Recently, the most prestigious kids Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament in the world was held in Orlando, the IBJJF Pan Kids Championship. The tournament takes place over the course of 2 days and attracts thousands of competitors from all over the world, all vying for the title of Pan Kids Champion.
Every year American Top Team Fort Lauderdale sends a group of kid competitors to the tournament and this year was no different, with a strong group of 12 competitors, American Top Team came away with 7 medals: 5 silver and 2 bronze.
The tournament is the culmination of months of training and preparation. The preparation for competition day goes far beyond simply training jiu-jitsu at the academy. It’s a good example of the value Brazilian jiu-jitsu and other martial arts have for kids outside of simply learning self-defense.
In order to compete at a tournament of this level, the kids need to take on a great deal of personal responsibility. They need to show up on time for class and come prepared to learn (much like school). This means not only training hard inside the gym, but paying attention to make sure they are retaining the techniques they are learning. Jiu jitsu is as much a mental pursuit as it is a physical one; it’s often referred to as “human chess”.
The discipline the kids must show extends beyond the time they spend in class. They also need to make sure they are eating healthy, getting enough sleep and preparing their body physically for an athletic competition that may require them to fight many matches to reach the podium. Eating healthy is also important to ensure the kids do not weigh-in over the weight limit for their given weight class and get disqualified. This is another personal responsibility the kids need to monitor.
Setting personal goals and working hard to achieve them is a valuable life skill that kids can use in any endeavor they wish to pursue throughout their lives and jiu jitsu competition is no different. It’s also a great way to keep kids busy during the summer months and get them plenty of exercise. Remember, martial arts like Brazilian jiu jitsu are indoor sports that are practiced year-round and not susceptible to rain-outs and bad weather.