Planning to register kids for BJJ and have so many questions...

Crosswind117

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Hello everybody,

This is my first post. I guess I'll first introduce myself to give readers some context, because I'm sure some people will ask follow-up questions before offering some answers.

I'm a dad with three sons, aged 8, 5, and 2. I'm considering signing up my two oldest sons for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Other than my wife, which did some Judo in highschool, nobody in our family or social circle has any real martial arts background or experience whatsoever. There's so much I don't know and I have so many questions. That said, although I might not be knowledgeable, I'd like to think, or at least I hope, that I'm not ignorant.

There are many reasons why I leaned towards BJJ:
- Grappling, wrestling, and ground-fighting seems to be the universal subject that's taught in military, law enforcement, and self-defense circles (not just modern times, but ancient times as well).
- Skills and experience are acquired through engaging against another living human being (as opposed to say practicing endlessly on a punching bag at home).
- BJJ seems to be a good starting point for laying the foundations to becoming a more well-rounded combatant, should my sons choose to do so in the future.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not one of those A-type tiger parents that are trying to live vicariously through their children. My sons have already did the free trial classes and I've already had the discussion with them. I told them that they are NOT there to learn how to fight and they are NOT there to learn self-defense; they are there to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is a sport with rules. However, I also told them that BJJ experience can potentially help them out if they find themselves in physical conflict with another person. If, for whatever reason, they really wanted to become an effective fighter someday, that incorporates strikes, throws, weapons, etc., they'll already have some BJJ experience under their belt. I gave them the example of if two teens suddenly decided that they want to become professional soccer players some day, the teen that already has 3 years of track & field experience will be ahead of the game compared to the teen without any athletic background.

Sorry for the long read, but I might as well get this all out now to let everybody know where I stand. I'm all for kids developing their self-esteem and improving their social skills while participating in martial arts; however, at the end of the day, I'm also a pragmatist and a realist, so I might be asking questions that some people might find provocative or controversial. They would be questions that I don't feel comfortable asking my local martial arts gyms because of conflicts of interest.

I'll stop here to see what kind of reception I get before posting some of my questions. Please let me know if I'm completely off-base or out to lunch. Once again, I'm just a nobody that doesn't really know anything and very much hope to learn from this forum.

Thank you,
 

drop bear

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You will be right. Just ask the questions.
 

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Tony Dismukes

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Go ahead and ask your questions.

I will note in advance that a kids class for the 5-8 year old age range is likely to be more focused on games to develop fundamental skills and attributes than on developing serious fighting ability.
 

dunc

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I think that BJJ is very well suited to kids
They have a lot of fun, burn off loads of energy, make friends and learn a martial art at the same time
The only caveat is to make sure that you like the culture of the academy and are comfortable with the teachers there being role models for your kids as they develop
 

Holmejr

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My grandson was just shy of 9 when he started. He is 10 now. He loves his bjj class. Mostly fun melded with light techniques. Saturday is family day and Ive gotten the chance to roll around with my GS. Super fun! His bjj school sends the kids home with good character report that his grade school teach must sign. He is now 10 and moving up the ranks. Fair warning, If your child asks if you want to see his rear naked choke, just say no奸ol.
 

Unkogami

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At that age, start them in wrestling. They can continue through all their school years and gain an unequaled familiarity with grappling that can be applied to many, many things later. Many adults start learning BJJ and end up getting pretty good. An adult starting wrestling for the first time is very unlikely to ever get very good.
 

jayoliver00

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I told them that they are NOT there to learn how to fight and they are NOT there to learn self-defense; they are there to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is a sport with rules. However, I also told them that BJJ experience can potentially help them out if they find themselves in physical conflict with another person.

A simple choke that that they will be taught, is already a death move. Same simple tech for sport and life/death situations.

Spend the money and put them in Muay Thai also. Lots of BJJ kids at competition, start crying/bawling when they get accidentally slapped in the face by a slipped hand.
 

Buka

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Welcome to MartialTalk, Crosswind117.

Ask away with any specific questions you may have, lots of knowledge people in Martial Arts here. I don't think you need to worry about any chokes, I've never seen chokes taught to young kids in Bjj.

You seem to have a good head on your shoulders, I'm sure you'll probably watch some of the classes if you haven't already. Looking forward to you keeping us posted as to your children's progress.
 
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Crosswind117

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Wow, so happy that there's so many kind people active in these forums. Thank you!

Well, the very first question I have is the mundane topic of money, or more specifically bang-for-the buck. The BJJ gyms around my area have child memberships that average around $100 to $150 per month at about three 45-minute lessons per week; which is not that bad at about $9 to $13 per lesson assuming the kids have good attendance. Furthermore, assuming the kids stick to any type martial arts long enough, the skills and experience would become life-long and priceless. In other words, it'd be an investment that can't be lost or taken away as long as the practitioner is still sane and ambulatory.

That said, our household is not rich; and if all three sons were signed up, we're looking at $300 to $450 per month. Even if we only registered one child for martial arts, 3 years of experience will total around $3600 to $5400. This is no small amount of money for us and it's not even taking into account that we'd be using up a good portion of our sons' childhood in terms of time and energy spent training, preparing, commuting, etc.

Before some people think that I'm getting ahead of myself, I fully understand that a kid might decide to quit martial arts at any time and for whatever reason. However, even if a person doesn't want to be become a famous novelist, they should still learn how to speak, read, and write and if a person has no interest in becoming an Olympic swimmer, knowing how to swim at all can reduce your chances of drowning. If we do decide to commit to a martial arts gym, we'll be doing our best to encourage our kids to stick with it, at least long enough to hopefully derive some lasting benefits from experience.

Finally, onto my first question: If two average 8-year-old boys entered a new BJJ gym, one with 3 years of BJJ experience, and the other with no experience, how would they compare after spending one year at the gym together? Worded differently, roughly how long would it take for the boy with no experience to get on par with the boy with previous experience, assuming they have similar build, intelligence, and work ethic?

I would most like to hear from people that started BJJ when they were 5 or 8 years old, or know of people who have started at that age. The context of my question is that I have an 8-year-old son and a 5-year-old son. If I registered them both, how significant would those extra 3 years of BJJ be for my 5-year-old son? To put it bluntly, from a performance standpoint would those extra 3 years be worth the time and money? or should we just hold off on registering him until he also reaches age 8?

Please let me know of your experiences and appreciate any and all responses and advice.

Thank you kindly for taking the time to read this long post.
 

WaterGal

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I think you're overthinking this. Most kids at age 5 in martial arts are learning how to behave and listen and work cooperatively and develop their basic motor skills more than any actual fighting skills. All else being equal, your older kid will probably get more out of it. If you money's a concern and you want to have the younger one play soccer or t-ball or whatever for a few years first, that's not a terrible idea. I think anything that gets them physically active and learning social and motor skills is a good choice. Martial arts is one option, and one I personally like, but it's not the only one.
 

skribs

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I'm a TKD guy, not a BJJ guy, but a lot of the benefits apply across both arts. I've been teaching for around 8 years. The majority of my students are around 4-8 years old when they start.

Kids, especially in the 4-6 range, are primarily learning things like how to follow directions, how to be still and quiet when they need to, how to cooperate with their fellow students. At that age, they usually take longer to learn the techniques correctly, and progress slower than an 8-10 year old. However, by the time they are 8-10, they have 4 years of practice, and they've basically been doing martial arts as long as they can remember. It's as natural to them as walking and running.

Finances always come first. If you can't afford it, then you can't afford it. But the soonest you can get them in, the sooner they'll start learning. There's a saying: the best day to start was yesterday. The second-best day is today.
 

jayoliver00

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Finally, onto my first question: If two average 8-year-old boys entered a new BJJ gym, one with 3 years of BJJ experience, and the other with no experience, how would they compare after spending one year at the gym together? Worded differently, roughly how long would it take for the boy with no experience to get on par with the boy with previous experience, assuming they have similar build, intelligence, and work ethic?

The 3 years exp. boy will wreck the one with no exp. There's a lot of sparring at 80-100% in BJJ, which makes a huge difference. 2 months of training will easily beat most untrained people of similar size.

I would most like to hear from people that started BJJ when they were 5 or 8 years old, or know of people who have started at that age. The context of my question is that I have an 8-year-old son and a 5-year-old son. If I registered them both, how significant would those extra 3 years of BJJ be for my 5-year-old son? To put it bluntly, from a performance standpoint would those extra 3 years be worth the time and money? or should we just hold off on registering him until he also reaches age 8?

I know at least 20 kids who started BJJ at 4 or 5. At around 12-13, they start tapping most untrained, grown adult White belts (0-18 months) easily. 14-16 (puberty), they beat up to BJJ brown belts (maybe a Black belt). The Owner's kid at my school is only 16 and he's one of these kids; he doesn't always win the big tournaments neither....usually bronze, if any.

3 years is a huge, if your kid is decently serious.
 

skribs

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I'm reminded of a parent of some of my students. I started teaching almost 8 years ago. A few months into my tenure, there are two new little girls in class, who already have their yellow belt. My Master and his wife seemed to know them. It was really strange. Apparently they had trained for a bit in the past, and had just come back. They stayed for a few months, and then quit again.

The next year, they came back around the same time. Once again, they stayed for a few months and then quit. And again the next year. One day I talked to the Mom, and said they would probably progress a lot faster if they stayed in class for more than a few months.

She told me (and I'm paraphrasing) that she didn't want them to get their black belt too fast, so she was pacing them. I told her they could get their black belt, and then keep going in the black belt class and get 2nd or 3rd degree. They were a lot more regular after that. There were still periods where they took off for a while (for other reasons), but at least they didn't feel the need to artificially hold them back anymore.
 

AIKIKENJITSU

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Hello everybody,

This is my first post. I guess I'll first introduce myself to give readers some context, because I'm sure some people will ask follow-up questions before offering some answers.

I'm a dad with three sons, aged 8, 5, and 2. I'm considering signing up my two oldest sons for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Other than my wife, which did some Judo in highschool, nobody in our family or social circle has any real martial arts background or experience whatsoever. There's so much I don't know and I have so many questions. That said, although I might not be knowledgeable, I'd like to think, or at least I hope, that I'm not ignorant.

There are many reasons why I leaned towards BJJ:
- Grappling, wrestling, and ground-fighting seems to be the universal subject that's taught in military, law enforcement, and self-defense circles (not just modern times, but ancient times as well).
- Skills and experience are acquired through engaging against another living human being (as opposed to say practicing endlessly on a punching bag at home).
- BJJ seems to be a good starting point for laying the foundations to becoming a more well-rounded combatant, should my sons choose to do so in the future.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not one of those A-type tiger parents that are trying to live vicariously through their children. My sons have already did the free trial classes and I've already had the discussion with them. I told them that they are NOT there to learn how to fight and they are NOT there to learn self-defense; they are there to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is a sport with rules. However, I also told them that BJJ experience can potentially help them out if they find themselves in physical conflict with another person. If, for whatever reason, they really wanted to become an effective fighter someday, that incorporates strikes, throws, weapons, etc., they'll already have some BJJ experience under their belt. I gave them the example of if two teens suddenly decided that they want to become professional soccer players some day, the teen that already has 3 years of track & field experience will be ahead of the game compared to the teen without any athletic background.

Sorry for the long read, but I might as well get this all out now to let everybody know where I stand. I'm all for kids developing their self-esteem and improving their social skills while participating in martial arts; however, at the end of the day, I'm also a pragmatist and a realist, so I might be asking questions that some people might find provocative or controversial. They would be questions that I don't feel comfortable asking my local martial arts gyms because of conflicts of interest.

I'll stop here to see what kind of reception I get before posting some of my questions. Please let me know if I'm completely off-base or out to lunch. Once again, I'm just a nobody that doesn't really know anything and very much hope to learn from this forum.

Thank you,
Well I have taken Aikido, a couple of different striking arts and then I cam across American Kenpo, which I studied up to black belt. I then modified it and called it AKJ-American Kenpo. I don't believe of wrestling on the ground. There are so many negatives that could happen.
I am for learning enough ground techniques to help you quickly get up off the ground and back onto your feet. Being on the ground makes you vulnerable.
Sifu, Puyallup, WA
 
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Crosswind117

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Thanks everybody for all the illuminating responses! They're all valid and I'm glad that there are a variety of balanced opinions in this forum. :)

Well, we've talked about the "buck", now onto the "bang"...

In the distant past, combat skills, strategies, and training techniques were generally closely guarded secrets; schools and instructors had to choose carefully who they share their knowledge with, or else rivals or enemies could copy them and counter them. There was also the issue of not accepting prospective students that clearly had no talent or dedication, as it would be an inefficient use of their limited time and resources.

Nowadays, martial arts gyms are registered businesses. Some of gyms are primary sources of income for the owners, while others might be clubs where membership fees go directly towards keeping the gym running so that people have a place to train. In both cases, they'd want to acquire and retain as many members as they can get.

I have been burned by "paying for education" in the past, both as a minor and as an adult. At post-secondary, employers are only interested in the graduates that score in the top 20%, while the remaining students are merely "tuition fodder" to fund the schools.

As a parent with no combat experience whatsoever, and is likely to be at work and unavailable to watch my sons' martial arts lessons, how would I know if their skill level is improving at the normal rate? Month-by-month, year-by-year? For example, what if my son had little aptitude for martial arts and struggles to learn anything; and the instructor essentially gives up on him, but still reports that he's putting in good effort to make us feel good, and thus continue paying membership fees? On the other hand, what if my son was exceptional and was becoming proficient very quickly, but there was in influx of newbies and the instructor is forced to go through the basics once again, leaving the experienced students to stagnate?

I sure as hell don't have the guts to ask something like this to a martial arts instructor's face, so I hope there are forum members that can share their experiences and advice. I'm also sure that most martial arts gyms should have systems that deal with the above scenarios, but again, I'm a nobody that knows nothing, and I'm looking to this kind forum for enlightenment. :)

Thank you,
 

drop bear

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Thanks everybody for all the illuminating responses! They're all valid and I'm glad that there are a variety of balanced opinions in this forum. :)

Well, we've talked about the "buck", now onto the "bang"...

In the distant past, combat skills, strategies, and training techniques were generally closely guarded secrets; schools and instructors had to choose carefully who they share their knowledge with, or else rivals or enemies could copy them and counter them. There was also the issue of not accepting prospective students that clearly had no talent or dedication, as it would be an inefficient use of their limited time and resources.

Nowadays, martial arts gyms are registered businesses. Some of gyms are primary sources of income for the owners, while others might be clubs where membership fees go directly towards keeping the gym running so that people have a place to train. In both cases, they'd want to acquire and retain as many members as they can get.

I have been burned by "paying for education" in the past, both as a minor and as an adult. At post-secondary, employers are only interested in the graduates that score in the top 20%, while the remaining students are merely "tuition fodder" to fund the schools.

As a parent with no combat experience whatsoever, and is likely to be at work and unavailable to watch my sons' martial arts lessons, how would I know if their skill level is improving at the normal rate? Month-by-month, year-by-year? For example, what if my son had little aptitude for martial arts and struggles to learn anything; and the instructor essentially gives up on him, but still reports that he's putting in good effort to make us feel good, and thus continue paying membership fees? On the other hand, what if my son was exceptional and was becoming proficient very quickly, but there was in influx of newbies and the instructor is forced to go through the basics once again, leaving the experienced students to stagnate?

I sure as hell don't have the guts to ask something like this to a martial arts instructor's face, so I hope there are forum members that can share their experiences and advice. I'm also sure that most martial arts gyms should have systems that deal with the above scenarios, but again, I'm a nobody that knows nothing, and I'm looking to this kind forum for enlightenment. :)

Thank you,
Grappling will pretty much give you the most bang. Basically you can do it more often and you can do it with more intent without winding up with serious injuries all the time.

which means it will replicate at least part of fighting as closely as possible.

And BJJ is basically up there for high standard Grappling.

So if your kid turns up. Does what he is told, competes and commits to training. He will develop as good ability as he can get.

Basically if your kid is on the mats fighting people he should at some point develop the ability to do that well.

The combat sport method is pretty much the most consistent way to gain the ability to fight.
 

skribs

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Do you want your kids to do martial arts or not? You sound like you're trying to talk yourself out of enrolling them.

Often as a parent or student, it's hard to see progress, because progress is incremental. Also, parents sometimes have different expectations of the instructor. For example, some parents will tell beginners in a striking art like TKD or Karate that the kid needs to be faster and stronger, when as a beginner the goal is to learn proper form. Also, how much attention each kid needs depends on the kid. I know there are some students that do better with a lot of guidance, and others that do best when left alone to work things out. Giving those students extra attention actually hurts their progress, because it amps their nerves and they can't focus.

Who is bringing the kids to class? They should be able to stay and watch classes and see how the students are faring. If there's a lot of newcomers, then your kid will still learn. It's always good to go over the fundamentals. Helping newbies with fundamentals helps strengthen yours. Being able to teach something is a good measure that you know it. Of course, this is at least a few years down the road. Trust whoever is bringing them, whether it's your wife, or a nanny, aunt, etc.

Another way of seeing how they're doing is tournaments. Hopefully you can make it to those, as they are usually on weekends.

You should have a pretty good idea how the coaching is based on how the established students are when you show up. Are the other kids jerks or respectful? When a higher belt is rolling with a lower belt, does it appear one of the two is happening most of the time?
  1. The higher belt utterly smashes the lower belt
  2. The higher belt is having a much easier time and appears to be letting the lower belt get some meaningful practice in, but is obviously in complete control of the roll
The BJJ kid's belt system is White - Gray - Yellow - Orange - Green. If you see yellow and orange belts floundering against white belts, it probably means the school is crap. If you see yellow and orange belts look like a shark in the deep ocean, then the school is probably effective in teaching, and your kid would be no different.
 
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Crosswind117

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Thanks for the replies drop bear and skribs. I'm actually very keen on registering my kids for martials arts; it's because of my lack of experience and knowledge that I'm just fearful of registering them in the wrong place and possibly wasting their time and effort in the long run.

Competition is something that I can only hope that my kids develop a taste for, but it can't be forced. it'd be the best barometer for how well a student has internalized learned skills, but we'll have to wait and see if they'll even get that far.

My kids are currently scheduled to attend some trial lessons at another BJJ place this week and we'll see how things go there.

Speaking of which, we've talked about my desire to get my kids into martial arts, but what of the nature of the kids' desires? Are there any specific personality characteristics that kids have that would work for or against them entering martial arts?

My two oldest sons are essentially opposites of each other. My oldest, 8-year-old son, is essentially like Bart Simpson, but with Lisa's book-smarts. He's popular at school, but also overweight and timid, if you can imagine that combination. When I signed him up for his first trial class he said that he was worried about getting his *** kicked, and I told him that's precisely why you need to attend these classes, lol.

My 5-year-old son is a slow-learner, didn't speak his first words until 3-years-old, and still struggles to communicate with classmates. On the other hand, he always has a positive attitude, a thick skin that takes physical and verbal hits, and is more athletically-inclined. He's also very kind and considerate, which combined with his poor speaking skills, made him a easy target for bullying and teasing. When he went through his first trial class, he totally fit right in, pretty much smiling from ear-to-ear for the entire class. If only the logistics lined up better I would have sign him up already.

For my above two sons, would they be considered typical or are there any issues that need to be dealt with before joining a martial arts gym?

Please let me know if anybody else has similar stories or advice to share.

Thank you,
 
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