Occasionally, some parents will mention to me that their child no longer wants to train martial arts and ask my opinion on whether or not they should allow their child to do so. This is what I tell them….
The first thing I point out is that we know that a good education is important. Imagine if we allowed our children to quit school as soon they did not want to go anymore. If we allowed this, I think we would have barely any children in school. As adults and parents, we understand the future benefits of a good education that a child cannot comprehend. Similarly, we have our kids do martial arts because we also know there are so many benefits to their lives that our children may not fully be able to foresee or comprehend at the moment. As a result, just as how I would not allow my child to quit school, I would not allow them to quit martial arts. In my opinion, as a parent, one of my goals is to prepare my children for life and I believe that martial arts is an essential part of that.
The second thing I mention is that, in general, children do what is pleasant for them and avoid what is unpleasant for them. If we, as parents, allow our children to quit doing something as soon as it becomes unpleasant, unentertaining, or difficult, our children would never accomplish anything significant in their lives. Many have heard the saying that you learn many valuable life lessons from playing sports. I disagree with this statement. I prefer to say, “You learn many valuable life lessons in the process of trying to get a good at a sport.” Anyone can be mediocre. Mediocrity can be achieved without trying very hard. Valuable life lessons are not learned from putting half effort and not striving to be the best you can be. Valuable life lessons are not learned from quitting when things get unpleasant, unentertaining, or difficult. In life, any accomplishment that is meaningful or significant is always accompanied by difficulty and hardship.
The last thing I point out is that we have many adults in our BJJ program who are starting their training in their 30’s and 40’s. Whenever they see our children training or competing, I always hear them say, “I wish I started when I was their age.” Heck, I started BJJ when I was 17 and I wish I started at an even younger age. When I ask these adult BJJ students, “If you could go back in time and start training BJJ when you were in elementary school, would you do it? And if you did it, would you tell your parents to never let you quit no matter what?” The answer is always the same. They all say, “Absolutely.”
Head BJJ Instructor