This started as a blog about training together as a family, in part to inspire other women & families to get involved. As female participation in jiu jitsu has increased, as we have grown as athletes and as we learned that families training together aren’t such an anomaly, the blog has evolved. Jen gets personal with posts on ambition, challenges & achievements in BJJ, CrossFit & with nutrition, while Tom's posts are more educational, informative and analytical in regards to training. On occasion you may hear from the kids.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How Young is Too Young?

by Jen

Logan and Hunter plan to compete in the May NAGA. This will be Hunter’s first competition. He loves BJJ, and it shows as he smiles and giggles while he rolls. Marcelo, along with Tom and I, have made it clear that he will need to get more serious in order to prepare. Until now, we have not entered him in competition because we have not felt he was ready. I am a little nervous, but we will see how it goes now that the goal of competition is in sight.

The last thing I want to do is push him to the point where BJJ is not fun for him any more. As a side note, his New Year's resolution was to earn his Yellow Belt so training for NAGA should go hand in hand with achieving this resolution.

I’m wondering what others think about the right age for competition. We noticed that NAGA has divisions for 3-4 years olds. I’m not sure I agree with this – do these kids even know what they are doing? What do you think? What is the right age?

As far as training this week –

I enjoyed all of the drilling that we did Monday and Tuesday night - going to the back and from guard. Last night I worked with one of our blue belts with vast wrestling experience. He is always helpful.

I returned to CrossFit on Monday and it was brutal. I planned to go this morning, but in keeping with my commitment to listen to my body, I decided to make today a true rest day. One more BJJ class tomorrow will make 3 for the week, the same for CrossFit if I go Friday and Saturday.

I’m preparing for the Heraean games on March 26th. I was thrilled to see that this competition has a 40+ age division. I do not anticipate placing well because I’m still scaling and doing assisted pullups, but it will be fun to give it a try.


  1. The kids' class I teach starts at 7 years old, so I don't know about actual ages. But I would think it would have more to do with an individual kid's emotional maturity level and how you think he'll handle it. I've seen lots of kids crying at tournaments when they lose (and not nearly enough parents using this as a learning experience for the kids).

    Also, cute TKD kids competing. :P

  2. I know my son would not be ready (he is 5). But some kids actually enjoy tournaments and have lots of fun at them. Like Leslie said, I think it depends on the child. If they are excited about it and want to do it, I say let them try. But if they are scared, I wouldn't push it. Good luck in your training for the competition!

  3. My daughter is 2 and I cannot imagine her competing in 1 or two years. I think 3-4 fopr my daughter is too young. Can a child who is only 3 even have the skills to compete at 3? 6 months of training would mean they start training at 2 1/2?

  4. I was just at a tournament where 5 and 6 year olds were the youngest age group to compete. Some of those little kids were very good. Some were scared, some laid on their tummies on the mat. Some older kids were scared and didn't want to fight, others fought and lost and cried and some just cried.

    The tournament was really well run though with the referees paying very close attention to all fighters and EMTs checking every small injury.

    I think 3 and 4 would be too young. But we have a 6 year old who has been training for about 6 months and I think she would do very well in competition. If she wanted to.

  5. My youngest son, Joe started training in Karate at age three or four. The instructor approached me about starting him in class early, because Joe had learned a lot of techniques just by watching. His techniques were spot on too. He had been watching his brother and I train for about a year. He didn't compete until he was about twelve. Could he have competed at three or four? I suppose he could have and done well. However, most martial arts children at that age probably are still playing at martial arts and not learning it. I think it has to depend on the child and the child's motivation to compete. At that young age, it's probably more like a play date than actual competing. The important thing a parent should remember is to support you child's interests, not push them like an olympic athelete. At any age, there is a fine line between supporting and pushing.

  6. Thanks for the great feedback. I'm going to let him continue to train for NAGA and then let him decide if wants to carry through to competition. We have a few months to go and he'll be 8 by then. @ Combat - For a while he had been playing, but I've seen a shift in him over the last few months. Makes me proud, but it's also hard to watch your "baby" grow up.