We started Jiu-Jitsu with our first child when she was only six months-old. Over the next three-and-half years, she spent countless hours watching, listening, and trying to join class from the sidelines. When Ashley finally turned four, we officially signed her up. We talked about how well she would do having watched for so long. As soon as we walked up to the door of her first class, she bursted into inconsolable tears. We ended up just observing class. This went on for six months with varying degrees of short spurts of interaction in class.
We started to feel that maybe Jiu-Jitsu wasn’t right for her. While her older sister had no fear and needed Jiu-Jitsu for focus and discipline, Ashley’s anxiety skyrocketed at the thought of talking to new people, but especially at wrestling them. We kept trying for two reasons. First, we believe self-defense is extremely important. The second reason was the coaches. They took time each class to really connect with Ashley. They made her feel loved and supported no matter how class went. She was never shamed or embarrassed by the coaches, and they made a real connection with her.
The turning point came one day while rolling in class. Ashley was taken down – hard! I waited for the meltdown; her looking for me, the tears, and eventual running out of class. But, she didn’t. She didn’t even glance in my direction. She looked to her coach with tears about to break. Coach (now Professor) Nick’s face didn’t show the concern or worry mine did. He confidently reassured her, “You got this.” She put on her serious face and went back to rolling. I had never seen her react this way, but it was amazing to see her face her fear. I was cheering internally. It didn’t change overnight, in fact for awhile that confidence only came out in front of Professor Nick. But slowly, she came into her own.
It’s been four years since then. Ashley thrives in and out of class. You would never mistake her for a shy kid. She introduces herself to every new student and makes a point to help them feel comfortable. I’ve even caught her talking to the new students’ parents after class, just letting them know how she thought class went. Easton took a child that was basically glued to my hip or hiding behind me and helped her discover herself. The fear lost its control. In Easton she felt safe, safe enough to explore her world, make mistakes, and grow from them. She learned how to handle difficult situations and trust herself. It is truly amazing to watch this little eight year-old be so sure of herself, and we are forever grateful to Easton Training Center for it.
Are you ready to introduce your kids to Jiu-Jitsu?