Stop by Kaijin any Monday, Wednesday or Friday afternoon and you’ll hear the pitter patter of quick moving feet. Jiu-Jitsu students are running drills. One by one they leap over hurdles, nimbly roll to their feet and jump to tackle a fellow student to the ground. But these grapplers don’t have far to fall; most of them are about four feet tall.
In addition to training adults in the ways of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kaijin instructors also offer youth classes that fall into three age brackets: 3.5-5, 6-8 and 9-12 years old.
Parents report improved confidence and social skills after only a few months of training. “My son was very shy,” explained a father from yesterday’s 4:30pm class. “He has become way more outgoing. I think the hands on part of [Jiu-Jitsu] has really helped him overcome his shyness.”
Head Jiu-Jitsu instructor Garth Taylor credits a structured learning space for the improvements. “They’re going to gain a lot of self confidence from wrestling with other kids in a structured environment where it’s not scary for them,” says Taylor, “where they can relax and be a little less nervous.”
Other parents, like Lara Struthers, whose two sons have trained for about two years, are happy to see their kids apply their skills outside of the gym. “My older son fell on the playground after a year and a half of doing Jiu-Jitsu. He did one of the rolls and just jumped up out of it. I was like, ‘Whoa! How did he do that?’ It was very ninja.”
Check out the photos above to see kids from our mid-afternoon class practicing their rolls and discussing their favorite submissions with Garth Taylor.