Healthy Beginnings

Is Brazilian jiu-jitsu good for kids? ‘Oss’ it is

  • July 30, 2018
  • |
  • By Robert Floyd, MD | Gerber Medical Clinic
  • |
  • Categories: Fitness, Healthy Body

Staff Sgt. Aaron Drapeylo practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Senior Airman Edward Leeper at Balad Air Base, Iraq, in December 2017. Photo: Staff Sgt. Joshua Garcia / U.S. Air Force

In this day and age of sitting around staring at screens, one thing has been proven: inactivity is harmful to your health.

According to papers published in The U.S. National Library of Medicine, a sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity, depression, low self-esteem, hormone imbalances, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and even cancer. Historically, this used to be more of a problem with working adults logging long hours sitting behind a desk, but sadly it has become more common in today’s children.

With the loss of PE in public schools and the massive increase of screen time in today’s tech-savvy society, children are at an increased risk of a more sedentary lifestyle, and this can be harmful to their health. CDC statistics show the average 8- to 10-year-old child spends 6 hours a day in front of a screen using entertainment media, and 4 hours of that is watching television.

A sedentary lifestyle can dull a child’s mind and round out his or her figure. Luckily, there are many options for children to become more active here in Northern Nevada, and one of those options happens to be the fastest growing sport in the world: Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ).

Rickson Gracie, arguably one of the world’s best mixed martial arts fighters and direct descendant of the founding father of BJJ, Helio Gracie, says, “In the old times a student goes to a jiu-jitsu school wanting to learn how to protect themselves and learn to fight because Brazil was a tough place to be. Jiu-Jitsu was for self-defense. After the lessons, kids became more confident and were able to defend themselves in a real-world situation.”

Alexander Garcia, the owner of Gracie Humaita BJJ located in Reno, is from Brazil. He is the only Brazilian black belt teaching in Reno, and he prides himself on his Brazilian roots.

When asked if anyone can learn BJJ, his response is an affirming “Oss,” a term heard in just about every BJJ studio in the world, signifying confirmation with respect.

Alex is a humble man with a great sense of humor who loves teaching BJJ in Reno. When asked what he likes about teaching, he replies, “I like seeing the students’ improvements in discipline, ability, and self-respect. Jiu-Jitsu helps build character.”

BJJ is a mental and physical chess game that requires one to work hard, dig deep and be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

As a martial art, BJJ has its roots in self-defense, and this can be important in a time where bullying seems to run rampant in schools.

“I love helping build confidence in kids. Recently I had a kid sign up because he was getting bullied in school. After just a few weeks, he told me he was not getting bullied anymore, and that made me proud,” says Ryan Jennerjohn, active BJJ world competitor, co-owner and assistant professor at Gracie Humaita BJJ.

There are many BJJ schools to choose from in Reno, Sparks, and Carson. All of them offer kids classes with multiple class times for active families. Follow the advice of the Charles Gracie BJJ Academy of Reno and enroll your child in BJJ to “Give your kid a fighting chance.”

Robert Floyd, MD, is a board-certified family physician practicing integrative and functional medicine at Gerber Medical Clinic in Reno. He is now accepting new patients. Visit or call 775-826-1900 for more information.