The Best Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Curriculum: What Kids Should Be Doing in The Gym
Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu is an increasingly popular choice among parents as an extracurricular activity for their kids. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a wide age range of participation – many kids start as young as age 4, and adults can continue practicing it or even start to pick it up in their retirement years. Because of this wide age range, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu course should be specifically tailored to the demographic of the class: 4 and 5 year-old children will not get the same benefits from a class designed for adults, and vice versa.
What is the best kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu curriculum? An ideal kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu course is mostly made up of drills and games that teach the basics of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, with very little unstructured time.
There are lots of choices of drills, games, and other structured activities that will help kids pay attention, have fun, and learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu effectively. Below, we’ll describe some great components of a kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, as well as the benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for children.
Essential Components of Any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Curriculum
There are some components of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu curriculum that are absolutely essential, no matter the age of your students. Without any of these core components, your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu curriculum will be incomplete and less effective. The core parts of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu curriculum, include:
- Teaching and practicing basic principles
- Learning takedown techniques
- Learning ground techniques
- A unifying and overarching theme
A Continuous Focus on The Basics
There are a lot of basic skills required to be successful at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, other than actual moves. These basics include everything from having the proper mindset while practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to perfecting form. It is essential to continuously enforce these basics, not just in the first introductory class of a course. Basics to focus on throughout a curriculum include:
- Proper breathing
- Remaining relaxed and calm during training
- Proper grip form
Breathing correctly while practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is essential to concentration and delivering precise, deliberate movements. It is very important to continuously teach your students to breath properly, taking long inhales and exhales rather than gasping or panting. This is something that is perfected only through practice, and will increase your students’ ability to learn and perform Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
2.Remaining relaxed and calm during training
Hand-in-hand with proper breathing, remaining calm and relaxed while training and competing are very important to the fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Having a clear mind is essential – moves should not be delivered out of desperation or without calculation. Without the ability to relax and stay calm, your students will not advance very far in.
3.Proper Grip Form
An essential skill for success in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is proper grip. Grip strength relies on muscles in your hands and forearms, which means that you must practice it consistently over time to improve. To improve your grip strength, it should be focused on regularly in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu curriculum. Apart from grip strength, there is a technique to grip as well to prevent your hands and arms from becoming fatigued. This is something that can also only be improved with practice.
Much of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu takes place on the ground, but to reach that point in a match, you must be able to get your opponent there. Throws and takedowns are an essential, but sometimes overlooked aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Make sure to include these skills so students get a thorough knowledge of how to spar with an opponent or defend themselves in a real-life situation.
Teaching takedown techniques typically includes:
- Footwork lessons
- Perfecting grip technique
- Building grip strength
- Strategic movement
If you’re teaching kids takedown techniques, be sure to keep the moves simple.
This is the foundation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a martial art. Much of the practice involves on the ground moves, and therefore ground techniques are typically the emphasis of any lesson. Teaching ground techniques should be balanced with the above skills for a holistic approach to teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Basic ground techniques can be the foundation for more complex techniques. Teaching kids simple ground techniques is the best approach, as they will be simple enough to learn and will help them as they progress in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as they get older. Some of the basic techniques include:
A Contextual Approach
Many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu courses follow an unstructured format, where each week’s class does not correspond to the weeks before or after it. The instructor may focus on a single move that is isolated from the other moves that have been learned. Alternatively, a well-structured Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu curriculum enforces a theme throughout the length of the course and ensures that each individual class builds on the next. This ensures that the students get the most out of the course and are able to better apply what they have learned.
Creating A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Curriculum for Kids
We’ve gone over the essential components of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu curriculum for any age, but there are some ways you can tailor a curriculum to be more kid friendly. When teaching children, the main obstacles you will encounter are:
- keeping their attention
- accounting for a large variation in size and physical ability
- delivering a lesson that the kids will retain.
To account for these hurdles, creating a curriculum that focuses on the basics and aims to deliver some core values is an excellent approach. Don’t become overly ambitious with how many technical skills you will be able to teach a kid’s class.
Teaching Kids the Basics of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Using Drills in a Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Curriculum
This is where drills become extremely useful. These can be used to warm up and break up a very technical lesson to prevent kids from becoming bored. Some common drills are:
- Animal Drills: These are frequently used to build strength and coordination, but can be a way for kids to get their goofiness out during class. These drills involve walking like different kinds of animals. This can nourish kids’ imaginations while building the physical strength and coordination needed to be successful in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
- Movement Drills: These drills are more focused on teaching specific Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques, rather than just building underlying skills. These can include drills to teach gripping, foot sweeping, takedowns, and ground techniques
When developing a kids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu curriculum, incorporate drills into each lesson, but schedule the drills to build on each other. For example, make sure to introduce drills that improve grip strength before drills that teach ground technique – as ground techniques require proper gripping.
Using Games in a Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Curriculum
Much like drills, games can teach the basics of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu without being overly technical or boring. Typically games are even less technical than drills are, and are more focused on having fun than learning new skills. Games can be used in a curriculum as an award or a motivator for a class – they are often scheduled as the first and last activity of the lesson for the kids. Often, these games are things that the kids are already familiar with outside of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and are just slightly modified to reinforce a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skill. Some commonly played games in kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes include:
- Races: Having your students race while in a crab-walking position is a common game, as this builds up strength and coordination.
- Sharks and Minnows: Like any other game of sharks and minnows, but the shark must get the minnows to a submit position before they reach the other side of the mat
- Tag: There are a lot of variations of tag used in kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes. You can have kids try to tag a specific body part (often a knee or toes) while using their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu moves. You can also have the kids loosely tie their belt around their waist, and have the kids try to grab the belts off of each other. This helps work on control and grip.
Teaching Core Values to Kids Through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Martial arts in general are highly valued for their integration of physical activity with important core philosophical values. This can make martial arts, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, more beneficial than team or individual sports for children who are cognitively developing. Core values taught through a typical Brazilian Jiu Jitsu curriculum include:
Teaching Discipline Through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires paying close attention to your instructor and following very specific, detailed instructions. Often, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills are taught through intense repetition. Kids learn that they must continuously practice in order to improve. Discipline is an important lesson that can help kids:
- Adhere to rules
- Attain goals
- Follow instructions
Be sure to encourage discipline in your curriculum by practicing repetition, even with seemingly simple techniques. Make sure to push your students to achieve to the best of their ability, without being overly demanding or critical.
Teaching Respect Through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
A vital part of most martial arts is respecting your instructor. This tradition is a result of the origin of martial arts in China and Japan, where respect is a cornerstone of the culture. Kids are taught to respect their instructor no matter how frustrated they may get by the lesson. Once taught and exercised, this value will lead to increased respect and obedience toward authority figures, something many young children struggle with.
Teaching Perseverance Through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Working hard to achieve a goal is one of the most rewarding parts of life. Teaching children about the value of hard work will affect them long-term, and encourage them to persevere in difficult situations. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu involves very specific goals and skills – and these skills take a long time and a lot of practice to perfect.
Be sure to encourage perseverance in your curriculum by setting clear goals and rewarding the kids’ achievements. When they become discouraged or frustrated, encourage them to continue and not to give up.
Structuring a Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Curriculum and Individual Classes
Keeping a structured curriculum and class is key. Many adult classes have time scheduled for sparring, or free practice, where the student can work on whatever they’d like to work on. This is a disaster for small children as they easily become distracted and often lack the discipline to do what they are supposed to when not strictly monitored or instructed. Be sure to build your class around drills games, and technical instruction rather than free time. With very young children, be sure to always keep them under close supervision during thee drills and games, as well.
Another essential principle to keep in mind when teaching a kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class is to keep things fun! Making Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a fun experience for your students will encourage them to pay attention, participate, and retain what they are taught. The lessons should also be kept short and sweet so as not to lose your students’ attention. When your students are having fun in your BJJ classes, it encourages them to be excited for each class, and gives you a better chance of getting their full attention.
The Benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Kids:
When you enroll your child in any extracurricular activity, you want to be sure it will nourish their development and provide some long-lasting beneficial impacts on their health and their behavior. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can provide a wide range of benefits, including:
- Physical Benefits
- Cognitive Benefits
- Social Benefits
Physical Benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Kids
Children begin large-muscle development around age 3-5, which is a common age to begin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. At this age, kids are beginning to:
- Perform other physical activities
At age 3-5, kids are doing the physical activities that they didn’t have the balance or strength for from ages 1-3. This age is where skills such as balance and coordination improve drastically and set up a foundation for an active lifestyle.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu requires very precise and coordinated movements. These movements require:
When a child uses these skills on a regular basis, such as in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, they are developing abilities that they will depend on as they get older. Additionally, when children perform physical activities that require concentration, blood flow in the brain is increased, which supports cognitive development.
Cognitive Benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Kids
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is frequently thought of primarily as a source of physical activity, but there are many cognitive benefits, especially for children. As mentioned above, the movements used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are often very precise and require a lot of concentration. As such, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can improve concentration and focus in children. Through their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes, kids learn that they have to pay attention in order to be successful, as they must rely on their instructor to give them very detailed instructions.
These are excellent skills for children to learn at a young age and can improve their behavior at home and at school. Many kids struggle to focus in the classroom – giving them the opportunity to exercise their focus on a regular basis in an enjoyable environment can mitigate this.
Participating in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can also give kids a sense of pride and purpose. Learning new skills is exciting, and kids are frequently rewarded for their improvements through earning belts. Being rewarded for an accomplishment can improve a child’s confidence and in turn, lead them to put more focus and effort into the task for which they are being rewarded.
Social Benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Kids
Another motivation for parents to enroll their child in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class is for social interaction. There are lots of social benefits to enrolling your child in an activity apart from school. In addition to being exposed to a new group of people, children enrolled in a BJJ class will get additional experience in:
- Interacting with other children and adults
- Making friends
- Cooperating with one another
These are vital skills for children to learn early on in life. Social skills are extremely important for development, and the exercise of these skills early in life can shape a child’s adolescent and adult relationships.
In a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, a group of children around the same age will share the same tasks, frustrations, and achievements, which are all bonding experiences. There are additionally components of some curriculums that include working with a partner, which definitely develops a child’s social and cooperative skills. Sparring to practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques also teaches children about physical interactions with others – it can teach them to be gentle with others to avoid hurting someone or teach them how to defend themselves if they are in a physical altercation.