What Parents Should Know Before Signing Their Kids Up For Jiu-Jitsu

The social skills children learn in their BJJ class help them to learn to fit in better in school.

Getting your child started in jiu-jitsu can help them gain confidence, healthy habits, and of course, practical skills that they can use to defend themselves. Like any sport, though, jiu-jitsu requires some preparation, and it helps to know what your child will need before they step on the mats.

As a parent, here are some of the things you should do to ensure that your child gets the most out of their jiu-jitsu experience:

1. Let your child’s coach know about any special needs.
Your child’s instructors likely won’t know about any mental or physical health differences unless you tell them. Make sure that the coaches know about any relevant conditions before your child steps on the mats, as well as any management skills that they may need to employ to keep your child safe and happy. This can help your child stay safe and better understand what they’re learning while in class.

2. Make sure your child is wearing proper gear.
At the very least, your child should have athletically focused clothing that is flexible and breathable. Pants, shorts, and shirts should lack pockets, zippers, buttons, or any other attachments that might scratch skin or catch fingers and toes. Long hair should be tied back with hair accessories that don’t have any hard or sharp attachments that could poke your kid or another kid during sparring. You should also get your child a mouthguard as soon as possible to protect their teeth — accidents happen even when everyone is being careful! At some point, you may also need to purchase a gi (training kimono) for your child, but many schools that require gis will loan them out for the first couple of classes so that you and your child can be sure that they want to continue training first. And of course, remember to bring a water bottle!

3. Enforce proper hygiene.
Kids are notoriously germy, and jiu-jitsu isn’t the most hygienic sport, so it’s important to make sure your child is as clean as possible when they come to the gym. Make sure their nails are trimmed short to keep them from scratching themselves or their teammates, and clean off any snack leftovers from their face and hands before they start training. Clean feet are important for clean mats as well, so make sure they have shoes that are easy to slip on and off (flip-flops are ideal) if they need to leave the mats and come back.

4. Encourage respect and good listening.
Your child’s coaches will do their best to keep every student engaged, but if your child needs a reminder about how to behave, the words of their parent may be more convincing than the words of a coach. Good listening isn’t just important for learning jiu-jitsu — it’s crucial for safety. If you have concerns that your child might struggle with following instructions, make sure to do your part to help your kid’s coach conduct a safe, productive class.

5. Be a cheerleader, not a coach.
Unless you have jiu-jitsu experience and your child’s coach has specifically asked you to help coach your child, resist the urge to shout advice or criticism from the sidelines. Even if you think you know how to help your kid get ahead in a sparring session or tournament match, your child will be better off if they know to focus on their coaches’ voices. Your child’s coach will also understand their strengths and challenges on the mats, as well as remembering which techniques they have and haven’t learned. Your job as a jiu-jitsu parent is to support your kid and help make jiu-jitsu an activity that they want to come back to. Encourage them whether they win or lose in competition — their coach will review what they can improve on once everyone is back in the gym to practice.

Your child’s coaches will do most of the work in giving your child a great BJJ education, but with your help as a cooperative and prepared parent, your little martial artist can have even more fun (and success!) on the mats.


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