What’s the best self-defence martial art for kids?

Martial arts and self-defence training is one of the best ways to foster development among kids and young adults. But if you’re a parent in Canberra, you may be confused as to which martial art you should start your kids off on.

There are many options for kids martial arts training. But at Chave de Ouro (Golden Key) academy in Canberra, we believe Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is the best bet you can make for kids self-defence and self development.

There are three key reasons for that. First, it’s effective. Second, it’s safe. Third, it’ll teach children as much about life as it does about martial arts.

chave de ouro canberra BJJ kids

Grappling self-defence for kids

Most of the martial arts you’re probably most familiar with are strike based. Muay Thai. Taekwondo. Boxing. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is completely different to these self-defence forms. BJJ is all about grappling, not striking.

In Jiu-Jitsu, your kid will learn self-defence techniques to take an aggressor to the ground, hold them safely and, if necessary, neutralise them with a submission hold.

This is an important distinction. It makes martial arts training safer (more on that later). But it’s also a super effective form of kids self-defence, and a great tool for children to have against bullies.

Jiu-Jitsu was designed to be effective against larger, stronger opponents. This is why much of it revolves around taking an opponent to the ground, where a size and power advantage is reduced. This is different to many other martial arts, like boxing, where a bigger and stronger participant has a huge advantage.

Second, Jiu-Jitsu offers kids a range of ways to respond to bullies and other threats. At Chave de Ouro, we teach kids from all around Canberra how to defend themselves. We teach them how to keep distance from an aggressor and how to subdue them.

We also teach submission techniques, like armbars and chokes, but impress on kids that these are only to be used in extreme circumstances.

This represents three ways to react to a threat: Avoiding confrontation while keeping yourself safe, engaging an aggressor by subduing but not injuring them, and the extreme response of harming a violent aggressor with a submission lock.

BJJ is unusual in this respect. Arts like Taekwondo and Muay Thai, for instance, do indeed teach effective self-defence techniques. But there’s often little control between fending someone off or injuring them. A spinning kick from a taekwondo practitioner can be deadly — but such deadly force is rarely warranted.

Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t just offer kids in Canberra self-defence, it offers true control.

chave de ouro canberra BJJ kids

The importance of sparring

The other reason BJJ is an unusual martial art is because of the “rolls”. In Jiu-Jitsu, we refer to sparring as “rolling.” Unlike the aforementioned striking arts, as well as other grappling arts like wrestling and Judo, Jiu-Jitsu rolls allow practitioners to practice at almost full intensity while maintaining minimal injury risk.

Of course, we don’t let all kids roll, and fewer still roll at full intensity. That depends on age, level of competence and level of comfort. We believe in pushing children outside their comfort zones, but only when it’s safe to do so.

Yet intense sparring in Jiu-Jitsu is safe for two reasons. Wrestling and Judo are both fantastic martial arts, but they involve lots of explosive slams and takedowns. We focus less on this in Jiu-Jitsu, and grappling on the ground is much safer than grappling for a takedown.

And, as mentioned, there are no strikes. It’s more difficult to spar safely if that sparring involves high-impact punches, kicks, knees and elbow strikes, even with protective gear. Of course, mistakes happen in any athletic endeavor. But BJJ removes two of the biggest causes of injury in kids martial arts training.

Instead, children learn to grapple with one another to establish a safe, controlling position. Then, they learn how to safely apply a submission hold. Their opponent submits, the kids shake hands and begin again. It’s safe, it’s fun, and the competitive aspect helps kids develop.

There’s also an extra self-defence benefit here. If your child can accommodate intensive sparring on the mats, they’ll be more able to deal with intense situations on the playground.

If you live in Canberra and have kids interested in martial arts or self-defence, come into Chave de Ouro for a free trial.