My son Brendan is 9 years old, and in his short lifetime, I have attempted to involve him in the following sports: Kenpo karate, horseback riding, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and ice hockey. About 2 years ago, I simply gave up trying to find something he would like, and I began to seriously worry that video games and television would remain his only interests. I firmly believe that every child needs something to be passionate about in order to stay out of trouble, but no matter what we signed upfor, Brendan lacked enthusiasm. Being an intensely competitive person myself, this was totally foreign to me, but I certainly didn’t want to force him into doing something he hated.
This past January, my husband andI were looking online for a place where we might be able to train, and quite by accident stumbled onto Crazy 88 BJJ. For some reason Brandon (my husband) thought Brendan might take to grappling due to its physicality, but I was skeptical due to past experience–after all, even Kenpo hadn’t proven fast-paced enough to hold his interest AT ALL. We went to the gym to take an adult intro class and immediately were struck by the friendliness of the staff and the professional atmosphere, along with the top quality credentials of the instructors. The fact that classes were being taught by national and international gold medalists was pretty impressive! At that time we learned from Julius that they were just about to begin a Children’s program, so we decided to hold off on our own training goals and sign Brendan up. His first class was mid-February 2008.
Brendan took to BJJ like the proverbial duck to water, and has now been training for almost 6 months. We drive an hour from Westminster to make it to the gym, but he doesn’t complain about the long commute and looks forward to every practice. He is ALWAYS the smallest kid in his school class (9 years old and 45 lbs!), but he is no longer so upset when he is teased about his size– he has developed so much more confidence in himself now that he knows he has nothing to prove.
Last time the class bully tried to physically fight with him, Brendan easily extricated himself but was careful to use only enough force to restrain the other child without ever hurting him. I know that this is because of the responsible instruction he has received from his amazing coach, Danny Ives– I truly cannot say enough about him. He takes a personal, vested interest in Brendan’s development, not just as a competitor, but as a human being. Danny is careful to teach that attitude and effort mean more than anything else when it comes to being a winner. The kids at 88BJJ know that what they are taught in class involves much more than a cool combat method– they are taught how to use what they learn responsibly, for the protection of themselves and others. Brendan has learned from Danny that perfect technique IS necessary, but that it’s not enough in and of itself– the heart of a fighter is his most important asset.
Just in case anyone thinks that character development is all the kids at 88BJJ are learning, I’ll just mention one more thing. When Brendan had been training for about 6 weeks, we entered him in his very first tournament (NAGA Virginia, April ’08), and he surprised us all by bringing home two silver medals! After that first taste of competition, he was completely hooked. On the drive home from that tournament, he was already asking when he could fight again, and trying to analyze what he would do better next time in order to get a gold medal instead of silver. His chance came two days ago (US Grappling, 8/2/08). In the first division, No Gi, he got to the finals match and took a silver medal once again, just like last time. Then in the second division (Gi) he rallied back, was able to beat the child who had beaten him in the No Gi, and went on to fight in the championship match, where he was able to bring home his first GOLD!
If you are looking for that very rare place that is able to combine top-notch technical instruction with the highest ethical standards, then your search should end with Crazy 88 BJJ. After the excellent teaching and genuine love that Brendan has experienced there, we wouldn’t entrust our child to anyone else.
Brendan participates in our: