At the height of my ten-year-old daughter’s excitement to “try karate”, my nephew and his wife, both black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) in Mississippi, got my attention. They insisted we try a family-owned BJJ studio in our community, in order to get the best possible outlook on Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
My eldest two children trained in a local MMA studio about a decade before, so I had that experience in mind…and it was good. We stopped because, frankly, I kept having babies and I succumbed to social pressure to try soccer teams, etc. Later, I did regret this because it’s a classic case of “penny-wise, but pound foolish”. Paying for monthly martial arts lessons was more costly than seasonal team sports, so I thought I was being smart. Instead, I wish I somehow worked it out into my budget because the training was better for them than the soccer was, after all.
But I digress. I found Muller BJJ because Professor Tom Mueller was familiar with the studio at which my eldest children trained, so I searched for him. Plus, my expert nephew knew him and let me know his name was respected for a very good reason. He was trustworthy and his program would reflect the best my kids could get. It didn’t take long to find him and boy was my nephew right!
Still, at first, I was afraid my little girl would get hurt “grappling” with the boys, a concern that proved foolish.
The co-ed environment is welcoming and the ages are integrated as if the children are part of a family, learning together. We do not separate brothers and sisters in early in life and Muller BJJ showed me there is no need to separate them in the early years of training – and sometimes not at all, depending on the athlete.
As my little girl entered the Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, no uniform, no idea how to begin, I was amazed how the instructors and her peers worked her into the art of training like they knew her forever. This is not common. MMA franchises are everywhere and many martial arts studios present contracts before personal connection. She broke a smile within the first 2 minutes and broke a sweat during the first 5 minutes, crawling on the soft mat with the other children; their natural, more primal desires to play integrated with their desire to concentrate, to learn so they could be better at what was coming next.
Groundwork from the new BJJ parent’s “window” view: It looks like wrestling at first, but a Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class has got a lot more going on than pinning for points, I would soon learn from watching. I saw the instructors lend their knowledge by adapting their voices and getting on the floor, knowing just when to lean in and back off depending on the “players” – a term for BJJ martial artists. My daughter learned by doing, immediately taking to the class as if she was born into the craft.
At first glance, 5 or 6 pairs of little, grappling figures look less graceful than what I knew, Kata (form in Karate, much like a choreographed series of strikes and stances). Then, I kept watching and noticed the children’s minds were working all the time, calculating current and potential moves of their own and their opponents. I started to look at BJJ as a sort of full-body game of chess. My daughter came alive in it and without any pressure from the Professor and by week’s end, she was fitted for her own uniform.
It is clear, as a mother, I have done something very good, something life-enhancing, by letting her (and now her little brother) join Muller BJJ.
The facilities themselves are in new condition and it is abundantly clear that they are maintained well and is a safe environment for our kids. Professor Tom and his team which includes (Coach Tom English, Coach Kyle Van Gelder, and Coach Julia Mullane) manage to be warm while providing no-nonsense, age-appropriate training through separate classes involving both striking and Jiu-Jitsu. It’s not accidental. It is because the reference I was given played out to be true. Tom Muller is not only a black belt and an expert in his craft, but he is also a father and as such, he leads his students with the kind of balance I could trust.
In the words of my little girl, “Muller BJJ feels like another home to me. It makes me feel happy to do Jiu-Jitsu with my friends there. Now, I am in another class there where I can hit! I love putting on gloves so I can punch and kick the bags. I love it because it makes me strong and it’s fun. I even got a stripe on my belt!”
If you are looking to start your kids in a martial art, the Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program at Muller BJJ is top-notch! Get involved today!