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Why You Should Train Jiu Jitsu With Your Child

In this month’s blog, we interview one of our students – David – who also trains here at SJJA with his son. We ask him all about the benefits jiu jitsu has had on himself and his child, why it’s so beneficial for families to train jiu jitsu together, and advice for parents who are thinking of joining in on the fun with their kids. 

Tell us about the commencement of your BJJ journey: what got you into BJJ? Had you trained other types of martial arts before?

My first martial art was karate as a teenager. I’ve trained multiple other martial arts; armed and unarmed since the mid-1980’s. I spent over 12 years competing at an international level in another discipline (fencing). I was past my best competitive years, but still enjoy coaching. I’ve always been drawn to technical combat arts/sports, and was looking for a new discipline to learn. My son talked me into coming back to the mats to train BJJ about 6 years ago, and I’m very grateful that he did.

What about your son? When did he start training BJJ?

My son started BJJ 7 years ago. He had some temper regulation issues at school which needed addressing. I learned many years ago that grappling arts are much better at teaching emotional regulation than striking arts. This is due to the time spent in uncomfortable positions and having to learn how to manage this physically and emotionally. Needless to say it was a success. He still enjoys his BJJ training, he’s a good student and we’ve had no temper or discipline issues since.

What attracted you to SJJA in particular?

Culture is the first thing I recognize when I visit anywhere – whether work, sport, travel or friends. It was the first thing I noticed at SJJA. I was impressed by the attitude, skills and pedagogy of the instructors and the different ways they teach young students all the way through to adults. I was also recommended to SJJA by some friends from previous sports who were training here. 

How do you think BJJ has benefited each of you individually?

As mentioned above, I’ve seen very positive changes in my son’s temper regulation & discipline both on and off the mats. He’s always been very focused, but is more even tempered and measured as a result of his training. He reads people very well and can manage/avoid conflict far better as a result of his training. His younger cousin also trains with SJJA, so they (and we) have a lot of fun rolling together.

For myself, I feel a lot calmer in my work life, which is frequently in high stress environments with a lot of uncertainty and multiple, frequently changing variables. I find that solving physical problems during training helps me process complex problems at work, and maintain a lower level of stress whilst doing so. Day to day life is more relaxing as well.

SJJA Crows Nest is a very supportive environment, from the top down. There’s a lot of people on the mats dealing with much bigger issues at work, at home or on a personal level. Training provides an opportunity to forget all of that for a few hours each week and focus completely on something else. For me, this acts like a pressure release valve. No matter how bad the day/week had been before training, it never seems quite as daunting after a good training session.

Comparing BJJ to other sports, why do you think jiu jitsu is such a great sport for families to do together?

It’s another (physical) language to learn and share together. There are techniques, concepts, positions, tactics and sequences which are a lot of fun to work on together. The beauty of the art is that kids can help solve some of the challenges adults face in their game, and vice versa. So there’s a shared growth and development within Jiu Jitsu, as well as within the family. 

It’s also great because whilst training, kids & adults are free from outside distractions. This allows them to completely focus on each other and what they’re doing. This builds stronger bonds between parents and kids and helps link focus and concentration with positive outcomes. This translates to many other areas of life.

We see a lot of parents on the sidelines watching their kids train. We imagine there are some who might be deterred from training, and others who are thinking about joining their kids and start training BJJ. What advice would you give to these parents ? 

Most parents are accustomed to making sacrifices and facing fears for their kids. This translates easily into beginning their Jiu Jitsu journey. Start with a beginners class. The coaches will match you with someone who will make sure you don’t get injured. There’s plenty of older practitioners who all work day jobs. They’re not there to smash and destroy everyone they roll with. If you have any concerns, let your training partner know before you start rolling, so they know to take things easy. Everyone at SJJA has been a day one white belt, so everyone knows that feeling and will do their best to make sure you have a good experience during training.

Do you have any tips for parents who have decided they’re going to start training themselves?

You’re never too old to start. Don’t worry about getting fit first. Training will do that for you. Start small, even if it’s only one class per week. If you decide it’s for you, fit as many training sessions as your scheduling allows. You’ll feel the benefits in a short period of time.

If you’re starting later in life (I started BJJ aged 44), I recommend stretching/yoga either daily or at least before training sessions for injury prevention, faster recovery & pain minimisation. Warming up and warming down is also important, as is good hydration.

If you’re thinking about embarking on your jiu jitsu adventure, take a look at Boss Hunter’s article Top 10 Brazilian Jiu-jitsu gyms in Sydney, or start today by scheduling a free trial session and begin your journey right away!

Sydney Jiu Jitsu Academy SJJA
SJJA Crows Nest
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