David Jacobs' BJJGround Tips for teaching kids classes

8/1/19 10:33 AM
Posts: 257

Looking for advice from he collective wisdom of the group on making kids classes (K-8) successful. Thanks

8/1/19 10:41 AM
Posts: 41442

Split into age groups. 4-5, 6-9, 10 and up if possible. Some kids will goof off all the time. Don't compromise the entire class for two kids. Group them together and give the best class for the others. 

Edited: 8/1/19 11:44 AM
Posts: 519

K-8 is a pretty wide disparity in terms of physical size and mental maturity to focus. If possible, it might be beneficial to split the class up into two (or more) different classes by age range and/or maturity .

8/1/19 12:27 PM
Posts: 7260

I like some advice the Gracie brothers give in their bullyproof program. They basically say to keep your instruction positive. If you need to correct the child, for instance his leg is in the wrong position, you do it by physically moving his leg in the correct position while saying "very good, you got it," etc. never "here do it like this" or anything negative that breaks their good attitude and makes it no fun to train because "they do it wrong."


I think that concept is brilliant.

8/2/19 10:20 AM
Posts: 5719


8/2/19 10:58 AM
Posts: 17115

Gracie Bullyproof is an excellent resource. Using that - I would structure:

1) Warmups
2) Gracie Bullyproof - techniques
3) End with games - dodgeball, etc

Split up the classes- I have 4-7 year olds, 8-13 year olds, and 14+ go to adult classes

8/2/19 12:27 PM
Posts: 1084

If there is no fun involved, you will lose them. If it is only fun with no structure, you will lose them. Smile and joke little, but be patient and nurturing at the same time. Make the group feel like a team and you will be able to grab their attention more collectively. Whenever you have a chance, get some of the kids to help in demonstrations as it will show the others (especially newbies) that the kids are really capable and it will bolster confidence. Lastly, IMO with coaching, having a nice, easy to learn warmup routine to start every class gives the kids knowledge of what to expect and its very easy to make fun. I.E. bear crawl or butt scootch races. Remember too, a little competition will help guide them to push harder.


P.S. Another one IMO, absolutely do not reward failure. Its a fine line to correct kids and the sandwich technique can help (compliment, correction, compliment). Say Joe can't quite get his shrimp down, start with "Joe, you're showing good strength when you push off in your shrimp. If you want to get even more space from your opponent and be able to work towards that sweep, do your shrimp this way (demonstrate) because... keep up the good work"


You'd be amazed at how the littlest thing can drive kids to excel.


Good luck

8/2/19 3:43 PM
Posts: 73

I agree with splitting up by age groups (and pretty much everything said so far). Attention span is a big factor depending on age. Many 4-6 year olds will struggle to stay focused by the end of a half hour class, even if it is fast paced and they are engaged the whole time. As kids get older, especially if they started when they were younger, they can hold their focus for longer classes.

8/2/19 3:55 PM
Posts: 259

Thanks for all the advice. One only have time for one 60 min kids class twice a week. Should I group everyone together or have a more narrow age range ?

8/2/19 6:53 PM
Posts: 17116

That's way too broad of an age group- because how you teach (and keep the attention) of a 5 year old will be different than how you do that with a 13 year old.

If possible, I would get another instructor and you guys can split up the class - but possibly allow all ages to participate in the warm ups together.

8/3/19 5:00 PM
Posts: 44




Are imo critical components of solid teaching.


Teaching is an art, often requiring multiple skills and tools. 

I like when coaches use multiple modes to deliver, it displays their understanding that there are multiple styles of learning. Teaching this way imo helps anchor the material into the subconscious. 

8/6/19 11:29 AM
Posts: 4384

When a kid isn't following directions, rather than calling them out find a kid who is following directions and praised the hell out of them. 


When teaching the move call out each small portion of the technique as if you were doing paint by numbers as they drill. 



8/6/19 1:52 PM
Posts: 8578

Don't forget the importance of keeping the kids MOVING. Make sure there are plenty of movement activities for them to do. FYI Kid's like games because it is a way to exert energy.

Also, although you're teaching kids self-defense via Bjj you're also teaching them how TO MOVE their bodies and, more importantly, how TO KNOW their bodies. In my opinion, those are important and valuable lessons for kids to learn. Indeed, many adults should learn those lessons.

Edited: 8/8/19 6:11 PM
Posts: 34775

Not sure how many of you are trained educators, as in hold a teaching credential or degree. I am and I use quite a LOT of the modern educational strategies in my own kid's classes.

Firstly, I don't divide kids up by age --that's a very "old fashioned" approach. I divide them up by race. --Much more modern.

It's important for kids to not just learn jiu jitsu but learn to be better citizens (documented or otherwise). So, we get into topics like inheret privilege.

To make this concrete to the class, I have certain kids and genders always start out  rolling from a position of advantage, while other kids and genders always begin in a lesser position, down by several points.

Jiu jitsu is a living, breathing art and we all have a responsibility to keep it relevant to OUR time. But, we also have a responsibility to have it refllect the history of the place in which we are teaching. For that reason no English is spoken in my kid's class. All instruction is entirely in the Gabriolino Tongva language --the native tongue of the original people who lived on this land.

Sure, racist parents will sometimes object and use coded language to say things like, "look, I just wanted a normal jiu jitsu class for my kid". I shame them and  report them to Child & Family Services.

--Then I get right back to doing what I do best, changing little lives.