Tag Archives: kids martial arts

Comparing a Martial Art like Jiu-Jitsu or Wrestling with Downhill Skiing

I have the opportunity to teach private lessons in jiu-jitsu and wrestling a few times a week. While working with a student who volunteers as a downhill ski instructor, we found some common ground between skiing, brazilian jiujitsu, and judo / wrestling throws.

2017 NoGi Pans IBJJF in New York Eliot Kelly v Jackson Sousa

Through some observation and discussion, we found that the throwing motion in judo or wrestling , the movement in guard retention for jiu-jitsu, and downhill skiing to cross gates all share the same concept of rotating the body. In fact rotation is a very common movement pattern in humans, but our lifestyle of sitting in a car, at a desk, on a couch, and repeat has diminished our rotation ability over the years. The movement is quite simple, where the upper body rotates in one direction while the lower body rotates in another. As a result the body is able to pre-load and powerfully whip through to execute the movement.

Pre-Loading:

This is split second before the load is carried. In this part of the movement the body is getting close to full rotation with the legs and hips facing one way and the chest and shoulders facing another direction. In the hip throw, this would be the entry, with the body rotating at the spine. In downhill skiing a similar effect is desired. The skier maintains the chest and shoulders down hill and allows the lower body to rotate in the desired direction. This is the pre-loading phase for downhill skiing as well.

Loading:

Loading takes place in the split instant of action where rotation becomes undone. In a throw the load happens in the split second  the body goes to untwist and the opponents body goes flying. In downhill skiing, this loading happens the split-second transition from one direction to another, cutting around the gate. The more dynamic the rotation combines with the whipping of the body to unwind the rotation, results in more power being generated.

Promoting & Regaining Rotation:

Using Stick Mobility in Finland

I’m no physical therapist, but I am very movement curious. I’ve recently started using Stick Mobility to work on my rotation and have noticed some quick short term gains. However, I think routine stretching that involves rotation is a good start. I also enjoy doing yoga and other activities that promote rotation; playing catch, hitting  a baseball, tennis, racquet ball. Yoga is also a gentle practice that will promote rotation, but all these things need to be done consistently. While playing sports or martial arts are a great way to maintain rotation, it is also a good idea to promote healthy rotation by using Stick Mobility or doing Yoga on a consistent basis.

Eliot Kelly 

Summer Kids do Research, Writing & Presentations

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

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Kenny giving a presentation in 2016

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.

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Drago giving his presentation in 2015 Summer NoGi Jiu Jitsu.

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.

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A few of the writings with some visual photos by Keegan, Ethan, Ryan, and others.

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!

Think Strong Be Strong
Eliot Kelly