Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Youth Self-Defense
Grappling or Striking?
When considering Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Youth Self-Defense, parents can determine the ‘grappling or striking” question by asking themselves this:
“What is the main goal you have in mind for your child?”
Self-Defense application: This is the main reason why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other grappling arts are excellent for youth self-defense. There is a drastic difference between defending yourself and striking or applying force to cause harm to another human being, and having the wherewithal to know the difference.
Applicable knowledge is achieved through ‘positional sparring’ and direct coaching. Creating a situation in a controlled environment allows for functional application and cognitive development of the material. Students learn and practice how to assess their situation, take step needed to change their conditions, and maneuvers in order to maintain a controlled and dominant position. Being able to control an attacker is much more dominating and functional than trying to punch or kick them. It allows for complete control over their own personal safety, as well as the physical restraint of his or her attacker until the situation can be defused.
Is it important to know how to strike?
Absolutely. Being able to strike properly, defend against strikes, and even have the fortitude to take a hit, are important skills in self-defense and combative training. The issue is having the wherewithal to know when it is acceptable to strike another person with the intent of harm.
As adults we are aware of certain repercussions that can arise from injuring an individual during a physical alternation. Children are not as aware of these issues. The argument can be made that children do not have the power to cause any real harm with a strike or kick, but that really isn’t the point. It’s about setting a strong foundation for personal security and applicable knowledge. Self-defense is not about hurting others, but about protecting oneself.
Being able to have the functional knowledge and ability to apply your skills in a real life situation is the ultimate goal of why we invest our time and money into a ‘self-defense’ program for our children.
Situational Awareness and Functional Application
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is based on functional application of body weight and leverage. The goal of BJJ is to take the fight to the ground and control the situation with superior positioning. BJJ practitioners learn how to utilize their body weight in a manner, which allows them to maintain a dominant ground position over their partner or attacker. Once the position is established and maintained, the practitioner can simply hold their attacker in a weaker position until the situation is defused. If the situation calls for it, they can render the attacker unconscious from a choke ( triangle choke or cross choke), or if necessary, end the fight by utilizing a joint submission, (an armbar or leg lock).
When to use their skills?
This issue will be addressed in further detail in Part 2, but here is the short answer: Unfortunately, this does get confusing to the students and children because they are being taught a skill but then, all to often, are not being told when it is acceptable and unacceptable to utilize their abilities. This is exactly where coaches and parents need to be extremely clear. This is where the role of a coach ends and the parental role needs to take the lead, since each household has their own core values.
Martial Arts have various benefits for the participants that can improve their lives in countless ways. So try not to get caught up on which art or sport is best. Try to focus on what your goals are and go from there. Here is another great article about some life lessons everybody can learn from training.