Javen Jones, freshman at Oak Ridge High School, took Bronze in the NABJJF (North American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) Kids All Americas on the twenty first of January in Cerritos, CA.
Winning one of his two matches, Javen displayed excellent takedown strategy, scoring a takedown on both matches. He managed to secure the mount position and, just as the timer ended, finished with an armbar — a favored technique, as seen from his preceding tournaments. Javen plans to come back from his tournament experience and hit the mats immediately! He has big aspirations to continue competing for years to come.
Thank you, to all the children and parents who participated in this year’s Thanksgiving Week Kids Camp!
The camp was held on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, leading up to Thanksgiving. It gave children the opportunity to spend more time in the dojo to explore other engaging activities that coincide with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, self defense, and teamwork. The camp also gave our instructors the opportunity to connect with the children in an even more meaningful fashion than just learning and practicing BJJ.
Even though we had a scheduled agenda before the children arrived each day; we stepped out of the agenda and followed the interests of the children. Each day started with games and free play, to let the children socialize and become more comfortable with each other. That led to learning the basic and foundational movements and positions of BJJ. The campers expressed what they were thankful for by making cards and drawing pictures for their families. And we had plenty of snack breaks to feed our hungry learners!
Chess seemed to be the most interesting daily activity for the group. For over an hour the children worked harmoniously together, as they helped each other setting up the Chessboard and learning how the pieces moved. We worked on game-planning and strategies. Does that sound like some familiar concepts we use for another game?
Yes! The camp was structured around getting each student to THINK. Not only about what they were thankful for, but that their actions have consequences, how to work together in groups or with a partner, and that the cross over between chess, jiujitsu and other activities off the mat.
Everyone gets into jiujitsu for different reasons. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of those martial arts that allows a wide range of people with different interests and at different stages in their life to begin training. Boys and girls as young 3 or 4 can start training and so can men or women in their 30s, 40s, or 50s start learning the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Anthony Bourdain is one example. Most of us know Anthony Bourdain from his famous traveling cousin show, No Reservations. His humor and observations that he shares with everyone casts a delightful light on the different cuisines and cultures of the world. Interestingly, Anthony is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fanatic. When traveling he looks to find a place to train when there is down time. Born in 1956, that puts him at the ripe age of 60. Having started jiujitsu in his 50s, and currently a blue belt in rank, I’m going to guess it’s been an uphill battle since he started training. He says jiujitsu “appeals to some part of my brain I haven’t visited before.”
On the other end are these girls in the gi. This video was taken from the Kids American Nationals in 2015. These two girls were around age 5.
It’s fun to see them compete without any hesitation to try their best. No second guessing. Probably tapping into the same part of the brain that Anthony Bourdain talks about.
Never the less these girls and Anthony both have something in common. They share the passion to learn and have fun on the mat. To compete as a measurement of self improvement. They give their most even on days when they think that there is nothing more to give. They are competitors.
On the other hand, there are others who get into jiujitsu and never step into competition. Instead, they enjoy the relaxed learning environment of training and competitive rolling done in the safety of class with a partner they can get to know and trust. Some look to reap the benefits of getting in great shape, and being the most fit they have been in their life. While others look to learn jiujitsu from a more practical self defense perspective.
There are many angles we can think about self defense. There is the physical self defense jiujitsu can teach us how to protect ourselves when we go to our back and other positions from the feet and ground. However, there are many other self defense benefits to learning jiujitsu as well. The benefit of patience when put under adversity or high stress situations. The benefit of understanding consistency in training as opposed to short term intensity with little to no consistency. The benefit of a lifestyle of activity and movement while interacting with others on the mat. There are so many psycho social benefits to jiujitsu that are applicable to modern day self defense.
While some step onto the mat to become a world champion competitor, some wanting to learn self defense, get in shape, or start a new hobby, everyone enters the dojo with the idea of self improvement. This idea is universal in jiujitsu. Everyone wants to improve and better themselves with each and every class. If you are looking to associate with strong, healthy minded people, give jiujitsu a try!
Like many quality martial arts schools we stress the importance of discipline, self control, and mutual respect. However, we also emphasize other elements that sets us apart from most martial arts schools. In our teachings we seek out coaching moments to teach collaborative effort through games and play, verbal communication to resolve conflict and share information,
Starting with the games we play to the partner drills, we work hard to create an environment where the students are rewarded when they cooperate. Cooperation is a skill students will utilize for the rest of their life as they progress through their schooling and into their careers. The ability to work together with others, even if they are not friends, is an important skill we all need to learn in order to accomplish an assigned task. This is done mostly with the games we play in class and the partner drills we learn in our training. and to think ahead knowing that all actions have consequences.
While Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, and Martial Arts is an art we practice with our body, we stress the importance of communication. Students are encouraged to use their words to express when something is not right, uncomfortable, or needs to change. In between classes students have the opportunity to run around on the mat, while this is free play time, it’s also valuable time for them to learn how to better express themselves and communicate with one another. Intermittently during the year we incorporate opportunities for the students to give presentations and share information or events they take part in.
Strategy is an important part of any sport. Needless to say in a game like jiujitsu strategy can make a big impression on the outcome of a match. We teach strategy not only to win but also to plan ahead. To know that decisions have consequences, just like actions have reactions. The ability to think ahead reinforces the idea that all actions, good or bad, have consequences. We look for coaching moments to help the student better understand this process.
During breaks we try to involve and engage the kids students (age 4-16) in different manners off the mat and bring that back to the mat. One theme we’ve been following through with each break especially during the summer and winter breaks are the RWP program we’ve established. Here is what we mean by RWP:
R = Research / Read
W = Write
P = Present
Students start with researching or reading about a topic. The research can be a very simple conversation with a parent, friend or family member or an excursion to the library. Once they’ve gathered some information they write a little summary to present to their peers and parent’s in attendance at class on that day. The presentation lasts about 30 seconds to 60 seconds a student and we typically have 1-3 presentations a class during the summer months. It’s an engaging activity that allows the students to express themselves in a different way amongst their jiujitsu peers.
All of these projects are optional. No one is forced to do anything they are not interested in, but they are reminded that it does influence how they earn their stripes on their belt. While some topics are related to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Martial Arts, we open things up to other topics as well. Our first topic was on Memorial Day and our second topic on the describing what “Never Give Up” means. Students can bring in a picture to go with this topic. This is always fun to share with everyone, including the adults. In the past, we’ve covered topics like; Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champions, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Legends, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Grand Masters, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Self Defense, How do you think strong, What is July 4th, etc. Some topics are open to interpretation and other topics are very specific and require the students to go online or to the library to find out some information. As a result, students are able to showcase their different skills. In the future I would love to have a study lounge for the students to hang out before or after class to prepare their presentations.
Most importantly, we want to engage our students in activities off the mat that promotes and develops reading, writing, and presentation skills. These are skills that they will be able to utilize for the rest of their life, and the more we practice the more comfortable we will become when asked to research a topic, write about it, or even present it. Public speaking is a skill no one is born with, and not practiced very often in schools. We hope to challenge the students comfort levels and get them feeling at ease when speaking in front of a crowd of people.
A new element to our RWP program we began doing this summer is for the students to ask questions at the end of the speech. Doing so has been a great addition to the entire presentation process. I’m excited to hear all of our interesting presentations this summer!