If you caught Submission Hunter Pro 65 this past Sunday, you know that kids and teens are absolutely no freaking joke. As much as we like to think getting on stage is playtime for them, they quickly show that they mean serious business.
Watching kids and teens compete and even train, you notice a couple of things. Number one, the submission rate goes up, way higher than adult submission rates. Number two, every single second of their matches is filled of high intensity, fast paced transitions. And Number three, they have absolutely no hesitation to go for the kill. Everything that seems to make adults stop and overthink situations, is nonexistent in the juvenile years.
There is a reason baby phenoms are always the talk of the town. Names like Mona Bailey, Emily Fernandez, Cole Abate, William and Andrew Tackett are definitely not unknown by all in the jiu-jitsu community. But what exactly is it about this new generation in the sport that makes it seem like they were endowed with jiu-jitsu superpowers? Did jiu-jitsu just happen to come into their lives at the perfect moment for full mental absorption?
The answer is, yes.
Like adults always say, kids are sponges. They absorb anything and everything they see and hear. From birth to approximately age six, children’s brains work in a very different way than an adult’s does. At this age, their minds soak up huge amounts of information from their environment in a very effortless and continuous manner. And for children who grow up in jiu-jitsu and continue into their teen and adult lives, years of technical abilities are already engraved in their heads. Not to mention that their lack of experience in continuous failure, makes them bulletproof. At least in their mind. Meaning they have absolutely no thoughts clouding their mind which results in no hesitation to try something full speed.
Compare this to starting jiu-jitsu as a full-grown adult. Adults are socially and environmentally designed and trained to overthink everything. By the time you reach your adult years, hundreds of experiences of trial and error have flooded your subconscious mind, and now all you can think about before applying a technique, is all the ways it can go horribly wrong.
As we see these child stars grow and begin their run in the adult’s divisions, it is no surprise that they are not there to take part, but they are there to take over. Does this mean that starting jiu-jitsu as an adult completely diminishes your chances at high level jiu-jitsu? Absolutely not. Just ask multiple-time World champion Claudia Doval, who started jiu-jitsu at age 21. This just means you’ll probably have to find supplemental ways to quiet your busy mind and put in a tad bit more time to develop that muscle memory. The new generation might be rapidly seizing the competition scene, but always remember that in this particular case, you most certainly CAN teach an old dog new tricks.