Why My kids Train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
(and it’s not what you think…)
There are a lot of reasons why I have my kids enrolled in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I could tell you it’s because I myself teach BJJ, or because it’s great exercise, or for self-defense, or for any number of excellent reasons why kids should take up BJJ (or wrestling, or judo, or any of the grappling sports for that matter). But the main reason is this:
I want my children to learn how to manage conflict.
These days, our schools do everything they can to eliminate conflict between students. They teach our kids that fighting isn’t allowed, that they should all get along, and that they should come to a teacher for help if someone is being aggressive. This with the very best of intentions.
But if our kids aren’t allowed to handle conflict on their own, how are they ever supposed to get good at handling conflict? And, as importantly, how are they supposed to grow up to be adults who can skillfully and healthily navigate workplace and personal conflicts?
Bullying isn’t as simple as that one person, child or adult, is a bully. It’s that one person is abusing the conflict at the expense of the other. And the ‘victim’ is in large part also mishandling the situation, quite often because at some level they’re afraid not only of the so-called bully but of conflict itself. If you’ve ever felt intimidated by an abusive co-worker, you’ll likely have some idea of what I’m talking about.
But imagine if you had both the confidence and skills to effectively manage conflict? How much easier and better would life be if you were that little bit better at standing up for yourself to that salesperson to get a better deal? To your boss to get that promotion for which you’re long overdue? To your significant other that, while you care for them, has fallen bit by bit into the habit of speaking to you in a way that isn’t acceptable?
That’s what’s lacking in how we’re raising our kids these days. By not equipping them to deal with conflict, by sheltering them too much from conflict, we’re robbing them of the opportunity to master conflict.
Learning how to wrestle is intimidating for a child. Competing in a judo tournament is scary for a child. But over time, through practice, children learn that the can overcome these challenges. Grappling classes slowly, incrementally, and in a safe environment, expose children to situations where someone is actively trying to overcome them physically. Kids learn to get comfortable in those situations. Then they go and compete, where there’s a bit more pressure. And very often they lose – which is when they learn that losing isn’t the end of the world. That they can take lessons from that encounter and apply them to the next competition.
They come away not only knowing they can handle themselves physically (an invaluable tool), but that they can approach, embrace and master conflict itself. This, more than anything else, is the gift that grappling gives our children.
You want strong, confident kids who’ll become strong, confident adults? Give them the gift of grappling.