How Does MMA play into Kid-Jitsu®

Larry Shealy // Uncategorized


August 1  

Kids and MMA

How Does MMA play into Kid-Jitsu®

I may sound like a broken record, but some things are just worth repeating, over and over and over again. It’s probably because I’m a slow learner….who knows?

Anyway, as I’ve said, I learned Gracie Jiu-Jitsu as an art that one does not need to be BIG or FAST or STRONG or ATHLETIC. The 1stfour UFC Fights in the early 1990’s proved that to be true, as Royce Gracie shocked the martial arts world with his family style of Ground Fighting, that at that time, nobody in America seemed to be familiar with.

Royce was not a menacing character, (though that stare could be quite menacing!), he was in the 175lb range, long and lanky, not particularly strong looking. But he had the family ‘secrets’ in the way of the leverage, timing and techniques of his craft, made him a martial arts sensation. He changed the fight game with….Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

So what does this have to do with Kid-Jitsu®? Well, it has everything to do with Kid-Jitsu® because that is the style of Jiu-Jitsu I’ve spent learning and training in for over 20 years now, and that is the ‘style’ of Jiu-Jitsu that I teach to my students, adults and children, and fellow Martial Arts Instructors.

Please understand that in the Kids Classes we mainly stress Position and Control, and when it’s age appropriate, we share submissions, but NOTHING is full 100% like in an adult class. We are not deep in the collar, and we are not fully straightening arms for arm bars, or torqueing shoulders with Kimuras…….SAFETY is paramount.

Kid-Jitsu® and MMA

The Gracie’s brought BJJ to the United States. Rorion Gracie had his younger brother fight in the first UFC’s to prove that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was a superior fighting system, in comparison to the other styles of Martial Arts. In essence Gracie Jiu-Jitsu had already been proven in Brazil in Vale Tudo fights for many years with the likes of Helio in the early days, Carlson Gracie, and Rickson Gracie, among others making a mark in the fighting world in Brazil. The Gracie’s promoted their art as a Self-Defense system as well.

As Kid-Jitsu® is a children friendly version of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it only makes sense that we also have access to an MMA Curriculum for kids that is just as safe, just as organized and just as effective. And we DO! It is actually the Self-Defense System integrated into a no-gi training class for kids who have done Kid-Jitsu® for at least one year and have earned their yellow belt.

So just like I did with the Kid-Jitsu  Program, I’m using the same principles, and simply taking the Gi top off with the kids, and doing the techniques from the Self Defense of Jiu-Jitsu. We go from Take Downs to Positional Control to finishes. We do not teach punches and kicks in the KJU-MMA, we teach the kids how to ‘keep their Jiu-Jitsu honest’. By that I mean, we teach them how to block or avoid punches in the various positions. They do not take shots to the head or body as no punches are actually being thrown, we just teach avoidance by their positions in controlling their training partners arms.

We teach take downs, and we teach their defenses.
We teach avoiding sucker punches, and someone storming you throwing punches.
We teach the clinch
We also teach takedowns from the clinch
We teach the Vale Tudo guard (teaching to know how to not take damage from punches in the guard)
We teach getting positive positions, and not taking damage from bad positions….and many many more!

In essence, we are teaching the kids how to ‘defend’ themselves in actual situations, which they may very well run it to on the street. We teach our kids to avoid fights at all costs…..but with a bully, sometimes the fight comes to the child and they must be prepared.

Why do I call this self-defense aspect of our kids program MMA? I named it this  mainly because I didn’t want to call it ‘street fighting’, or anything with the word bully in it, because I’m sick of hearing about the bully. I’d rather get kids trained up to deal with these guys. And most people wouldn’t know what Vale Tudo means. (no holds barred)…. Plus MMA is the buzz word with the kids and adults alike…..and they LOVE IT!

The kids love the techniques, they love to take the Gi tops off and learn the various grip changes, different sweeps not using the gi, different take downs. They also embrace the faster version that the Jiu-Jitsu takes when there are not so many handles to hold on to like we have with the Gi.

Also, the children LOVE to standing techniques from the various grab escapes or defenses, to the defenses from the standing chokes like the Lion Killer and the Guillotine. I believe that kids need to KNOW THESE DEFENSES, because most kids have access to the UFC and Bellator Fights and one knucklehead using these chokes on a child can be disastrous, so I want them to know how to escape problematic issues that may confront them in a crisis situation.


Anything to do with submissions we handle with GREAT CARE, and GREAT SAFETY PRECAUTIONS. In all of our training with the kids, when we teach other instructors, and when we teach our adult students…..We ALWAYS put safety first in Kid-Jitsu®.

In my way of thinking Gracie Jiu-Jitsu brought MMA (Vale Tudo) to the states. Everything that Royce Gracie used in his UFC fights, was Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Only a sliver of what they know and teach is used in the MMA fights.

The beauty of Jiu-Jitsu is that what we as average people….men, women and children can learn to defend ourselves, is essentially the same as used in the Octagon, and it’s effective in the ring, cage,  and with the bully.

That is why I teach the BJJ Self-Defense System in my school and in my Kid-Jitsu® BJJ for kids..

Partnering up with Rise MMA allows the kids the get the best of all MMA disciplines.

Good Training!

Professor Larry Shealy, BS, MBA
Rigan Machado Black Belt Instructor
Founder, Kid-Jitsu® 

About the Author

Training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu since 1994. 4th-Degree Rigan Machado Black Belt Instructor. Christian, Husband, Father, Grateful Small Business Owner.

Larry Shealy