So, you’re considering training your teens in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – BJJ? One of the best decisions you will make for your teen. You know, raising teenagers is hard going! They can be moody, temperamental, argumentative and they definitely know more than you! Emotions become fickle, and flighty. You’ll find some teens to be disciplined and some teens that aren’t, whether it be in their school life or relationally. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can help teens in more ways than just learning a martial art or self-defence. Let me tell you how, from my personal experience with teens at our own BJJ gym C2 Martial Arts (C2MA), in Perth.
When teens learn BJJ at C2MA they need to work with their strengths. Crimson Cruz, the head coach and a black belt, always tells his students, “If you’re slim, use speed. If you are rounder use your weight.” This statement alone, helps our teens feel less self-conscious of their body. They build their confidence and work with what they have been given, they don’t see their body as a hinderance. The truth is, every teen that does BJJ, has a different body shape. Small, tall, slim, rounder. We were all made differently. A smaller person shouldn’t be intimidated by the bigger guy, and a bigger guy, shouldn’t be intimidated by the faster guy. We have found over the years, our teen students gain their confidence to excel, regardless of their own opinion of themselves or their body shape. As they journey though their BJJ journey, they become more comfortable and reassured that their body is an effective weapon, so they become content in their own skin.
When your teens start training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu consistently, BJJ will help your teen regulate their weight and helps promote healthy bone growth and also helps increase muscle tone. We’ve had some of our students not be able to write for prolonged periods of time due to weak muscles. The dreaded essay writeups requiring hours of writing, but their ability to write for hours significantly changed when they started training at our academy. This is because the muscles strengthened over time.
BJJ can be a high intensity sport, depending on how much effort is put into training. However, like with any sport, a teen’s fitness naturally improves and so does their coordination. While a teenager’s commitment to BJJ training varies, exercising lowers the risk of many diseases because they’re moving their body at varying intensities, increasing their heartrate and fitness. The truth is, most diseases survive in bodies that lack good nutrition and lack exercise. When they train BJJ, they usually crave a healthier lifestyle, especially when they can’t keep up with their opponents. They learn that meddling with drugs and alcohol affects their BJJ game, therefore they limit their intake or abstain completely. Teens usually crave a healthier lifestyle and they encourage each other to make good choices.
Teenagers who train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is guaranteed to increase mood, confidence, self-esteem, and may even help or treat depression. Why you ask? Because the truth is, when you’re being grappled on the mats, you don’t think about the day’s stresses, the fight you had with your friend at school, or the disagreement with your parents. They are living in the moment, because they are fighting for a tap, to avoid being submitted by their opponent. This requires them to stop, think about what they are doing and counter their opponents move. They don’t have time to think about their personal problems, the only problem right now is survival. BJJ is like human chess. It takes time to put the puzzle pieces together, it requires problem solving. That’s why it takes years to go through the belt system. Even though Crimson is a black belt, he still learns new BJJ moves every day. There are standard moves which most students will learn early on, but refining those moves using leverage is what differentiates a white belt from a black belt.
Emotions – everyone feels the same
When a teens train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, every training session is different and requires different skills and abilities. So, when they train at our academy, they will win some grapples and lose some, being forced to tap. Sometimes when a teen comes to BJJ they feel like they are in control and other days when they feel like they are losing control, as they are being dominated by their opponent. The same is apparent in life, life can be full of highs and lows, accepting disappointments takes time. Someone gets the job over you or someone gets better grades than you. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t lose, but learn. When you get submitted and you are forced to tap, you learn to deal with BIG emotions. Teens haven’t always got the ability to control their emotions that well yet, especially with the dreaded hormones, but over time they learn to adjust their heart and attitude and grow interpersonally, when dealing with these emotions.
Outbursts and temper and personal growth
A BJJ teen overtime transitions from raging anger to respecting their opponent, because their opponent becomes their best teacher. We’ve had some students swear and cuss when they’ve been tapped out. This doesn’t fly at our gym. We don’t allow our students to act in that manner when they are frustrated. This forces a teen to find a different way to cope with these big emotions. Rarely they cry, some students go quiet and other students who have developed maturity with more training time, will usually praise their partners for tapping them. Teens become humble and modest. They learn to clap for others and be happy for others when they win. Of course, this requires a change of perspective and attitude. They learn to become good submitters. Teens learn quickly that there is always someone stronger or faster than them. We aren’t all the same and their opponents have different skills and abilities. BJJ teaches teens to accept their fate, the good and the challenges. When a teen’s perception changes, their opponent isn’t seen as an enemy but someone who develops their game to a new level because unless they get caught in the position and ask questions, they won’t learn how to escape. As a teen training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, their interpersonal skills develop which transitions into their adult life, as they are forced to communicate with their fellow students in those moments of frustration. BJJ encourages a teenager over time, to respond to life and its highs and lows in the same way they respond to their opponents when a teen trains in BJJ.
Confidence – Especially in BJJ Competitions
When teens do competitions and grapple with other students from different academies, it becomes a good gauge of their ability too. Many times, teens cry due to adrenalin in BJJ competitions. Parents supporting their teen will often record the match, when they look back on the video, they can see the flaws and mistakes they made. It becomes an opportunity for a teenager to self-reflect on their BJJ game. Experiencing anger can be reactional but over time a teen will become accepting and use their shortfalls and these moments as an opportunity to grow. They will avoid being caught in the same position when they free flow next time. They learn to be courageous as they grapple with other students who have more ability or training time on them. Integrity becomes part of their character as a teen learns to be honest with themselves and their abilities.
Levelling up – Adult BJJ classes
We have many teen BJJ students that train with adults, we encourage this to build their confidence even more, especially when they are strong or their skills are sharp. The truth is, even though Crimson is a black belt, he still gets submitted by lower belts at times. Partly because he’s not putting in as much effort as the lower belt, to boost their confidence and let them tap him, other times, it is because he gets caught in a compromising position and struggles to escape, especially against heavier guys. It’s always a good feeling when you submit a person that is a higher belt than you right? A teen will learn that arrogance isn’t appealing, bragging about winning makes you look like you are egotistical, so teens learn to become humble winners too. As a teen matures interpersonally, ego’s are left at the door, whether they win or lose. BJJ, like life, is a journey. Teens learn to be more self-controlled in their lives overall because of the values they learnt on the mats at our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy.
Teens can be rather awkward, as they may feel out of place or maybe they haven’t made any friends at school. Our BJJ teens class removes all awkwardness with the friendships that they make on the mats. This is done through connections, banter and fun. Students are encouraged to be friendly and welcoming. Every time a new student comes into our academy, they get a feeling they belong. Their opponents create an environment where there is a sense of community. They mentor each other and teach each other how to behave, through experience and though the closeness of friendship. We have had teenagers start training at our academy because they couldn’t harness their anger and were constantly in fights at school. Over time, because our student knows how to defend himself, using self-defence, they’ve learned at C2MA, they have a quiet confidence. The students that were once arrogant, walks away from fights. We’ve had some of our students training together at our dojo, encourage another teen to walk away from a fight when a situation gets heated at school. They encourage each other and want the best for each other. BJJ teaches our teen students to be a loyal friend. BJJ at all levels, requires students to be in close proximity to each other because they are grappling. This closeness removes the feeling of awkwardness.
BJJ Belts System
As a teen progresses through the bjj belts, they become more secure in themselves. They feel proud every time they level up. Every BJJ belt for a teen is a new sense of achievement. It’s like getting promoted in a company, except they’ve worked hard for their belt.
Kids belts up until the age of 16 goes as follows:
At any stage when a teen turns 16, regardless of what belt they are up to, they go to white belt adult or blue blet juvenile (under 18) at discretion of the professor. This brings a whole new level of thinking, mental strength and and challenges. Where they once trained with kids, they’re moving into a whole new level of self-discovery, tenacity and character building.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu otherwise known as BJJ, is a self-defence targeted at kids, teens and adults! As discussed in this article, the way it helps teens develop emotionally, mentally, socially and physically is so evident and comforting to a parent who struggles with their developing teen as they transition into adulthood. Free trial at C2MA in the norther suburbs in Perth (5 Minutes from Joondalup), for all new members.