Of course, I don’t mean this literally, but we are in a sport where we allow a culture of excuses to flood what makes us great. In Jiu-Jitsu, the rising fad in kid sports, we see more and more children learning and loving the game of positions and submissions. We often get the not-so-good with it where we are actually stunting the growth of our children's character growth. I love many combat sports, many of which come from martial arts, and many come from many countries, including Japan, India, Thailand, China, and Brazil. We have many nations to thank for contributing to combat and combat competition. Still, the greatest thing is that we contribute in so many amazing ways when America grabs hold of something. In competition, we refuse excuses; if we are outmatched, we must fix it for the future. We don’t allow our children to punch down and take pride in it, so you take on opponents of your age, weight, and experience level. Sandbagging is worse than showing up, and in America, that’s not a thing, no matter what some caveperson coach tells you. I sit there with beginner students and try to calm their nerves to take the chance to be great. The thing I make sure that I do when coaching kids is that, above all else, I make leaders out of smart but often unconfident students. I sat in front of about 14 kids to tell them the largest truth I know in my bones. Avoiding losing will make you a LOSER. Being scared to lose is normal, but not losing because you didn’t take the chance is the worst of all. I begged them to know I didn’t care if they lost; their parents wouldn’t care, and almost nobody in the audience would know whether they were winning or losing. This would repeat again and again throughout your life. They laughed and joked with one another when I asked what they would do when they were older and had a crush, and it was time for prom. I never knew that fear of no and fearless losing would become foundational in my teaching. I thought I was teaching Jiu-Jitsu with the primary intent to teach better than anyone else, but I ended up caring more about the character I was developing. Watching kids scared to roll (think high school wrestling) and getting them to rationalize with their favorite superhero who gets knocked around but always comes back because that is why we love him, and that’s what heroes do. To go against a larger, more athletic, but less trained child and put fear on the back burner, don’t panic and fight but find calm in the chaos and don’t overthink. Just do Jiu-Jitsu. I have seen so many kids who failed so often become captains and leaders of their teams. To become confident, resilient, assertive, bold, and, most importantly, kind. As you can see, my investment in why I still teach my kids classes after 14 years is now driven by more important motives. So build your champions, but build their character. Place them in even circumstances and allow your child to fail rather than put them in a lower division where other lesser-skilled and new-to-competition children dare be great. Remember, this is a cultural thing that we do not need to adopt in our culture. Encourage your children to take these precious character-developing moments as much as possible. Make them bulletproof to failure by instilling a growth mindset. Your intelligence and talents can be developed over time versus a fixed mindset where you believe intelligence is fixed—so if you’re not good at something, you might believe you’ll never be good at it. As they take this step, I am so proud of my kids for allowing their hard work to be tested. Win or lose, they are winners in character development.



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