When looking at options for children’s sports and activities it can be difficult to determine the benefits of each. Should my child do Tae Kwon Do, Football, or Gymnastics? In this article I hope to look at the benefits of Brazilian JiuJitsu in relation to early and adolescent development. What kind of a tool can learning JiuJitsu be to developing a child’s life?

While it has been proven extensively that physical exercise is pivotal to all children’s overall health and development let us ask what types of physical activities and skills have the most effectand are of the most benefit to a child’s development.

Hand Eye Co-ordination (Timing)

Brazilian JiuJitsu is a grappling art, meaning that through we start from standing, we spend a large amount of time on the ground engaged in full body movements with the goal of controlling one’s opponent or partner in mind. This is accomplished by the application of technique- not by use of strength, size or force.

Techniques in JiuJitsu work on two principals- that of leverage and that of timing. Both must be implemented for the most effective use of a technique. Because there are no strikes in JiuJitsu, movements are not based on power or impact and as far more natural for the body to accomplish repetitively with little strain or chance of it. It also means that techniques can be applied effectively and at real time speed without fear of being hurt or having to ‘pull a punch’ to keep training partners safe.


Certainly once of the first physical activities that is often overlooked in a child’s life is the importance of crawling to not just early, but later, development. Crawling engages all four limbs and more muscles than running, skipping, walking or jumping. In order to be done effectively, more areas of the brain must be activated and co-ordinated as one to facilitate crawling and other movement over the ground on four limbs. These movements are naturally implemented and streamlined into JiuJitsu practice.

Gross Motor Skills

These are amongst the earliest and most fundamental skills we develop, that are later governed almost unconsciously by the brain- crawling, rolling, standing, and walking. We play a lot of games in JiuJitsu designed to integrate other areas of development into our training more specifically. We do object relays, ball catching and throwing games, and puzzle games involving numbers, colours, and listening skills. While these engage gross motor skillsprimarily at the standing to kneeling levels, they more specifically require hand eye co-ordination, concentration, and reasoning skills as applied to physical activity.

Bilateral Co-ordination

Full body engagement such as grappling necessarily involves bilateral co-ordination. It also involves motion at different levels and stages- on the ground, on the knees, and at standing. The first two of these stages are often ignored and remain unengaged soon after we learn to effectively walk and begin instead to look towards mental development. Not being comfortable moving on the floor or being able to move effectively at a kneeling level leads not only to ignoring a range of activities that engage the mind and body but leaves one susceptible to the dangers of falling incorrectly and incurring subsequent injuries. Falls and tumbles are most responsible for broken bones and injuries in children and the elderly.

Visual-Motor Integration and Fine Motor Skills

Children must watch a technique or movement first and then try it out to feel them work effectively. By being able to watch and repeat activities with a high kinetic engagement, that often requires separate or specific use of muscle groups, visual guidance of motor skills are developed. These finer motorskills transfer to things such as handwriting, drawing, and tool use.

Social and Group Skills through Physical Activity

While physical in nature, JiuJitsu is a group activity. Though a completely separate article could be written on the function of the group in children’s activities I feel it necessary to give it a passing mention in regards to JiuJitsu training.In a sparring match there may be only two competitors but it is necessary to train with a variety of partners to realize the application of technique effectively regardless of shape or size. In our children’s classes we use the group as a self-supportive learning environment by encouraging the group to answer and ask question, work out problems or impediments, and assist itself. All these are capacities that any child must develop in order to effectively work in small and large groups.

With all we have talked about in regards to children’s development and Brazilian JiuJitsu, I invite you to bring your family to watch and participate in our children’s program and see what JiuJitsu can do for you all.

For further reading on crawling, or the effectiveness of co-ordination exercises on cognitive function: