When can my child compete in Judo?

Last month I shared in our newsletter  about the benefits of competing in both Judo and Brazilian Jiujitsu. It is not enforced here at BGC, but recommended, when you are ready of course.

But what about kids? When are kids ready to compete?

That’s a great question.

Here at BGC I am following the Long Term Athlete Development model used by many mainstream sports around the world. This model is designed with the idea to help kids develop the physical skills to compete, such as balance, spatial awareness, basic techniques etc before throwing them into the deep end when it comes to competing.

The LTAD model touches on the idea that many children aren’t mentally and emotionally mature to handle loss after loss and it may damage their love for the sport which in turn, makes them quit the sport – especially in an individual sport like Judo.

You may notice that many of the games I play here at the club are highly inclusive, there is no ‘your out-sit on the side of the mat’ sort of games. Instead we are all in it together, training, winning and losing whilst developing the physical and mental skills needed to compete in both Judo and other sports.

I have been around Judo and competition for a long, long time, and have been a state coach for over a decade. Unfortunately I have seen time and time again kids put into Judo competition before they are ready, lose a few matches and then quit as a result.

This is why I want to do it differently here at BGC.

So how and when can my kids compete?

Great question. You know how I talked about the LTAD model, well it is flawed to an extent, as it doesn’t always take the individual into consideration. You see, when I was a kid I was very competitive, and so I was put into high level competitions at a young age and I thrived. However, none of my peers did – in fact, many quit the sport soon after losing their first comp and none of them are still involved in judo today.

So why did I thrive? Because I am a born competitor. I love competing. So what I am trying to say is this. The model of LTAD is great, but we need to look at each student in a case-by-case scenario. Does your child currently have the mental and emotional capacity to enter competition? If not, then we wait until they are mentally and emotionally ready so that we can cultivate their competitive edge, not destroy it. And we do this through play fighting games at the club such as sumo, and randori (sparring). By observing your child in a ‘competitive environment’ we will be able to see if they are ready for competing. Judo is such a fantastic sport and I want students to develop a love for it, and stick around for a long time to enjoy the numerous benefits.

If you have any questions or want to know if your child is fit to compete, please ask me J