Professor Tyson LaRone
When it comes to martial arts for kids, every style and every school will include self-defense as one of the benefits. To an extent, this can be true in that training in a martial art or developing any athletic skill can build confidence which is an important part of self-defense, but when it comes down to the physical techniques themselves Jiu-Jitsu really starts to shine for a few reasons:
As a general rule, would-be attackers (whether they’re other kids or adults) tend to try to choose easy targets. When I’m teaching I call it the Time, Effort, Risk principle. Attackers want to go for someone they won’t think take a lot of time or effort and that the risk for them is low. That means you can safely assume that an attacker will be bigger, stronger, faster and meaner than you are. Jiu-Jitsu Techniques are specially designed to give you the tools you need to deal with such an attacker, where many styles are better suited to a tournament atmosphere where you can assume the opponent will be around your size and experience level.
2. The Mentality
If you’re talking self-defense, you’re talking realism. If you aren’t training realistically, you aren’t training self-defense. It’s that simple. In Jiu-Jitsu, the same techniques used in self-defense can be safely used in competition against full resistance even for very young children, and it’s only against full resistance do you know if you can really trust a technique to save your life if it comes to that.
3. When Not to Fight
It’s an ancient martial arts cliche that knowing when not to fight is just as important as being able to fight. However, there’s a more practical side to it when you look at the techniques a kid is learning. At Arashi-Do we teach our jiu-jitsu students not only how to fight, but also how to maintain our personal space while talking to the aggressor to try to calm them down. This is not something taught in many martial arts schools outside of Jiu-Jitsu. If a child is taught “self-defense” but the training always fast-forwards to the part where they’re already fighting then they may end up needlessly escalating a situation when they feel threatened that otherwise may not even have turned into a fight.
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