-7 years old) are usually introduced to Jiu Jitsu through play. Introducing movement, cultivating enthusiasm, and building stamina for focused teaching in the next level. This group is all about fun through movement and energy management.
The middle group in the category (7-10 years old) are usually introduced to basic Jiu Jitsu techniques and positions. If the child is newly introduced to Jiu Jitsu training at this age, there will be a learning curve in these movements and techniques compared to a child that graduated from the younger category. The focus in this class is to create familiarity of the foundational techniques in Jiu Jitsu and the context of their application in practice. Usually, the coach will partner with the child, unless the child has developed enough control to train with their classmate.
The oldest group (8-13 years old) are now shifting into a structured training program which closely resembles an adult class. Exercise drills are more intentional in developing the physical and mental pre-requisites to practice with a resisting partner. The children partner with one another and may even begin to spar each other for practice against a resisting opponent.
There are variations to the grouping of age and levels based on the Academy being attended. Some academies may even allow sparring (or even competition) at an earlier age. It is important for the parent to observe their child during class to determine if the training environment is a match for the child.
Techniques and Fundamentals
While there are slight tactical differences between Senior Jiu Jitsu techniques taught to Adults vs. Junior Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques taught to younger kids. What’s most important are the universal concepts Jiu Jitsu teaches which overlay all age groups.
As the child’s movement and gross motor skills develop, techniques are introduced to gain positional control and submissions. Techniques allow the use of body mechanics in such a way to produce the maximum amount of leverage and efficiency to gain the upper hand.
Positional control is a goal for the child to establish a staging point where they can launch their defensive or offensive countermeasure. This is especially necessary if the child is matched against a larger, stronger opponent.
Basic positions your child will learn in Jiu Jitsu class:
- The Guard is generally a defensive position where the child laying on their back controls the opponent by straddling their legs around the opponent’s torso, using their arms to clinch their opponent’s head and restricting the opponent’s movement, thus denying the space needed by the opponent to attack the child. Although considered defensive, many countermeasures can be launched by the child from this position.
- The Mount, is an advantageous control position in Jiu Jitsu, particularly suitable for children. When a child successfully transitions their opponent onto their back, they secure the Mount by straddling the opponent's torso. In this position, the child applies pressure by pressing their chest against the opponent's chest and clinching behind the opponent's neck with one arm. Meanwhile, they extend their other arm outward to maintain balance. By leveraging gravity, the child effectively increases their weight, and they utilize the floor to immobilize their opponent.
- The Back (Rear) Mount, is another advantageous control position in Jiu Jitsu and especially effective for children. This is when the child straddles their opponent from behind, making a connection of their chest to their opponent’s back and clasping their arms diagonally across their oppoents torso like a seatbelt. This is the perfect staging area for a counteroffensive move, since the opponent cannot attack with their back towards the child.
Submissions are a key component to Jiu Jitsu practice. Unlike striking it gives the child the ability to control how much pressure to apply on their opponent, thus allowing their opponent to concede voluntarily. It is important to note that certain submission techniques, such as those involving strangulation or choking, are not taught to children due to the potential risk of severe injury or fatality. These techniques can impede blood flow to the brain and pose significant danger.
Basic Submissions you child will learn in Jiu Jitsu class:
- The "Americana" submission, also known as the "Keylock," is an offensive hold commonly executed from the mount position. In this technique, the child applying the submission focuses on immobilizing their opponent's shoulder. Firstly, they secure the backhand side of the opponent's wrist using their hand on the same side, while positioning their forearm at a 90-degree angle relative to the isolated shoulder. Next, the child slides their other forearm underneath the opponent's pinned bicep and interlocks their free hand with their wrist, gaining control of the forearm. The application of pressure to the shoulder is achieved by maintaining the 90-degree angle of the opponent's arm, exerting downward pressure on the opponent's wrist, and gradually elevating the trapped elbow towards the sky. By isolating the opponent's shoulder, this technique induces pain and discomfort, compelling them to abandon any attempts to attack or escape the child's control.
- The Armlock submissions, an offensive and counteroffensive technique that can be executed from various positions such as Guard, Mount, and Standing. This submission primarily targets the opponent's elbow, aiming to hyperextend it and cause pain or discomfort. The child is instructed to isolate the opponent's shoulder by utilizing their legs to straddle or by pinching with their armpit, particularly when applying the technique from a standing position. This serves as a vice-like grip to restrict the opponent's mobility. Once the shoulder is effectively isolated, the child applies pressure either through the use of their hips (in the case of Guard or Mount positions) or by utilizing gravity in a downward direction (in the case of the Standing position). This pressure is directed towards hyperextending the opponent's elbow, thereby inducing significant discomfort and pain.
- The Kimura lock is an offensive submission hold that shares similarities with the "Americana" in terms of targeting the opponent's shoulder. However, there is a distinction in the positioning of the arm. In the Americana lock, the opponent's arm is positioned at a 90-degree angle pointing towards the upper body, whereas in the Kimura lock, the 90-degree angle is directed towards the lower body. The ultimate result remains the same, as both locks induce significant pain by applying pressure to the shoulder. What sets the Kimura lock apart is its versatility, as it can be executed from the Guard, Mount, and Standing positions. This makes it a favorable submission for children to learn, as it provides them with greater control over their opponent and lowering risk of injury during practice. Additionally, the Kimura lock can be utilized defensively to neutralize an opponent's attacks, while also offering the option to transition into an offensive position.
Physical Conditioning and Stretching
The training format for children in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu embraces a play-based and organic approach, influenced by Brazilian culture. This stands in contrast to traditional Asian martial arts that often incorporate strict and conventional conditioning methods such as push-ups, sit-ups, and forced splits. Instead, conditioning in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for children focuses on movement and agility drills, allowing them to develop their physical abilities in a dynamic and engaging manner.
After the play-based drills, stretching is encouraged to promote flexibility. The emphasis is placed on creating a balanced and enjoyable training experience. Formal conditioning exercises are introduced when necessary, such as when children start sparring or decide to participate in competitions. This ensures that conditioning is gradually introduced, aligning with the child's progression and individual goals within the discipline.
Is there a need for additional preparation of the child for Jiu Jitsu classes?
There are no physical pre-requisites for the child to be prepared for Jiu jitsu class, rather the most important trait we look for is the child's willingness to participate. A childs enthusiasm to participate may be easy for some but slow for others. The parent can encourage their willingness by coming into class and just letting the child put on their uniform, observe and not feel pressure to participate. It comes down to the parents conviction in incorporating Jiu Jitsu training into the childs life by showing up to every class with the child.
Safety and Rules
Because of Jiu Jitsu's foundation in Martial Arts, it encompasses a set of rules and etiquette that surpass the mere focus on competition. Success in Jiu Jitsu is determined not only by accomplishing the objective but also by the manner in which it is accomplished. This Martial Art places great importance on the collective effort of training partners, relying on a network effect, and fostering trust is paramount. While specific rules may differ across training locations for children, there are generally established rules both on and off the mat. As an example the rules for Gracie University is as follows:
Gracie Jiu Jitsu – Respect & Considerations
OFF THE MAT
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early to class.
- Wear clean Jiu Jitsu uniform (Gi and No-Gi)
- Whisper in the hallways. Sound travels easily & may interrupt the class.
- Care for the facility like it’s your home, because it is.
- Wash your hands before and after class.
- Keep nails trimmed, hair tied back and remove all jewelry.
- Always use footwear when using restroom facilities.
- Children not participating in class must be supervised.
- Never walk around shirtless outside the changing rooms.
- Visit GracieUniversity.com to review yesterday’s lesson and prepare for tomorrow’s lesson.
ON THE MAT
- If you’re late, check-in with the instructor before entering the class.
- Always respect, encourage and educate your training partners.
- Watch with good posture, and communicate with respectful language.
- Select training partners that make you feel safe and comfortable.
- Never feel obligated to spare with anyone, listen to your body.
- Tap early, Tap often and make youre partner’s safety a priority.
- Report any inappropriate, unclean, or unsafe students to the instructor.
- Report all injuries, abrasions, or skin infections to the instructor.
- When nursing injuries, train less, watch more, but come to class.
- Chase the knowledge, not the belt.
Training Etiquette for Children
Training etiquette is the first concept taught to children training in Jiu Jitsu. It's the staging point where discipline, respect and accountability is cultivated. Children are encouraged to listen attentively to their coaches and follow instructions. They learn to treat their training partners with respect by addressing them by their proper names and showing appreciation for their assistance. Due to the close contact element of Jiu Jitsu, Hygiene is emphasized greatly. Clean uniforms, trimming nails, and washing hands promote a clean and safe training environment. Kids are shown how to control their strength during practice to mitigate risk of injury. Finally, humility in both victory and defeat is emphasized in order to promote a collaborative atmosphere. By following this training etiquette, children will not only develop technical skills in Jiu Jitsu but can apply this model to their daily life.
Character Development and Psychological Benefits
Jiu Jitsu develops a child’s character through physical practice and reinforcement of core values. Children who practice Jiu Jitsu learn the importance of discipline, respect, perseverance and self-control. Jiu Jitsu introduces scalable challenges that boys and girls of all ages can overcome fostering resilience and determination. By incorporating Jiu Jitsu into a child's lifestyle, the child begins to develop a growth mindset, understanding that effort and dedication are key to progress. Because Jiu Jitsu is a partner reliant martial art, the children also learn respect for one another and their coaches, cultivating a cooperative atmosphere and positive community. Finally, Jiu Jitsu promotes humility because children will experience victories and defeats through their regular practice. They will learn to appreciate that their success is tied to consistency and perseverance and not a single outcome. All of these attributes contribute to the child's overall confidence, resilience and moral strength.
Kids Jiu Jitsu classes at Ronin Athletics
New York City provides a diverse selection of Kids Jiu Jitsu Academy tailored for children of different age groups. These classes primarily concentrate on Jiu Jitsu as a competitive physical fitness activity, often involving one child attempting to submit to another in a wrestling match. However, Ronin Athletics’ Kids Jiu Jitsu program stands out due to its distinctive focus on Jiu Jitsu as a means of self-defense, fostering a collaborative environment where children partner with one another and practice essential self-defense techniques. This program promotes a shift from a competitive, rivalry-based learning atmosphere to a more inclusive and cooperative one.
The program offered at Ronin Athletics is called Gracie Bullyproof®. This unique approach to teaching children Jiu Jitsu was developed by Gracie University whose family is famous for introducing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to the U.S. and created the premiere Mixed Martial Arts promotion, the UFC.
The objective of the Gracie Bullyproof® program is to empower a child by helping them establish their personal boundaries and equipping them with the skills to defend them if threatened. Jiu Jitsu isn’t just about physical fighting – it’s a self-defense state of mind. The program covers the following:
- Encourages the child to listen to their instincts if they feel their boundaries are being encroached.
- Informs the child that they have the right to defend themselves from any threat – emotional, verbal and/or physical.
- Teaches the child verbal assertiveness tactics to respond to non-physical threats, Rules of Engagement protocols on how to deal with common bullying situations and finally, if all non-violent options have been exhausted, how to use their Jiu Jitsu to neutralize the Bully without injuring them.
Over the past 2 decades, Jiu Jitsu as a sport has become popular with many famous celebrities touting its benefits. The true benefit of Jiu Jitsu for children is its philosophy of prioritizing self-worth above all. This is best practiced in an atmosphere of collaboration and positive reinforcement, one that is the sole focus of the Gracie Bullyproof® program exclusively offered at Ronin Athletics in New York City and its surrounding boroughs.
How do I get started?
By scheduling an appointment for your child’s first trial class.