Jeff F.
December 23, 2021

Why is Jiu Jitsu for Kids Essential to Raising Responsible Children?

Worried about your child being bullied? Curious about the difference forms of self defense for kids? Trying to decide which martial art your child needs to learn? Read on to answer these questions and more!
jiu-jitsu for kids

Beating Bully Behavior

While discussing bullying and strategies for overcoming its existence, Rener Gracie, grandson of Grandmaster Hélio Gracie and the second-eldest son of Grandmaster Rorion Gracie, says "countless times I've met parents who've done everything right—they've raised kids who are courteous, disciplined, and highly respectful—but they still get tormented by bullies. Once a bully targets a particular child, we've found that the harassment will continue for as long as the bully can get away with it." By way of YouTube, Instgram, Facebook, TikTok and social media at large, society has seen what feels like a rise in bully culture, forcing parents, school administrators, and local and national leaders alike to search for solutions. At Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Aurora, we believe empowering those who are bullied is the quickest road to ending the issue. Rener continues, "and in the Gracie Bullyproof program we've systematically put an end to the [bullying] cycle."

Bullies Will Always Exist

According to some surveys, less than 15% of kids actually report acts of bullying. The inability to stand up to a bully stems from the fear of personal safety, a fear of being further humiliated, and a fear of being further hurt—unfortunately, not adequately standing up to a will embolden the bully to persist. Confidently and intelligently standing up to a bully is the best way to stifle bullying. Where does the knowledge and confidence to do what is necessary when dealing with a bully come from? And, therein lies the challenge—how do you instill in a victim of bullying the confidence to face the tormentor, look the bully in the eye, and stop the aggressors bad behavior? The answer is simple, teach the victims to defend themselves against physical attack, and the rest will follow. As Rener's older brother, Ryron, says "being a parent is a very difficult job, and bullying is something that parents don't think about until it happens to their child."

child being bullied and beaten at school
Austin McDaniel, the victim of a bully, was dragged to the ground by the neck, mounted and then punched numerous times while at school (see video at the end of this article for his full story)

What is Gracie Bullyproof?

Bullyproof is the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu system of preparing your child to deal with bullies without turning them into one. We emphasize discipline, responsibility, and respect throughout the course, and teach five “Rules of Engagement” to ensure they never abuse their power.

  • Rule 1: Avoid the fight at all costs.
  • Rule 2: If physically attacked, defend yourself.
  • Rule 3: If verbally attacked, follow the Three T-steps (talk, tell, tackle).
  • Rule 4: Never punch or kick the bully, establish control and negotiate.
  • Rule 5: When applying submissions use minimal force and negotiate.

Enter Gracie Bullyproof

We teach children how to use their voice and their words to end conflicts with bullies. The Gracie way emphasizes to never initiate physical aggression. If physically attacked by a bully, we provide our students a roadmap of techniques to non-violently neutralize the aggressor, get to a literal position control, and wait for help to arrive.

Every Kid Needs Gracie Bullyproof

Students of Gracie Bullyproof learn more than just Jiu-jitsu techniques to use to control and submit a bully. They learn increased awareness, including how to differentiate between harmless play and harmful harassment, or put another way, the difference between “joking” and “bullying.” Children who train Bullyproof learn to deal with bullies without turning them into one. Kids in the Gracie Bullyproof program learn the tools needed to overcome physical, verbal, and psychological harassment, so they are so confident in themselves that no bully will try to harass them.

Instruction and Instructors Matter

It's important to realize that the teaching method matters and the quality of who is teaching matters even more. That's why all Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Instructors go through a rigorous training process that can take over 15 months to complete and culminates with a live evaluation in front of Rener and Ryron Gracie. A large percentage of applicants fail the process leaving behind only the most qualified instructors. Not only do the instructors get evaluated on their compression of the curriculum, how well they can execute the moves, explain the lessons, and demonstrate high levels of technical comprehension, they are also assessed for character and values. The Gracie family takes pride in how their name is represented and honored, thus, not just anyone who knows the moves is qualified to teach under the Gracie name.

Jiu-Jitsu for Kids build self confidence
Gracie Bullyproof student begin to build confidence beginning with their first class

Is this Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Kids?

You might be wondering, "is Gracie Bullyproof just kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?" In many ways the short answer is yes, this is Jiu-Jitsu for kids—but that is an oversimplification of what separates the Gracie way from the rest of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and also what separates Gracie Bullyproof from all other Jiu-Jitsu classes for kids. As a main differentiator, we are focused on self defense while most Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school train for sportive events in which two Jiu-Jitsu practitioners compete under a set of rules that does not include striking.

Kids Jiu-Jitsu the Gracie Way

When a bully attacks a child, the bully is not following a set of rules, there is no referee, and there is no time restraint. Our students do not train for competition, rather they train for the real world application of how to defend their own safety, the safety of their siblings, and the safety of their friends. Gracie Bullyproof goes far beyond the potential of a simple Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class by teaching children how to standup to altercations first by using their voice, eye contact, posture and presence and attempting to talk the bully down. If those tactics do not thwart the bully, then our system provides the student with the means to physically neutralize the bully without throwing a single punch or kick.

Gracie Bullyproof students playing around with their instructor
Gracie Bullyproof students playing around with their instructor

Is Muy Thai for Kids Better Than Gracie Bullyproof?

Let's say a bully targets your child. Now let's compare some possible outcomes if you're child trains Muy Thai or some other form of kickboxing versus Gracie Bullyproof. With any striking art, like kickboxing or Muy Thai, your child's primary line of defense is fists, elbows, knees, shins, and feet. Throwing strikes puts both your child and the bully at a high level of risk of injury. Knuckles, fingers, and wrists are fragile. The face of the bully, even though the bully is the aggressor, is fragile and worth protecting from bruises, black eyes, broken orbitals, and bloody noses. There is also the risk that a strike to the head could cause a concussion. The initial strike itself or the bully falling and cracking his or her head could do serious damage to the brain. Now consider what this article has already described about Gracie Bullyproof: verbal deescalation, strong eye contact and non-violent means of confronting a bully; takedowns, positions of control, and further verbal communication to negotiate a peaceful resolve.

Muy Thai for kids

Muy Thai for kids and other forms of kids kickboxing are legitimate forms of martial arts. We are not discrediting their effectiveness in professional fighting nor are we suggesting a grown adult should not train them. We are pointing out that kid's Muy Thai asserts violence to gain domination while Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for kids (aka Gracie Bullyproof) uses positioning and leverage to gain compliance. The question, "is kickboxing for kids a better self defense system for a child when compared to Gracie Bullyproof," is a philosophical question that each parent who is seeking a martial art for their child will need to consider. When defending one's self, do you want your child to employ maximum damage to another child or do you want them to exert a tempered usage of technique that gains control and compliance while also protecting the attacker from the practitioner? After all, do you want child to turn into the bully as they defend themself from an aggressor?

Fighting Fire with Water

Most martial arts programs rely on striking the attacker with violent punches, kicks, knees, and elbows, but in the Gracie Bullyproof program we take a different approach. All the techniques are purely defensive and utilize no strikes. Furthermore, we teach children how to defuse confrontations with words and never to initiate physical aggression. If attacked, we offer techniques to non-violently neutralize the threat and gain control until help arrives. In the Gracie Bullyproof program, we teach the children how to fight fire with water so that you never have to worry about your child becoming a bully under our guidance.

El Paso boy receives black eye in school from alleged bully, ends up on the hospital operating table

Gracie Bullyproof is a Complete MMA System

When looking at the entire system of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu one can see that it incorporates wrestling takedowns, Judo takedowns, striking with the hand, feet, knees, and elbows, and also self defense from weapons. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is at its core a mix martial art (also know as MMA). The Gracie Bullyproof system removes striking and weapon defense elements but maintains wrestling and Judo techniques and principles.

Gracie Bullyproof is Mixed Martial Arts for Kids

It is kids mixed martial arts without the striking which means when your child is defending him or herself from a bully, your child won't be become the bully by throwing punches or kick. Instead they will use verbal confrontation, takedowns, positions of control, and further negate with the bully in order to deescalate the situation.

The mount position is taught to all Bullyproof students and is a dominant position of control

Teaching Your Child Discipline and Responsibility

At Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Aurora, it's no secret that our instructors develop meaningful bonds with every student at the Academy—especially with our youth practitioners within the Bullyproof program. Our Bullyproof instructors leverage this connection to help you develop your child’s character for success in all aspects of life. The Gracie Character Development Program consists of six chapters: Responsibility, Health, Respect, Citizenship, Manners, and Caring. We spend two months on each chapter. In every class, we discuss the featured character trait for 10-15 minutes, emphasizing the simple things your child can do to make it a part of their life.

children learn discipline and mutual respect in gracie bullyproof
Children learn discipline and mutual respect in Gracie Bullyproof, as well as how to defend themselves from bullying

How to Teach Children Confidence

One Monday morning, Austin McDaniel's mom received a phone call from the school informing her that her son had been assaulted by another student. The entire altercation was caught on camera and subsequently went viral. Soon thereafter a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu student saw the video on YouTube and shared it with Rener and Ryron Gracie and invited Austin and his parents out to the Gracie Academy Headquarters in Torrance, California. The McDaniel family excepted the offer and it changed their lives.

Confident Kids Equal Confident Parents

"I felt that that day that happened to him, I failed as a father. That day he lost his innocence in my mind. Because he lost that innocent little kid that can be around crowds, be around people and feel like himself." On day one in Torrence his father says "I just want him to feel confident, just have that self confidence when he stands there, be sure about himself in his environment."

"Day one, just blew my mind," his mother recounts. She continues "just the things that Austin learned in day one, if that all he had of received was day one training, that in itself would have been very beneficial to him." Austin continued on with his training at the Gracie Academy HQ for 6 more days. In that time he was introduced to many aspects of Gracie lifestyle, including a visit to the beach for some recreational time in addition to training in the sand followed by the classic Gracie snack, Açaí. Continuing through the week, Austin was also exposed to psychological training and learning the idea that the more you understand how to fight, the less likely you are to need to fight. This is a fundamental concept that child learn in Gracie Bullyproof. By the end of the week Austin's dad emotionally says, "this week has been the best thing for him in the whole entire world." The reality is that the confidence that built up in Austin will carry through into the rest of his life.

After a video of Austin being bullied at school went viral, Rener and Ryron invited him to attend Gracie Bullyproof
After a video of Austin being bullied at school went viral, Rener and Ryron invited him to attend Gracie Bullyproof

How to Get Your Child Started with Gracie Bullyproof

If you live in the Denver or Aurora area then you can always sign your child up for a free 7-day trail of Bullyproof. If you are looking for kids Jiu-Jitsu near you but you don't live near Denver then you can use this map to locate a Gracie Certified Training Center near you. All CTC's offers Gracie Bullyproof.

Luis was the victim of a bully before he was trained by Rener and Ryron Gracie
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