Confidence Built on Training and Teamwork
There are many reported benefits from doing a martial art that extend beyond the physical. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), in this sense, is a holistic martial art in that promotes confidence, discipline, respect, and friendship while building strength, coordination, flexibility, and balance. In this article, we will share some of the benefits of BJJ for children and share some of our team’s stories. We hear from Stefi, Pep and Luka from our St George, Liverpool and Warringah Mall gyms.
Full name, age and belt ranking
Stefi Angelevski. 15 years old. Green belt.
How long have you been doing BJJ for?
I’ve been training since I was 5 years old, so 11 years altogether.
I’ve competed in over 30 comps at the state, national and Australasian levels. My record is 28 wins from 31 comps. For those that are interested, you can watch my previous comp wins on my YouYube channel: https://m.youtube.com/user/ZAKIANDSTEFIBJJ
What do you like about training BJJ?
The BJJ community as a whole is a large influence on my passion for the sport. I like being able to see myself and those around me better ourselves over time, both in technique and as individuals. BJJ is something I’ve come to love more and more over the years.
What’s your favourite BJJ move and why?
Bow and arrow. If taught correctly, it’s a move that can be utilised time and time again, as there many ways to tweak and alter it to your own build.
BJJ helps children to develop confidence. Some children are naturally outgoing, but others may be shy or not as social as others. Training BJJ will provide children with an opportunity to develop both the confidence they need to grow into confident teenagers and adults. Whether they are athletic or not, BJJ is a place where children can develop mastery of technical skills and receive positive reinforcement from their teachers and peers. BJJ focuses on building confidence through hard training.
BJJ teaches children many of life’s lessons, and one of these lessons is how to defend yourself. BJJ, primarily, teaches children self-defence rather than how to fight. In training, children learn how to defend themselves, they learn how to gain control of a situation, and they learn how to keep themselves safe. BJJ is not about encouraging children to fight, it is about giving them the skills to defend themselves and to find a way out of a difficult situation. Also, because BJJ is hands-on, the confidence in their BJJ skills and ability to defend themselves that they gain from training will be based in a real understanding of their strengths. Some martial arts may incorporate flashy moves and fancy kicks, and while these techniques may be fun, they are not going to carry over into real life scenarios, which could give your child a false sense of confidence.
Pep Archer Brown
Name and Belt Ranking?
Pep Archer Brown and Yellow belt
2 years and 3 months
1st Place, 8 yrs under 30kg Gi - Grappling Industries
What do you like about training BJJ?
Pep does BJJ because he wants to learn self defence, and it’s fun!
Favourite move is the arm bar
Physical strength and coordination
Another noted benefit of BJJ is the physical strength and coordination that comes from persistent training. Today’s society is relatively sessile in that children may spend hours playing video games, watching television, or staying inside. BJJ provides an opportunity for children to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle, and teaching them healthy habits at a young age will set up the foundations for a healthy life. Perhaps the Gracie Diet is not for everyone, but children will burn off energy, increase their flexibility, improve their balance and coordination, and will build cardio endurance.
Discipline, resilience, and Friendship
BJJ teaches children discipline and can support the development of the often overlooked quality of resilience. The physical benefits are impressive, but the mental benefits are just as important. Through training, children can develop a sense of discipline which results from the “never give up” attitude that BJJ instils in people. It can take years of training and competing to attain a Black Belt, and this develops resilience along the way. A child will not win every fight, it may take years for them to master a technique to the point of effortlessness, but the persistence builds resilience. BJJ is also a martial art in that a good teacher will be strict on children, they will make them wear their gi neatly, to bow when they enter and leave the mat, to have good hygiene, they will make them show respect to their teachers and peers, they will guide them through the history of jiu-jitsu and BJJ, and they will teach them about the spirit of the samurai and to have loyalty, respect and honour.
Friendship, this is an enduring benefit of BJJ for both children and adults. BJJ is a community, and your training partners will become your family.
Name and Belt Ranking?
Luka Dargeyko and grey-black belt
Luka has been training for one year.
Gold Medal at 2018 NSW State Championships and current State Champion for mixed white-to-grey-black belt 6 year old 26kg
What do you like about training BJJ?
It’s fun! I like doing forward and backward rolls and fighting.
Favourite move is the Ippon Seoinage (one are shoulder throw)
What is motivation?
Research abounds on motivation and theories of motivation. It has been shown in myriad ways that without motivation we do not learn, we do not perform, and we do not achieve. So coming in to the end of a hard year of training, it is time to reflect upon what keeps us motivated to train BJJ. In this post, we asked some of our ROOTS team members to share their thoughts on what keeps them motivated. However, before we hear their stories, what is motivation?
Intrinsic Motivation – the holy grail of motivation
When we look at motivation, we seek to explain an individual’s goal-directed behaviour. There are three main factors that influence motivation:
Aleks Stojkovski (ROOTS Instructor Milperra)
Why do you train BJJ? Growing up I was always involved in many different sports but I always found martial arts interesting and it was only a matter of time till I was going to try it. Growing up watching Rocky, Rambo, Conan, Bloodsport and Enter The Dragon movies everyday and with a little encouragement from Robert Naumoski that’s all it took for me to train BJJ. As a little kid, I remember one of my cousins was friends with Rob and I always looked up to them because they looked fit, strong, won medals and always fought in kickboxing, boxing and just anything to do with fighting.
How long have you been training BJJ? I have trained BJJ for 8 years.
Home gym? Milperra Roots
Why do you compete? I see competition as part of the martial arts and I enjoy fighting. Also as a coach I like to lead by example and test my skills against other competitors and be a role model that other people can look up to. Competitions motivate me to train more and improve for next time no matter the result; I also enjoy collecting medals which is a bonus that comes when competing.
What keeps you motivated? Motivation comes in many different forms for me. One of them is competing the other can vary from learning new skills, staying fit or just being on the mats and rolling. Being a part of the Roots Milperra gym is really important for me, because we all work together for the common goal, to improve our jiu-jitsu and motivate each other on and off the mat.
Favourite part of training? Favourite part of training would have to be coaching and rolling with all the guys at the gym. That moment when I look up and see everyone is training hard and they are thinking about their next move, this is what I see as a team.
Anything else? Looking forward to see what my Brown belt journey brings and I always encourage people to try jiu-jitsu at least once in their life. It will make you a humble, respectful and confident person that is a guarantee!!!!!
Alice Lam (ROOTS Botany)
Why do you train BJJ? I have always had an interest with martial arts. I had been training Shotokan Karate for over 15 years and really wanted to add something to my training, a whole new challenge. I tried BJJ and fell in love from day one. It complemented the 5 principles of combat; Evade, Enter, Close Quarter, Take Down, Complete. Karate touches on the first 2.5 principles and BJJ completed the last 2.5 principles. BJJ also helps me build confidence, reboots my mind when I step onto the mats, keeps me fit and active, and overall makes me happy.
How long have you been training BJJ? I started in February 2016, so just under 3 years now.
Home gym? I train at Roots Botany under Professor James Hampton.
Why do you compete? I started competing in karate too late in the game when I was already a brown belt. This made the competition world very difficult to grasp and I didn’t want this happening with my jiu-jitsu so I made sure I started competing pretty much since the beginning. It has been challenging dealing with the nerves of competition but it has bettered me each time. Being able to get out there and test myself against the other competitors really helps develop my jiu-jitsu. You learn from both your losses and your wins. Stepping up to the challenge is part of training on its own in the sense that you're putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation and fighting your way out of it. I compete to test myself, learn and improve my jiu-jitsu. Of course winning is a very a rewarding feeling also :)
What keeps you motivated? In life, I am constantly striving to do better, to learn more, to experience more and this motivates me with my jiu-jitsu. I am motivated by constantly wanting to improve my techniques, learn new techniques, better myself and look forward to all the experiences that can come with my training such as seminars with world champions and travelling for competition. A major motivating factor is my team at Botany. We are always pushing each other to excel and our instructor Professor James is constantly pushing us forward and challenging us.
Favourite part of training? The fitness and discipline aspect. The challenge. The friendships made, the Roots Botany team are almost like my second family.
Anything else? This year has been an amazing year for me. Coming back from a broken leg for pretty much the whole second half of the competition session last year, I really wanted to knuckle down with my training and competing. The Pan Pacific Championships were the goal for the year and being able to come home with the gold was an incredible feeling. However the highlight this year had to be winning the double gold at the NSW State Championships in Gi and NoGi. I am really looking forward to next year's challenges. Martial arts isn’t for everyone, BJJ even for a lessor few, but it is such a rewarding art form and beneficial to all. It is fun yet tough at the same time. It develops your mind as much as your body. BJJ is also one of the most effective martial arts for self-defence so it is definitely a skill set everyone should have. I highly recommend BJJ to everyone and anyone who wants to build confidence, learn self-defence, or wants to learn an effective and traditional martial art.
Walid Kouatly (ROOTS Chinatown)
Why do you train BJJ? To keep fit, learn self-defence, improve problem-solving skills, compete, learn the art of jiu-jitsu, improve discipline and continue to evolve as a person.
How long have you been training BJJ? I have been training with Roots since July 2017. Before that I did a lot of weights in the past and a bit of grapping-style conditioning exercises as well as ‘youtube’ BJJ which is no way near comparison when coached in real-life by experienced and qualified BJJ coaches.
Home gym? Roots Chinatown, under Professor Paulo Guimaraes. I also visit Root Rockdale on weekends close to comps, and occasionally Roots Botany.
Why do you compete? To apply what I have learned, learn from my mistakes, experience the rush, and put myself out of my comfort zone and of course enjoy the victories for me and Team Roots.
What keeps you motivated? I enjoying being challenged and I enjoy the sense of achievement and growth. I am motivated by small goals I set to myself, from tapping less or barely surviving when rolling with senior belts, to winning tournaments and championships. I also motivated by overcoming difficulties.
Favourite part of training?
There is fighting, and Then there is fighting
Khabib Nurmagomedov completely dominated and then submitted Conor McGregor in the fourth round of UFC 229 in Las Vegas at the start of this month. What happened after put a whole new meaning to the term “terrific performance” when he jumped out of the cage and started to fight with one of Conor’s trainers, BJJ Black Belt, Dillon Danis. Here we want to hear your views on self-defence, provocation, honour, and fighting. Why? Because we are a Jiu-Jitsu school, and we teach self-defence and not just competition preparation, and our motto is Respect. Honour. Loyalty. Family.
Sportsmanship, Honour, and Fighting
Let’s get some of the factors and facts clarified before we look at self-defence and fighting. The general rule, according to Australian law, regarding self-defence is that a person is allowed to take any defensive or evasive steps that they believe to be necessary. From there on in, it can get hazy as to self-defence, provocation, and the perception that you are going to be harmed. So was Khabib fighting in self-defence when he jumped the cage? Perhaps not, but he had definitely been provoked by Dillon, who had been insulting Khabib’s family, religion, and country. So he was fighting for his honour as a real fighter does. Honour comes before the money. Khabib posted on Instagram on October 12, after the fight:
And one more thing, you can keep my money that you are withholding. You are pretty busy with that, I hope it won’t get stuck in your throat. We have defended our honor and this is the most important thing.
According to commentators, such as Joe Rogan, who were ring side, he was provoking Khabib throughout the fight. While we are not trying to persuade you to take sides, Dillon has a track record of bad behaviour, and he and fellow fighter, Mansher Khera, were expelled from Marcelo Garcia Jiu-Jitsu Gym in April, 2017. Despite the provocation, much of the rhetoric in the press about Khabib jumping the cage seems to be negative in that what he did by taking the fight outside of the cage was somehow poor sportsmanship. A fighter should not fight out of the cage. Let’s get one thing straight, he was not going to fight some old man on the street, he was going to fight another fighter. However, the press has been critical.
Commentator, Joe, was overtly scathing in his criticism of Khabib just after the fight. "This is horrible. This is the nastiest thing I've ever seen," Rogan stated. He added, "Khabib jumping out of the Octagon and attacking someone in the crowd is so stupid and so unnecessary and so foolish after such a spectacular victory”. He has since come forward to clarify that Dillon was provoking Khabib through the fight. Just as a side note, Conor got his pay out, but Khabib’s $2 million fight purse is still being held.
So let’s clear this up. It is okay to fight in a cage, and that is sport, but once the fight goes on outside of the cage it is foolish and bad sportsmanship? Even if he is being provoked? Is this always the case? Did Jiu-Jitsu and MMA start out as a sport like golf, ballet, or soccer? Not really, here we turn to “vale tudo”, or “no rules” fighting.
In 1980, Rickson Gracie, Hélio Gracie’s third biological son, faced Rei Zulu in his first ever vale tudo match. He was thrown out of the ring, but went on to get a rear naked choke on Zulu.
The Gracies and Vale Tudo
Vale Tudo, or no rules fighting comes from Brazil, where, in the early 20th Century, combat contests known as “vale tudo” were gaining popularity at carnivals and festivals. These were no rules fights that pitted two men against each other in a ring or open space for the entertainment of on-lookers. There were no time limits, no weigh-ins, and no rules. These matches were the basis of modern MMA (i.e. UFC) fights. These matches were not an organised sport as MMA is today, and there were no promotions, belt or weight classes, or championships. Also, fighters represented their styles and their schools more so than just themselves. So it was a bit more of a team focus, you fought for your team.
Vale tudo did not develop in a nice clean progression that can be traced back to one original fight. The growth was organic, and evolved and changed, and was even banned in the USA, until it developed into something that strongly resembled modern MMA. So cage fighting had its humble beginnings as street fighting and no rules fights in Brazil.
So what do the Gracies have to say about vale tudo? They were at the forefront of issuing challenges for vale tudo matches. The Gracie challenge was first issued by Carlos Gracie in the 1920s to promote and develop the Gracie's style of jiu-jitsu. It was also show that it was superior to other styles of martial arts. The vale tudo matches typically featured a smaller Gracie versus a larger or more athletic looking opponent. Carlos and Hélio Gracie and their sons defeated martial artists of many different styles such as boxing, judo, karate, and wrestling, while experiencing few losses. So BJJ was not a nice organised sport as we see today. It was not just for self-defence, but was also a legitimate fighting style.
That sentiment has not faltered. In 2014, at the Metamoris 3 professional jiu-jitsu competition, Royce Gracie went backstage to confront Eddie Bravo about comments made against the Gracie family, and, unsurprisingly, things quickly escalated between the two fighters until a trainer, Jean Jacques Machado, was forced to intervene. Here is what Royce Gracie stated about their altercation:
I met him after the fight and he was there, throwing up. Royler dominated him so much, he did so much strength, that he threw up after the fight. I told him that I liked what he said after the fight, but didn't like the fact that he always talked trash about Royler and my family. He stood up and started yelling, so I also raised the tone of my voice and told him I didn't like it. I'm a vale-tudo fighter. I'm not a fighter to score points of fight with time limit. Let's (fight) with no time limit and with punches allowed. I'm a vale-tudo fighter, I don't compete in (grappling) tournaments.
Going back even further than the Gracies, jiu-jitsu tournaments in Feudal Japan were dangerous affairs. While there was not an organised schedule of tournaments, there were competitions between jujutsu schools. Informal rules were developed during these competitions that laid the foundations for 20th Century competition rules. In the historic competition rules, the most dangerous techniques were actually restricted, and bouts ended when one competitor was in submission, pinned, thrown flat on his back, or incapacitated. However, despite these rules, it is evident that early jujutsu competitions were dangerous, and, knowing they might not return alive, competitors often bid their families farewell before travelling to a competition.
The Samurai fought with limited rules which paved the way modern fighting, and the Gracie family promoted BJJ through fighting. A long history of fighting eventually became MMA and then evolved in to the UFC juggernaut that we see today.
Fighting and cage jumping and you
Here we want to hear your views. Is what Khahib did wrong or bad sportsmanship? Is UFC getting too soft? So how far have we drifted from our roots?
ROOTS BJJ News
ROOTS HQ is the team writer for ROOTS BJJ. ROOTS HQ will cover all the news and views on BJJ. Drop us a line through the contact page if you have any news to share.