Since I’m out with a bum knee, I thought I would do a kids post. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about their progress.
We decided to give both boys a little break from jiu-jitsu over the summer. It was a tough decision, but our oldest, Drew, was really, really struggling. As much as I hate to say it, I think jiu-jitsu was doing more harm than good.
When he started, three years ago, there were two other boys that started at the same time that were also the same age as Drew. Over the last few years the other two boys have grown a lot physically and progressed a lot faster than Drew and even advanced to several belts above Drew. Since they were the two that he mostly rolled with, class became something Drew dreaded. He would plead with us to stay home. He was just constantly getting beat and it was very defeating to him. We tried to help him find the small victories, but man, he just couldn’t see it that way. Eventually he would just pretty much give up each roll. It was a “I would rather lose by my own choice than see you win by your choice,” kind of situation. He’s stubborn like that. And, I have NO idea WHERE he gets it from…
Now, the next part of this story, in many ways I’m glad it happened and in many ways I was sad that it happened. As a mother it’s so hard to see our kids struggle and watch them deal with shitty people, but I also know that it’s struggle and shitty people that teach us some of the best lessons of our lives.
Awhile back I wrote a post about a few kids prank calling Drew and saying awful things and even suggesting that he kill himself. One of those kids involved in that situation, we will call him Ringleader McShittyPants, about a week before school started, sent out a Snapchat asking his friends to harass and threaten Drew. Drew ended up getting about 15 messages from kids at his school threatening to kick his ass. To say he was terrified is an understatement. He woke me up at 1:00 a.m. one night because the texts wouldn’t stop and he was scared. When we confronted Ringleader McShittyPants’s parents and they decided to do absolutely nothing about it, (I wonder why this kid acts this way…) Mike went into Scary Dad mode and squashed the situation pretty quick. However, Drew was still really nervous about going to school and what other kids might do to him in the hallways. I remembered dealing with a few girls in my class that harassed and threatened me a lot so I sympathized greatly with him. It’s terrible to be scared that someone, or many someones in Drew’s case, is going to try to physically hurt you.
And, this is why you do jiu-jitsu, kids.
After we comforted him and talked about the situation, we explained to Drew that we know that you have been having a rough time with jiu-jitsu, but jiu-jitsu can help greatly with calming those fears of people threatening to kick your ass. I think about how differently the situation with my school bullies could have been had I been equipped with the skills I have now. If only I could get those girls to come to SFC…
Now, I would never encourage my kids to start a fight, but I will tell them to defend themselves if someone else starts one. We reminded him that because of jiu-jitsu, if a kid did try to fight him, that he has a set of tools to help defend himself with. We told him if someone attacked him, if he could, take it to the ground and choke him. We also told him that this could give him purpose in jiu-jitsu class now. Bullies suck, but now he has a valid reason and a good source of motivation to learn jiu-jitsu. He took it seriously and came back to class with a great attitude and has been putting in lots of great effort.
While all of that was good, we came up with some other ideas that we thought might help him (and his brother) as well. The benefit of us, as parents also doing jiu-jitsu, is that we can relate to everything he goes through and struggles with in terms of jiu-jitsu.
The first thing we told him was to roll with at least one white belt each class. This was advice I had gotten many times as a way to measure my progress. It worked so great with me that it made me feel a little stupid that we never thought to tell the same to our kids until recently. Drew always felt like he was stuck rolling with the kids that were always just a step or two ahead and so he was constantly getting defeated and never getting an opportunity to work on his submissions. It was also so hard for him to see and recognize his progress when he was always getting beat. Rolling with white belts showed him how far he has come and he has been able to work on so many different submissions, sweeps, passes, etc. It’s been a great source of motivation and instead of walking off the mat sad and defeated, he’ll say, “Did you see that triangle I got!” It’s made a huge difference!
The second form of motivation might be a little controversial, but hey, it’s working for us so…whatever. We have what we are calling the $5 Challenge. I give the boys a challenge for class and if they complete it, they get $5. It could be things like getting a particular submission, sweep, or pass or not getting mounted or taking the back. The challenge stays in place until they complete it and earn the money, then we find a new challenge. What I like about it is that both boys were kind of stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over, especially the same submission.
Americana, Americana, Americana.
They both had also gotten really lazy and just completely lost the fight they used to have when people would try to pass. The “not getting mounted” challenge has been amazing!
So, it might sound bad to some that we are paying our kids to do jiu-jitsu, but honestly I’ve never seen them so motivated or working this hard and also progressing much faster. A lot of times we base the challenge on what they are learning in class. When they were working on triangles, that was their challenge, to get a triangle. It took both of them many classes, many attempts, many failures, and many adjustments, but eventually they both got it. It was so much fun to see them finally get the submission and watch them work through the adjustments to get it. It has been a great opportunity for them to learn that you will probably fail a submission many, many times before you get it, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying. Another great thing about it is how much it adds to their toolbox of skills. I’ve seen both of them continue to use and build on the challenges they have completed and they are attempting so much more each roll.
We, as adults, can understand how beneficial getting out of your comfort zone is, but that’s not always a concept that kids easily get. I feel like the $5 Challenge has been a great source for them to learn about getting out of your comfort zone and how rewarding that can be.
I’m really happy with where our kids are in jiu-jitsu right now. More importantly, THEY are really happy with jiu-jitsu right now. A few months ago we couldn’t mention anything jiu-jitsu related without Drew rolling his eyes or groaning. A few weeks ago we couldn’t get Drew to stop doing flying armbars on his dad in the pool. Jiu-jitsu is tough, we all know that, but I think, if we can find motivation, give ourselves challenges, and step out of that comfort zone, it’s the best thing we can do for ourselves.