When your kid should start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu



When is your kid ready to start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Few common things to hear from adult BJJ practitioners are Why didn’t I start it younger? or Why my parents didn’t introduce me to BJJ when I was a kid? They all say that just because they feel all the benefits Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gave them. Every BJJ practitioner will tell way that it’s more than a way of life and BJJ saved my life in many ways. They will all tell you that even if sometimes they are not able to explain how.

So and how about our kids?
On the Kids class I often have to answer parents if is their kid ready to start? Of course parents are worried about their kids safety. BJJ is a combat sport and  a tough one, no doubt about it.
It’s why it’s so good for your child. It’s a gift they will have for their entire life and it will change to better the way they will face their fears and life challenges.
Both kids and parents will have to get used to win and loose on the daily basis. It’s part of the sport and it will be great for your kid. Try it too and let me know!
The perfect day to start is and always will be TODAY. Normally with 5 years old they are more than ready. I do teach kids from 3 years old and they are fine in class.
After few classes they will be adapted to the rules of the mats and in few classes they will have the techniques  they need to be able to “survive” at training. From that point it will be easier.

They will be each day more and more confident. Team work, socialization, workout, techniques, everything improving after every class. An experienced coach will know how to deal with each kid. Don’t forget Kids will always need motivation from their parents. BJJ is a very long marathon not a sprint. Your kid can be a traditional martial art black belt after you spend few thousand dollars and 3..4 years locked in contracts. All Martial Arts are good as a sport but only Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will have your kids literally playing chess with their bodies.  Sparring every day on the hard level is part of the classes. Don’t worry your kids will all have fun sparring.

BJJ is about to be efficient and everything you will learn in a good BJJ school is combat proved. It’s why it is a so powerful self defense and the reason your kid will be extra confident after learn BJJ.
It’s why it is so important to have a good balance when coaching kids. The classes have to be with focus on learning but to have some fun is OK.  All BJJ will do is to help your child in multiple ways.  There is not a single person able to say one bad thing about BJJ. There are bad schools or coaches. The same way can happen with your church. The religion is perfect but not all the members are.

Some kids will be hammered others will be the hammer but only for a while but as far as they keep training eventually nails will become hammers and those ups and downs will be there.
Friendship and socializing is a big part of BJJ. I can tell that 100% of the most amazing people I know I met on the mats and all my best friends already choked me out.

There is also a difference between starting BJJ and starting to compete in BJJ. 

To answer “when should a child start practicing Brazilian jiu jitsu and “when is it OK for a kid to start competing in jiu jitsu”  Hernani Caroço, an experienced psychologist, graduated from ISPA (Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada) university in 2008, who has been working with underage children between the ages of 3 and 17 for many years. Mr. Caroço had the following statement:

“An activity of this kind can promote the child’s development, not only physically but also the socially and emotionally. The control and management of aggressiveness are important assets in children with symptoms of depression and behavioral disturbances, and participating in jiu jitsu classes in a balanced manner can help him/her cope and accept these more delicate emotions.
Baring exception to certain impairments, specific to each case, we can say that at 5-6 years of age a child is prepared to take part in martial arts classes, however, competition should be introduced at a later stage, from 6 to 10. Not only will an 8-10 year old child have the maturity to deal with the frustration of defeat, they will also be more predisposed to following the rules set to each specific game, this way receiving supplementary self fulfillment from the activity. – Hernani Caroço (BJJheroes)

Many parents want to produce world champions, and their forceful behavior may have a negative impact on the child’s psyche. Does each child develop at it’s own pace? Certainly, but these aforementioned guidelines should be kept in mind, as should the youngster’s enjoyment and fulfillment out of participating in this activity.
I have more than 20 years teaching kids and I always had kids with more skills or more aggressive than others.  it’s normal that they will “win” more and more often at the begging. But with some time and the right coaching a weaker or less skilled kid with get there too. They will all grow intro it. The hardest part is to make sure your kids are not there to impress their parents and make sure their parents can understand that all the physical challenge and emotions inside the practice are good for the kids. It will only make your kids better and prepared for life. You can have the nicest kid ever and you can be sure your child will never start a fight but one day a fight will pick your kid for sure.  It’s more than a miracle and impossible to list all the benefits BJJ can bring to a child. Self defense is just one of them. In my opinion we have to make the kids understand that to learn BJJ will be good for them in many ways and as a parent we need to show them how happy we are for their training victories but above that we are also happy because they are improving. I was shy and a not very confident kid and BJJ for sure made me stronger and gave me the tools to deal with life problems and to look at peoples eyes when dealing with them.  The confidence acquired is so big that I avoided many fights as a kid just because I knew I could easily beat the other kid just staring at him.

All those years teaching kids made me learn a lot about them and deal with every kind of kid and parent.
When a parent look for a BJJ school for a child is because of the feeling that BJJ will improve something in their life.
But sometimes anxious parents are not able to wait for the learning process. They want their kids winning now. But it will not happen right away. I deal with that every day. I am a father too. Sometimes the kid wants to keep on training but the pressure from the parents makes it harder than the practice itself. It’s important to understand that eventually all the kids will get better.
There are only improvements. It kid on their own time. Not every kid was born a competitor but every kid can become one with the right guidance.
Some kids don’t have the athleticism but that’s the cool part of BJJ. Because eventually they will all get there. I am the live proof of that. I was always the smaller, weaker, slower, uncoordinated and of course the lazy one. If I was a wrestler for example I would not last a day it requires a lot of athleticism but as a BJJ fighter I could win few world medals and more than that I could beat tons of bigger, stronger, faster and more famous guys than me. I was always taught that consistence would make me stronger on the good way. Inside the mats or in my life. There are not many sports on the planet where you can see a little girl beating a much bigger guy. That’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!

Just let your kid start BJJ and keep your kid on training. Try to find a friend that has a kid already training. Make sure you research a lot for a good Mentor to your kid with a great reputation.
A good school will always be surrounded by good people.
Let your kid try it. Try it yourself. You will never be to young or to old to start.
Like I mentioned I have toddlers in class but I also have grandpas on the mats.

E mail your suggestions or questions I will be happy to be able to somehow to help

Andre Quiles