What babies can teach us about our BJJ game

babies doing BJJ

Now, I’m no expert on babies, but I’ve spent a fair bit of time over the past couple months observing my newborn daughter. The way she moves, and the strength that her little tiny legs can generate when she wants to is absolutely amazing!

Great, but what the heck does this have to do with my Jiu-Jitsu training? I’m not going to learn any new submissions from a two-month old baby, am I? Well, technically no, but if you observe just exactly how they generate force, then apply it to your own, developed body, you may just find a way to become more proficient at the gentle art.

First; the arms. Watch how infants use their arms. They don’t really know what the hell to do with them, and end up flailing them around, scratching themselves in the face. Sort of like a white belt might do. Sure, your arms are great for framing which is critical in BJJ, but besides that, they really aren’t too useful. Truth be told, your arms in BJJ are more of a liability than they are an asset. It’s all too easy to get caught in an armlock the moment you move your elbows too far away from your body.

One thing that babies do well with their arms, however, is keeping the elbows in tight. They glue them to their ribcage, making it nearly impossible to straighten their arms out. Babies are great at this, and we highly recommend that you follow suit!

Next, observe the legs. Babies love to keep their knees up and tight to their body while on their backs. They learn almost immediately that they can generate a significant amount of force by kicking, and this is exactly what we should be doing! It’s intuitive to a baby, and yet takes most BJJ practitioners until generally around purple belt to really figure this out. BJJ newbies want to push with their arms, like they’re in a bench press competition!

When you’re on your back, your legs should be bent at 90 degrees, just like a baby, and NEVER straight out, except in very rare circumstances. What happens when you’re playing guard and you do straighten your legs out? You get passed, or worse yet, caught in a leglock!

If you ever have the chance, do yourself a favor and watch how a newborn moves. Adapt these instinctive principles to your game, and I guarantee that your Jiu-Jitsu game will improve as a result!

 

Chris Stepchuk

May 13, 2018

 

What age is the perfect age to start my kids in BJJ?

Wonder Woman kids leggings spats and rash guard stance 1Batman The Killing Joke Adult Black BJJ Gi front full body open 3

I get asked this question a lot from my friends who have kids;

When should I start my kid in martial arts training? Is Jiu-Jitsu the right thing to get my kids into, or should I start with Tae Kwon Do, Karate, or even Judo?

 

Of course, like all things in life, it will really depend on the circumstances, but in general, I would say that around 6 is probably the right age. Once they are in grade 1, they are used to the structure that surrounds school, and likely have the discipline to follow that structure.

 

A couple factors to think about;

  1. Do they have the discipline to sit through a one-hour Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lesson and listen to instruction/ feedback for that length of time? If not, it’s going to be a struggle, and you may want to wait an extra year to enroll them.
  2. Is there a school near my house or their school? This is very important, because if it’s inconvenient for you to get them there, you as the parent likely won’t be able to get them to class on a consistent basis.
  3. Do they have any friends or other kids that they know in the BJJ class? Starting out, this may be important motivation to get them there. Over time they will develop new relationships and friends at the club, and this likely won’t be as important to them.
  4. Does the Kids BJJ class have enough instructors to handle all of the kids in the class? Are the instructors patient, and good with kids? Teaching a bunch of kids is no easy task, and demands a tremendous amount of patience.
  5. Fun! I can’t stress this one enough! Is my kid having fun with BJJ? If they aren’t, then the likelihood is that they won’t stick with it long term. Make sure that they are enjoying themselves first and foremost, and BJJ will soon become a lifestyle for them, rather than something that their parents force them to do.

Hopefully these points give you some good food for thought when thinking about enrolling your kids into their first BJJ class! Whether you start them out at 5, 6, or even 10, remember that the key is to make it something they enjoy so that they keep doing it well past their teens and into their adult lives!

Chris Stepchuk

March 31, 2018