Saturday, November 6, 2010

From women to kids and back

Alex started training with us this summer. She's a tiny sweet little 10 year old vietnamese girl with an incredible amount of focus, determination, and of course a heart of steel!

When I first told Ryan that we'd been approached by a parent who wanted his child to switch to our program, his answer was a definitive, "no". We weren't planning to start a kids program for a while and we didn't want any children in the adult class. But her dad told us she was a focused hard-worker. According to him, she was training in Judo and BJJ but he was unhappy that her BJJ class was geared towards younger children, expectations were low and she wasn't getting great training. Having spent 15 years as a swim coach, I was inclined to roll my eyes and look the other way when yet another parent came extolling the virtues of their child. But something about the discussion made me give her a chance. I guess I understood how frustrating it can be to watch adults overlook or teach down to kids when they are capable of learning and understanding as much as an adult if you only have the patience to try and speak their language.

Ryan and I decided that we would allow Alex come in and take one women only class for her trial. If she performed acceptably and was able to stay focused and work hard, then we would let her take the class until the time came to start the kids program. We were concerned that she would detract from the other women's opportunity to learn and train or that they (and she) would have difficulty with the size difference (she's only 60lbs). But when Alex came in for her trial, Ryan and I were both pleasantly surprised with her and with her interaction with the other women so we decided that she would be able to attend the women's class once a week.

The ladies have taken her under their wing and she works hard and pays attention to all the important details. Even though we had yet to see her train BJJ with another child, we decided a few weeks ago that she was ready to try a competition. And she did awesome! Alex won only 2 of her 5 matches but she went out and performed better every single time. We went over her mistakes after each match and then she went back out and fixed them ON THE SPOT. She was a different grappler by the last 2 matches of the day. I don't know if she will ever be a great high-level grappler, but it doesn't matter because she had a blast and represented herself, her family, and her team well. What I do know is that she has what it takes to be great at whatever she puts her mind to.

Lots of people cringe when I tell them we are about to start a kids program. All they see is hard work, frustration, screaming kids and crazy parents. I see the kids like Alex. The ones who know the pleasure they can derive from working hard, constantly improving, and succeeding in something worthwhile. The kids with the great attitudes that make you want to show up every single day. And I see the ones who need you to want to help them, the ones who need to learn how to find the inner peace that comes with hard work. I've been looking forward to getting this program off the ground for months and seeing how happy Alex was today, tells me that we are doing the right thing. She'll have to be my little helper while my arm and hip are healing and the other kids are learning, but with her as a role model, we have a good thing going.

November 29, 2010 - The Birth Of The 25/50's


  1. Congratulations Alex! Good luck with the kids program. We've seen some dedicated kids at our school and I'm sure you'll see the same.

  2. Love this! Great work, you guys! Any tips for how to give a budding 5 year old a start in BJJ? My son is chomping at the bit to learn, so I've started showing him a few things at home. What do you usually teach first?


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