From rich to poor, from featherweight to heavyweight, from bullies to victims, from aggressive to passive, I have watched students from all walks of life come through the doors of my schools in Southern California. Many times it is the parents that are at their wits end looking for a sport for their children, who are either performing poorly in school, struggling with behavioral challenges such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or do not enjoy traditional organized sports.
There are two things I explain to parents. The first is that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is not a miracle drug. It’s a program designed to shape young minds over a period of time. Through hard work, dedication, passion and pride they will develop character traits that will be with them for the rest of their lives. Instilling self-confidence, self-control, integrity, discipline, focus, and memorization in students is far more important to me than teaching a proper arm-bar technique, although it does get my blood flowing!
Like so many things in our society, parents assume that after enrolling their child into a school they will see an overnight change in their child’s behavior. I can not reiterate enough to those concerned parents that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an activity that requires an investment and commitment from both the children and their PARENTS. I often use the example of farming to explain the growth process to parents. The hard work day after day for months and maybe even years leading up to the harvest will determine how successful the crop will be.
The second thing I talk to parents about is how a student progresses within Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the role of parents, masters, and instructors during the participation of organized competition. The competition gives students an opportunity to test their skills, which measures their progress both personally and technically. I remind parents that participating in a tournament is a privilege and should be a reward for their child’s dedication to their daily household chores, school work, and proper behavior including how they conduct themselves during their jiu-jitsu training.
The most important thing to remember is that whether a kid wins or loses, tournaments are a demonstration of the student’s integrity, self-control and courage that they learn from their training and their role models. Masters and instructors all want their students to win as much as their parents do, however not every student will win first place. The way we respond to adversity during competition is as important as the competition itself.
Do you as a parent and/or coach blame the referee or tournament director when your child or student doesn't win or do you adhere to the code of conduct that is instilled in students everyday? Being a positive example to your children or students and rising up to meet the next challenge will have a greater positive impact on the student’s progression within Brazilian jiu-jitsu than losing self-control, getting angry, and loudly placing blame.
There is no secret to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It is a wonderful and fun sport that requires hard work, dedication, passion and pride. It can be a very positive answer to parents reaching out for help as long each of us sets an example and adheres to the high fundamental personal values and standards of behavior of this tremendous art that is enjoyed by so many.
Carlos and Helio took the art of jiu-jitsu and changed it from its formal Japanese style and turned it into an art that could win street fights common in Brazil. The Gracie brothers turned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into the best ground fighting system ever created.
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