There isn’t just one but there are two best times to start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. One was twenty years ago and the other one is right now.
What do I mean by this?
I mean that it doesn’t matter how old are you, it is always the right time to start martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As an adult starting out, it’s easy to adjust BJJ to fit in with your limitations and advantages, but what about for kids? Should there be a right age? Well, the answer to this is — yes. It’s actually a bit complex. BJJ does have programs specially dedicated for youngsters that are Jiu-Jitsu champions in the making. By reading this article, you will be able to decide exactly where your child fits in. Once you have decided, it’s time to hand over to your coach. He’s the one that will handle your kids’ future training and grappling!
When discussing martial arts and sports that require intense training, earlier is not always best. Children are born active at a very early age and they require specific training and physical engagement. The natural process of growth could mess up if you don’t do things the right way. It’s not as simple as choosing the right sports or MMA for your child, it’s also about ensuring your kids to start training at the right age. You shouldn’t worry though because BJJ is suitable for all ages. So, you just need to work out where your child fits in and which academy will suit him the best.
Children and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
When I was a kid, I didn’t have a computer and I spent the vast majority of the day outside. When I was nearing the end of my time in primary school I got my first computer but it still didn’t keep me indoors. I loved to play ball, climb trees, and jump from one rooftop to the next. Growing up, we kids discovered what our bodies were intended for and I can tell you that they are not intended for sitting in front of a computer all day long. No kid really found it difficult to start a sports or martial arts back then because we were physically equipped as we were already active by nature.
What’s the Best Age for Children to Start Martial Arts like BJJ?
It’s unfortunate to say that we now live in a world where our children prefer to stay at home with a tablet or phone instead of going out and getting exercise. This is the norm today, and it’s really hampering the physical development of your children. You may not notice it every day but ask your child to do something that requires coordination and you will see exactly what I mean. For example, ask your child to do a crab walk or a jumping jack. If they are successful, then you are doing a great job as a parent.
However, the reality is quite different. Each time children enter a BJJ classroom for the first time, I noticed they have less and less natural coordination. BJJ can turn things back around but you can’t try this technique too early on. Having said this, I cannot stress enough how crucial age is when starting Jiu-Jitsu.
What Age Should Kids Start BJJ?
There is no correct answer to this question. It’s all about categories. Starting your child off too early can actually have a detrimental effect on their future in BJJ. Before the age of four or five it’s not a good idea. It’s been shown that when you try to get your kids to start training at such an early age, they will more than likely develop an aversion to sports later in life, something that needs to be avoided. At such an early age, your child won’t have the attention span that is required for BJJ and body coordination is also lacking, but it’s also important that you don’t hold out for too long.
Unlike other martial arts like Judo, BJJ has an efficient and precise system that’s perfect for kids’ classes. You’ll find that kids are placed into groups according to age. The youngest, aged 5 to 7 will have short classes around 30 minutes. This ensures that they remain focused and interested during the class as their attention span won’t last longer. Children between 8 to 12 years of age, however, can keep focused for longer. Their classes will be somewhere between 45 minutes to 1 hour in length. Teenagers are also put in a separate group. Although some 16-year-old students may physically look like adults, still they aren’t. They aren’t kids anymore either so they are somewhere in between.
All the best BJJ academies offer these three different separate groups and classes. So, as long as your child is at least in the minimum age, you have nothing to worry about. If your local academy doesn’t offer classes for young children, then you have to wait. It’s not good putting your child in a class with children that are a lot older. Though sometimes, you can find mixed age classes for BJJ. So, when are these appropriate?
Mixed Age Classes
Classes with mixed age kids can be an option for you if you can’t find a specific age group class available. A lot of academies will mix children of ages 4 to 12 together in one class, but this really is a big gap between the youngest and oldest in the group. A 12-year-old will have very different cognitive and physical abilities than a child of 4. These classes can work under certain circumstances, however.
A great instructor is the key to a successful mixed-age class. The more skilled and certified the instructor, the better. But most of all, you need an instructor that has experience working with kids of mixed ages. For these mixed age groups to work, it’s also vital that the group has at least three instructors, one for each age group.
Under these circumstances, a mixed group class can actually work well. The older children will become role models for the youngsters and warm ups will be done together alongside some of the basic moves. The groups will then be divided up for more specific training where each age group will have its own instructor.
It’s always the right decision to enroll your child in a Jiu-Jitsu class. What’s left up for you to decide is the age at which you will enrol your child. If there are classes in your local area that cater for young children, then nothing should be stopping you from signing up your 5 or 6-year-old today. If there aren’t classes available for such young ages, try to get your kids into Jiu-Jitsu by the time they are 7 or 8. They will benefit both physically and emotionally from their classes and chances will be Jiu-Jitsu is something that they will grow to love.