• Dainis Nguyen-Huu

The Most Effective Approach For Teaching Kids Martial Arts

I have implemented many different approaches for teaching kids Martial Arts but have only found one approach that has worked well for all kids across the board. That approach is encouraging them to have a growth mindset.

Coach high five
Photo credit: The Gentle Art @thegentleartfightphoto www.thegentleart.ca

Putting the emphasis on things a child cannot control, like winning a gold medal in a certain competition or beating a certain opponent is an effective strategy for discouraging and demotivating a child because when they fail they will feel horrible about themselves and feel as if they are a failure. Don't get me wrong, heaving goals is great, as they can be an excellent tool to motivate a child but you must praise them wisely and focus only on those things within their locus of control like their effort, strategies, improvement, and focus. An example would be Johnny wins Silver at the Whitby Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open competition, the natural response would be to say something along the lines of: "Great job Johnny on winning that Silver medal". The problem with that praise is that it focuses mainly a certain medal, which he is not guaranteed to win, no matter how good he is. How about if the next time he competes in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition he doesn't do as well? He's not going to feel great about himself as he equates his self worth to winning a silver medal as that's what his praise was centred around. Using the growth mindset strategy, a better response would be:"Great job Johnny, I'm so proud of your effort, you worked so hard and your focus in class this past month has been excellent, all of your hard work is paying off, congratulations on the silver medal!" Notice the difference? The latter statement was focusing on what the child did well within their locus of control and the gold medal was mentioned afterwards. It might not seem like much but now the child will now be motivated to keep doing all of those positive things within their control which in turn will continue to yield improvements which in turn you will control to praise etc. Apply this approach in your martial arts program and watch as your kids become more motivated and resilient then you've ever seen them before along with happily taking on new challenges with an air of confidence.


For more information, watch the video below by Carol Dweck or pick up her book called: "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success"

If you are located in Durham Region and are interested in enrolling your child or yourself in martial arts, come try a full week of free classes at DNA BJJ to see why we are right gym for your family. Your child's first class will be an intro to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lesson with one of our experenced instructors where they will learn how to fall safely, fundamental movements, and to help them get comfortable in a new environment.


Does your child feel too intimidated to try a class? Check out our schedule and come watch one of our classes from our viewing area with your child to see what we are all about. We specialize in teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but also have a Judo and Wrestling program to complement it.


Contact us today to book your child's free intro to BJJ lesson and kickstart thier jiu jitsu journey. We are located in Durham and currently have Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes for age 4 to 100. We offer wrestling, judo, and no gi. We are beginner friendly. With Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes near Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, and Brooklin.

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