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Judo is a Japanese martial art and Olympic sport created in 1882, and refined ever since. Its origins date back to various styles of Japanese ju-jitsu, but its creator, Dr Jigoro Kano, made sure that Judo only included some of the safer grappling techniques of ju-jutsu, and no punches and kicks (though higher grades train these as well, in the form of judo kata). Its self-defense applications aside, judo is a great sport and fun physical activity for kids (and adults), helping them develop balance, coordination, strength, motor skills, and channeling their natural physicality and energy in a more disciplined way.

In our club, younger kids mostly learn judo through ‘judo games’, specific fun exercises designed to mimic basic judo moves and break-falls (i.e. safe ways of falling to the ground). Basic throws are also taught. Older children are gradually taught more throwing and immobilisation techniques. Submission techniques are not taught to kids. Adults are taught the whole BJA/IJF syllabus (but also some of the takedowns that are no longer permitted in competitions, e.g. kata guruma or morote gari). The British Judo Association, to which our instructor Glenn Spiers is affiliated, has one of the safest and more comprehensive syllabi for teaching judo to children and adults.

Equipment – for your first few classes a long sleeve t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms are absolutely fine. After that you’ll probably want to consider purchasing a judo uniform (called judogi).

More info about BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a Brazilian martial art and combat sport created and rendered popular by the Gracie family in the 20th century. It is an off-shoot of judo (though enriched with techniques borrowed from various wrestling styles, and Russian Sambo), so it is also based on grappling, but emphasizes extremely skilful and tactical grappling on the ground, rather than in a standing position (as judo does). And guess what … children are natural ground grapplers! You will have no doubt seen your kids having tons of fun rolling around with their dad, mum, siblings, and little friends! BJJ provides a structured path to learning ground grappling positions (bjj emphasizing ‘positioning before submissions’) and techniques, and complements extremely well judo training. Most of the Gracie family members, men and women, have started their first BJJ classes at the age of 3 or 4, so the Gracie system of teaching kids is tested and popular.

In our club, kids learn BJJ through playing, and with an emphasis on safety. Glenn (who is also a brown belt under Carlson Gracie London) teaches kids all the transitions, sweeps, and positioning of BJJ but, for safety reasons, none of the actual submissions that are only taught to adults. Adult beginners can be expected to do quite a bit of bjj/ne-waza, while honing their ukemi. It is only once they are able to fall properly that Glenn will allow them to do some tachi-waza randori. To be clear, and avoid any misunderstandings, for the time being we exclusively grade in judo (though that may change in the future).

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