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How does jiu-jitsu make my child a better student?

One of the most common concerns for parents is their child’s education. Parents feel the surmounting pressure of giving their children the tools and opportunity with which to earn an education and ultimately create a better quality of life than they ever had. Parenting is a completely selfless and often times thankless occupation but is the most noblest of all roles a human being can play. To devote your life in the service of another, this is the greatest good. Our parents at RABJJ are prime examples of the devotion and love it takes to raise an upstanding member of society, and their sacrifice for their kids inspires me daily.

It is this sacrifice that leaves so many parents stressed when they see their children struggle in school. More often than not, the child’s struggles are rooted in the inability to pay attention in class, and as mature adults we tend to view this as something which is the fault of the child. But this is not the case! We have stacked the deck against them.

Our education system was inspired during and has changed little, since the time of the industrial revolution. This system values memorization and linear thinking in a non-linear world in which we have access to the totality of human knowledge at our fingertips. A century and half ago, it may have served a purpose to remember how many terms and it what years our Presidents served, but with our modern increased accessibility of information comes an equivalent lack of need to remember such trivialities. Along with a failed paradigm, we ask kids in a digital age to learn in an analog way. The sheer willpower it must take from our kids to go from interactive-dopamine inducing screens to focusing on a chalkboard must be great. I imagine most adults would find equal difficulty.

A child never fails, it is only the system or guidance that fails them. This is where we find Jiu Jitsu’s significance in the learning process. Below are the top 3 reasons your child will become a better student at RABJJ, and how their experience here will lead to a better education that will last a lifetime.

1# Focus

If you have listened in on a Kid’s class at RABJJ, you can be sure you have heard the term “Focus” thrown out by the instructors and students alike. The enjoyment that Jiu Jitsu produces is only rivaled by the cognitive complexity of the task. Kids love Jiu Jitsu, and they soon realize the better they get, the more fun it becomes. The ONLY way to grow as a Jiu Jitsu practitioner, regardless of age, is to pay conscious attention to the task at hand with clearly directed purposeful action and thought. Focus is transactional. We call it “pay” attention for a reason. As instructors, we barter the student’s attention for their improved understanding of the art and subsequent joy from performing it at a high level.

The modern school system fails to communicate the value in this transaction in the classroom, and this is with understanding. A young child can never understand the significance of their education or even the need for it among the SpongeBob and Skylanders of daily life. Our classroom however, the mat, allows for a clear understanding of the benefits of focus, and inspires them to do so.

#2 Work Ethic

Success in school, much like life, is largely contingent upon the work we are willing to put forth, certainly more so than our inherited intellectual capacities. Yes, tests are timed, but despite its seeming to be so, the activities of life rarely are. The only stopwatch is our ability to pay attention. Even as adults, we all face deadlines at the office, but rarely are unrealistic deadlines placed upon us. We may lose sleep or miss a meal, but we always tend to get done what is required of us. School is no different. How long your child is willing to wrestle with a math problem is a far greater indicator of their future success than their natural inclination to answer it quickly. The world is full of talented people who have failed and equally full of successful “regular” people who persisted when met with adversity. As the old saying goes, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Jiu Jitsu in its simplest form is problem-solving. We know where we want to go, we are presented with variables particular to the situation at hand, and we use our faculties to come up with the most efficient way to get from A to B. We must remember that as kids are doing live training, they aren’t just playing. They are learning how to navigate adversity in pursuit of their desired destination, and doing so while putting forth great effort. This will translate to all areas of their lives. Math homework doesn’t seem so difficult after conditioning and randori!

#3 Learning How to Learn

Perhaps the greatest benefit to the children in our academy is that they are actually learning how to learn. I often ask the kids what makes a good Jiu Jitsu student, and they respond with the likely candidates: Effort, Focus, Discipline, and Attendance. Then to prove a point, I ask what makes a good student in school, and the responses are the same. These children have learned what makes a good student, regardless of the area of study. The ability to learn is the prerequisite for all future success, and the cultivation of such a skill at a young age is invaluable.

Through Jiu Jitsu, we are teaching the children how to learn, with an emphasis on the importance of focus and work ethic. These will be the tools with which they will navigate life, and the stronger their relationships with tenets of learning the better they will perform in school. Ultimately, I imagine that is the point of education at such a young age. To inspire learning, and to cultivate the love of and ability to learn. We as instructors use Jiu Jitsu to do this, and it is the best vehicle I have found to date.

But Jiu Jitsu is the vehicle. Not the Road.

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