Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that focuses on ground movements and grappling to train people. It is a highly physical and contact-based sport, but the practice is generally safe and it is an excellent form of exercise. Those interested in enrolling younger people into classes may be concerned about growth stunting and general safety.
There is no evidence that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or any other physical activity stunts growth. It is a great option for training children in self-defense, discipline, and exercise who are interested. Despite being a contact sport, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be and is often practiced safely.
Stunting growth or causing other physical issues is a common concern for parents looking to enroll children in physical activities, but there is no evidence of this being the case. For additional details on how and what negatives training may actually present, continue reading below.
Will Martial Arts Or Other Exercise Stunt Growth?
Despite the popularity of rumors, there is no evidence at all that physical exercise or martial arts stunt growth. In fact, even weightlifting has not been proven to have any adverse effects on growth.
According to many studies, there is no correlation between physical activity and stunted growth. Even high-impact activities such as gymnastics, as explored in this study, have not been shown to impact growth at all.
Given the extensive research into this among other sports and physical activities, there is no reason to believe that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will negatively affect growth.
What Can Cause Stunted Growth?
While the physical activity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will not cause growth to stunt or be affected, there are a small number of factors that do affect the body’s ability to grow. Among these are:
- Growth Plate Damage
The single most significant factor in growth in children is their genes. Every other factor is significant only if a child is suspected to be growing slower than their peers or other health issues are found.
Still, optimizing and learning about other ways that growth can be stunted is worthwhile if you are worried about stunting a child’s growth.
Poor nutrition caused by several factors can cause stunting to occur and ultimately damage a child. Generally, poor nutrition is due to a lack of vitamins, minerals, protein, or general calories. Feeding children, a balanced diet featuring a variety of food types is vital to their continued growth and help. The effects of specific nutrition are explored here.
Also, damage to a bone’s growth plate is a concern for affecting a child’s growth. At the end of each long bone is a thin layer of cartilage called a growth plate. As we grow, this growth plate slowly cauterizes into bone and creates more, growing our bodies. Eventually, as growth stops, the full plate hardens.
If a bone is severely broken, the growth plate can be affected and heal abnormally. This is rare across the board, but high-contact sports such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may raise the chances of this occurring.
Even if a growth plate is damaged, it is likely to heal without any lasting effects after proper medical care. Many children get broken bones and continue to grow normally; it is generally not a concern.
Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Dangerous?
While Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will not cause stunted growth in a child, there are some dangers and concerns which should be known before enrolling in classes.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a high-contact combat sport that involves rolling, grappling, and self-defense techniques. Serious practice of its arts requires contact to be made, which can occasionally result in injury.
Classes should have strict safety protocols and mat rules to ensure that the risk of injury is minimized. Generally, most classes will take this extremely seriously while training children and beginners.
Trainers and gyms should be more than happy to review safety standards and how they protect children before enrollment begins. For example, the Crosley Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy has an FAQ page specifically for parents looking to enroll their children in classes.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Can Be Practiced Safely
Although there is an inherent danger in practicing any martial art that involves contact, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be practiced safely, even for children. Different schools and gyms will have varying rules and regulations about practice for kids and teenagers, so it is vital to research specific options.
Many gyms treat Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a form of play. This is essential for young children who are just learning about the techniques and forms of the martial art. Thanks to the grounded and rolling nature of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, children also take to it quickly. This loose form of play helps maintain safety.
Consider how young children usually play: while they are learning to run and gaining control of their bodies, they often fall, roll, and crawl around on the ground and have fun doing it. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offers many of the same basic movements in a safer, softer environment.
Most gyms are small and focused, allowing instructors to maintain watchful eyes on every group of children. This is great for allowing them to explore with some supervision to ensure that no injury is occurring. Additionally, in the unfortunate event that injury does occur, someone is immediately available to help.
The risk of head injury in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may also be lower than in other traditional children’s sports. Soccer, football, and striking martial arts all maintain a higher average risk of head injury than Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As some of the most dangerous injuries, a child can endure, this lowered risk is a great reason to choose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu over other options.
Source: Jiu-Jitsu Legacy
The Benefits of Practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will not harm a child’s growth and has a surprisingly low risk of injury, especially when compared to other sports. While there are a few negative effects, the benefits of practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in young people are also important to consider.
Practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can help children develop both physically and mentally. Martial arts can teach:
- Mental strength
Children are offered a direct sense of progression through the belt system employed by most martial arts and gain a support system larger than their family on the way.
These mental boosts can be hugely beneficial in the development and growth of a child and inspire them to continue training.
Physically, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be an excellent outlet for energy while also exercising the body and teaching kids and teenagers to maintain flexibility and body control. It also builds strength and dexterity, granting them another avenue to confidence.
Finally, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can also help growing young people in the field of self-defense. Training in how to defend their bodies, get out of situations, and protect themselves can be hugely beneficial for anyone, especially children. While martial arts do not focus on violence as a way to defend yourself, it is a part of the package.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will not stunt growth, nor will any other physical activity. The myth of stunted growth due to various forms of exercise does not have any scientific proof, even after multiple studies have been conducted on the topic.
The main factors that affect a person’s growth are genes, nutrition, and occasionally damage to growth plates. Damage to growth plates can result from physical activity such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but is extremely rare.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be dangerous to practice because it is a combat sport, affecting the body in other ways. However, it is almost always practiced safely and offers an incredible number of benefits for children and adults looking to learn.