Kids grappling is an exciting and dynamic sport that benefits young practitioners. From building physical strength and coordination to fostering mental discipline and confidence, grappling helps children grow in numerous ways. However, with so many different styles, it can be challenging for parents and kids to determine which is the best fit. This blog will explore the various styles of kids grappling, helping you understand their unique features and benefits.

What is Kids Grappling?

Kids grappling is a form of martial arts where children use techniques that involve controlling and submitting their opponents without striking. This sport focuses on leverage, balance, and technique rather than brute strength, making it suitable for young athletes. Grappling encompasses various disciplines such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Judo, Wrestling, and Sambo, each with unique methods and rules.

Basic grappling concepts include takedowns, joint locks, pins, and chokeholds. These techniques teach children how to effectively manage their body weight and movements to gain dominance over opponents. Kids’ grappling emphasizes safety, sportsmanship, and respect, providing a structured and positive environment for children to learn and grow physically and mentally.

Benefits of Kids Grappling

Kids grappling offers numerous advantages that extend beyond physical fitness. Here’s a look at the holistic benefits that grappling provides to young practitioners:

Physical Benefits

Grappling is an excellent way for children to develop their physical abilities.

  • Strength: Grappling exercises and drills, including holds, lifts, and throws, help build core and body strength, enhance muscle tone, and enhance power in kids.
  • Flexibility: Grappling involves dynamic movements, such as stretching and maneuvering, which enhance flexibility, prevent injuries, and improve performance.
  • Coordination: Grappling techniques require precise movements, enhancing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills that can be transferred to various sports and daily activities.
  • Endurance: Regular grappling practice enhances cardiovascular health and stamina, increases heart rate and lung capacity, and promotes overall fitness and endurance.

Mental Benefits

The mental challenges in grappling help children develop critical cognitive skills.

  • Discipline: Grappling instills discipline and self-control in children through adherence to rules and techniques, which is beneficial in other aspects of their lives, including academics.
  • Focus: Children’s practice and competitions require them to focus on their movements, opponents, and strategies, enhancing their attention to detail and task concentration.
  • Confidence: Mastering new skills and overcoming challenges in grappling builds self-esteem, as children gain confidence in their abilities and positively impact their overall self-image.

Social Benefits

Grappling also fosters essential social skills and values.

  • Teamwork: Grappling training, a group sport, teaches children the value of teamwork, support, and knowledge sharing, fostering community and cooperation.
  • Respect: Grappling fosters respect for coaches, opponents, and sports, teaching children to appreciate their instructors’ expertise and their peers’ skills and to conduct themselves with integrity and sportsmanship.
  • Communication: Engaging in peer and instructor interactions enhances children’s communication skills, enabling them to express themselves, listen, and interpret body language, thus improving their overall interpersonal abilities.

Popular Styles of Grappling for Kids

Various grappling styles cater to different preferences and strengths. Each style has unique techniques and principles, emphasizing different aspects such as throws, ground control, or submissions. Understanding these differences helps parents and children choose the most suitable style based on their interests and physical attributes. Below are the different styles of kids grappling that will be discussed in detail.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) originated in the early 20th century when Japanese Jiu-Jitsu master Mitsuyo Maeda taught the art to the Gracie family in Brazil. The Gracies adapted and evolved the techniques, focusing on ground fighting and submissions. Over time, BJJ gained popularity worldwide, becoming a staple in mixed martial arts and self-defense training. Here are the essential techniques and principles: 

  • Guard: Controlling an opponent from your back, using legs and hips to manage distance and execute attacks.
  • Mount: A dominant position on top of the opponent, allowing for various submission attempts.
  • Sweeps: Techniques to reverse positions from the bottom to the top, gaining an advantage.
  • Submissions: Chokeholds and joint locks designed to force an opponent to submit or tap out.
  • Positional Control: Emphasizing the importance of controlling and maintaining superior positions to dominate the opponent.


Judo was developed in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano, who combined elements of traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu with his philosophies to create a martial art focused on throws and grappling. Kano aimed to develop a sport that emphasized mutual respect and physical education. Over time, Judo became an Olympic sport and gained worldwide recognition for its effectiveness and discipline. The fundamental techniques and principles of Judo are:

  • Throws (Nage-waza): Techniques used to unbalance and throw an opponent to the ground.
  • Groundwork (Ne-waza): Techniques for controlling an opponent on the ground, including pins, joint locks, and chokeholds.
  • Kuzushi: The principle of breaking an opponent’s balance to execute throws effectively.
  • Grip Fighting: Strategies for obtaining and maintaining a solid grip on an opponent’s uniform (gi) to control their movements.
  • Ukemi: Techniques for safely falling and rolling to prevent injuries during practice and competition.


Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in human history, with roots tracing back to ancient civilizations such as Greece, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. It was a prominent event in the ancient Olympic Games and has evolved into various forms, including Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, which are practiced worldwide today. Wrestling’s rich history and universal appeal have made it a fundamental sport in many cultures. Here are some techniques:

  • Takedowns: Techniques to bring an opponent to the ground from a standing position.
  • Pins: Holding an opponent’s shoulders on the mat to secure a victory.
  • Escapes: Techniques to break free from an opponent’s control and return to a neutral or advantageous position.
  • Reversals: Methods to switch from a defensive position to an offensive one.
  • Control: Emphasis on maintaining control over an opponent through leverage, strength, and strategic positioning.


Sambo, short for “SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya” (self-defense without weapons), originated in the Soviet Union in the early 1920s. It was developed by combining traditional Russian wrestling styles with techniques from Judo and other martial arts to create an effective system for military and police training. Over time, Sambo evolved into a competitive sport with distinct rules and techniques. Some techniques and principles:

  • Throws: Techniques to unbalance and throw an opponent to the ground, similar to Judo.
  • Groundwork: Focus on controlling and submitting an opponent on the ground with joint locks and pins.
  • Leg Locks: Specialized techniques targeting the legs, a unique aspect of Sambo.
  • Sweeps: Methods to disrupt an opponent’s balance and bring them to the ground.
  • Grip Fighting: Strategies to secure and maintain advantageous grips on an opponent’s clothing or body.

Choosing the Right Style for Your Child

Choosing the right grappling style for your child can be rewarding yet challenging. Here are some key factors to consider to ensure your child finds the best fit:

  • Age and Physical Development: Choose a martial art style based on your child’s age and physical development. Judo and wrestling are suitable for younger children, and BJJ is for older kids.
  • Personal Interests: Determine your child’s interests and enthusiasm by considering their preferred martial arts. Judo or wrestling may be suitable for those interested in throws and takedowns.
  • Physical Attributes: Assess your child’s physical attributes, such as their strengths in wrestling or flexibility and endurance, to determine the best fit for their interests.
  • Learning Style: Understand your child’s learning style. Some thrive in structured environments, while others enjoy flexibility and creativity in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
  • School and Coach Quality: Research local schools and coaches for quality instruction and coach connection. Visit schools, observe classes, and speak with instructors to find the best environment for your child.
  • Safety and Environment: The grappling school should prioritize safety and provide a supportive environment, ensuring proper safety measures like well-padded mats and adherence to protocols during practice.

Transitioning Between Styles

Versatility in grappling is crucial as it broadens a child’s skill set, making them more adaptable and well-rounded athletes. Being proficient in multiple styles allows them to handle opponents and situations more effectively. This versatility also enhances their understanding of grappling techniques and strategies, leading to better performance in competitions and self-defense scenarios.

To help your child transition between grappling styles:

  • Start by fostering a positive attitude towards learning and change.
  • Please encourage them to attend introductory classes in the new style and gradually integrate techniques from both disciplines.
  • Ensure they practice regularly and receive support from experienced coaches who understand the nuances of each style.

Patience and consistent practice are critical to a smooth transition.

Preparing for Competitions

Preparing for grappling competitions requires physical training, mental preparation, and strategic planning. Here are essential steps to help your child perform their best:

  • Physical Conditioning: Regular training sessions should be focused on developing endurance, strength, and agility, with a focus on technique refinement and stamina development.
  • Technical Training: Develop skills in competition-specific techniques and drills, such as takedowns, submissions, and escapes, focusing on timing, precision, and adapting to different opponents.
  • Mental Preparation: Teach your child strategies for managing competition stress and maintaining focus during matches—Foster confidence by visualizing success and setting realistic goals.
  • Mock Competitions: Organize mock competitions or sparring sessions with teammates or training partners to simulate tournament conditions, helping your child become familiar with the competitive environment and boost their confidence.
  • Nutrition and Hydration: To support energy levels and performance, maintain a balanced diet and ensure your child stays hydrated before competition.
  • Review Rules and Strategies: Understand competition rules, strategies, scoring systems, time limits, and penalty regulations for effective grappling during matches with your child.

Understanding the different styles of kids’ grappling opens up a world of opportunities for young athletes to develop physically and mentally. Whether they choose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Wrestling, Sambo, or another style, each offers unique benefits that cater to various interests and abilities. At District Martial Arts in Arlington, VA, we’re dedicated to helping children explore and excel in grappling in a supportive and enriching environment. 

For more information on how grappling can benefit your child or to schedule a visit, contact us at (703) 988-3474 or email Start their journey to martial arts excellence today!