The best time to start BJJ was 20 years ago. The other best time is now. What this means is that you can always get into BJJ, regardless of age. As adults, we can easily adjust BJJ to fit our advantages and limitations. However, what happens with kids? Surely, there’s has to be an age that is optimal for kids to start Jiu-Jitsu? The answer is yes, there is. However, it is much more complicated than that. Thankfully, Jiu-Jitsu has complete programs and dedicated classes that help little ids become little champions. You can use this article as a guide to determine where your kid fits according to age. From there on, let the coaches handle your kids grappling future!
The earlier the better is not necessarily a good thing when it comes to physical training. Yes, children need to be active, but unlike adults, they require very specific ways of physical engagement. Growth is a natural process that can easily be messed up if you’re not careful. It is not only about the right sport, but more importantly, the right age for your kid to start Jiu-Jitsu. Worry not, the art is perfect for childer of different ages, all you need to know is exactly where they fit, spot you can seek out the best Academy that has a group which fits their age.
Kids In BJJ
In the Gracie Barra affiliate academy I train and teach at, I am one of the coaches in charge of the kid’s group. I’ve been training children for the better part of a decade, so I know and understand what I am doing. As such, I’m also in a great position to notice how children’s development has shifted (negatively, unfortunately) during that time. I’m also in a great position to do something about it, thanks to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
When I was growing up, e spent most of our time outside. I didn’t have a computer at home until I was almost done with primary school. Even then, it was not something that really managed to kept me in. Instead, we climbed trees, rooftops, played ball, ran, sometimes fought, etc. We did what kids are intended to do when growing up – discover how our bodies work. Back then, starting any sport was not hard since we already knew how to move.
Nowadays, kids consider tablets and computers the norm, and going outside to play is the exception. Apart from being unnatural, this really hampers kid’s physical development. It may not be obvious on a daily basis, but if you ask a kid to do something that requires just a tiny bit of coordination, you’ll see what I mean. Ask your kid to do jumping jack and then ask them to do bear crawls or crab walks. If they can do it, you’ve done a great job helping their growth as is intended.
Unfortunately, this is not reality. Kids that come into class have less and less coordination and the ability to move naturally. BJJ is a great way to remedy this, but you can’t do it too early. Age is of crucial importance for kids that start Jiu-Jitsu.
When Should Kids Start Jiu-Jitsu?
The answer here is not as precise as just offering one number. Instead, it is all about categories. The thing is that if you start your kid too early, you’ll achieve a completely opposite effect. Getting a kid in any physical activity before they’re at least four (preferably five) more often than not causes kids to develop an aversion towards sports in general. At this point in time they do not have the attention span, nor necessary bodily coordination to train something as complex as BJJ. Conversely, you also shouldn’t wait too long either.
Unlike any other martial art, Jiu-Jitsu has a very clear, precise, and efficient system when it comes to kids’ classes. Kids that start Jiu-Jitsu, ideally get the option to start in one of three groups. Children aged 5-7 should be in one group, with classes not exceeding 30 minutes. this is the maximum amount of time they can stay interested and walk away with knowledge they can retain. Kids between 8-12 need a group of their own. 45 – 60 minutes is the sweet spot here, and classes have different focus points than those for younger children. Finally, teenagers younger than 16 also need their own group, as they’re not really kids anymore, but aren’t exactly adults either. Once again, classes need to reflect on their mental and physical needs.
Most BJ Jacademies do offer all of these options. As long as your kid fits the minimum age requirement and wants to keep going after a few classes, you’ve hit the jackpot! If such classes are not available, it may be better to wait until the kid is older than to force them into a class not fit for their age. Or, you could consider enrolling the min a mixed age group under certain conditions.
Mixed Age Groups
Mixed-age kids BJJ classes can also be an effective option. Of course, having a kid start Jiu-JItsu in a class specific to their age is always the best idea. however, if that’s not available, academies often offer kids classes that include children aged 4-12. This is a huge difference in age. A kid of 4 and a kid of 12 do not have nearly the same cognitive or physical abilities. However, there’s a way to make such classes work.
Тhis is where instructors come in. First up, you need skilled and possibly, certified instructors. However, experience working with kids is much more important than any certificate. Next up, if any mixed age group is to work, it has to feature at the very least three, and possibly more instructors. Essentially it should come down to at least one instructor per age category.
In such an instance, mixed-age groups can work really well. Older kids get to act as role models and younger kids get to see what lies ahead. They can do the warm-up and general movement together and divide into specific groups later on. It is a tried and tested way that yields results. In fact, it is the only way of making a mixed age group works.
The most important thing to remember is that your kids need to start Jiu-Jitsu. At which point, and in which group is down to you. If you have the option to start a child in a young age group, please consider doing so. If not, at the very least, get your kid to try BJJ around 7-8 years old. It is going to do wonders for their development and might even turn into something they really love doing later on!