The sad reality that we are facing is that human trafficking is becoming more and more common. It is a sickening realization that I wish would just disappear but it just growing by the day! The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office recently released an annual report on the state’s efforts to combat the issue and shared a scary statistic. In ONE YEAR in the state of South Carolina alone, there was a 360% increase in human trafficking victim here. This number has tripled in my state alone in the last year.
Knowing this and being in a few situations where I was followed with my children, I want to do the best that I can to protect them. This includes being more aware of my surroundings when we go in public, putting my phone away so they have my entire attention, parking closer to the front of the building and putting them all in the car first before anything else are some of the things I have done to help protect us when out in public. I know that this issue isn’t something that just ends because I do this with them, so I’ve also taken steps to talk with them about human trafficking (without being super graphic) and what they can do to protect themselves.
Most people think that human trafficking occurs from people that do not know you but it could also very well be people that you have relationships with. People are actually taking the time to build relationships with their victims first and unfortunately this results in more abductions occurring. My husband and I do not allow the kids to play or watch certain apps on their tablets, they do not spend the night off unless it’s with one or two of the people we trust, they have code words for being able to leave a place with someone other than myself or my husband AND they have started going to a local jiu jitsu academy called Ozone Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
I am someone that is aware of the dangers of human trafficking and have been for quite sometime and wanted to put pen to paper with this issue. My children started taking Brazilian jiu jitsu right after Christmas and I’ve seen so many positives occurring just in these past few months. Brazilian jiu jitsu is a self-defense system, martial art, and combat sport system that focuses on grappling with particular emphasis on ground fighting.
There Are Many Reasons Kids Should Train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Here are the Top 7:
- #1 Coordination and Body Awareness
- #2 Discipline and Focus
- #3 Confidence
- #4 Socialization
- #5 Fitness
- #6 Goal Setting and Completion
- #7 Self-Defense
Nolan and Harper are loving the nights that they get to go to jiu jitsu. Harper is VERY shy and I’ve seen a huge improvement in her confidence throughout their practice thus far. Nolan really needs help with discipline and focus and his jiu jitsu practice has already made an impact on both. I can only imagine what continues to come out of their trainings as time goes on. Cliff and Paige White (the owners of Ozone) have been SUPER helpful with all of my questions, fears and wants for the kids. Their academy is so welcoming and the instructors know how to work with kids on their level to get them in line and focused. Since sharing about the kids journey with jiu jitsu, I’ve gotten a few questions that I would love to address. If you have more, please feel free to reach out to me or Cliff and Paige with Ozone.
I asked Cliff and Paige a few questions about jiu jitsu and here are their answers:
Q: What is a good age for kids to start Jiu Jitsu?
A: 3 years old. They’re interacting with other kids. They’re developing their mobile skills. They’re learning to work together with others, as a team. And most importantly, they’re having fun with it at that age. They like to be referred to as a ninja lol
Q: Will Jiu Jitsu keep my child from being bullied?
A: Jiu Jitsu May not keep your child from being bullied initially, but it will teach your child how to defend themselves if they are ever faced with a situation where they are being bullied. Because they have gained confidence through Jiu Jitsu, it changes their reaction to things. They are no longer portrayed as “weak” anymore. They can feel confident in their ability to deal with struggles that many kids face. Unfortunately, bullying will never dissolve, and often times bullies target those that lack confidence or show any kind of weakness. Jiu Jitsu gives children the tools to deal with situations such as these.
Jiu Jitsu goes far beyond bullying, but for kids it starts there. Now we are being faced with human trafficking, kidnapping of kids from their front yards, and the list goes on. It is imperative that kids (as well as adults) know some form of self defense, and as for me and my family, it has always been Jiu Jitsu.
Q: Should my child compete in Jiu Jitsu?
A: YES! YES! YES! If that is what they want to do. In no way are they expected to do so, nor forced to do so. That is certainly a personal choice, as many of our students do compete, but we have just as many students, adults and kids, that choose not to compete.
Competing is a positive thing, if that’s what you choose to do. It is a true test to see how much you have learned, and it exposes your strengths and weakness. The more you compete, it teaches you to deal with the anxiety that comes before every match. Which in general, it helps you deal with anxiety… period. It also gives you an opportunity to meet many different kids from around the world, and create bonds with them over a common interest…. Jiu Jitsu. You meet kids from many different walks of life. Competing also teaches you to deal with the many different emotions that you will experience. It teaches you to win (humbly) and lose (humbly). You will experience a million different emotions during a 4 minute match, but when the match is over you feel a huge sense of accomplishment.
Unlike team sports, in Jiu Jitsu You May train as a team, and learn as a team, but you compete as an individual. So, the respect after competition is directed solely at the individual for their courage, effort, and ability to overcome their fears.
Q: How long does it take for my child to earn their black belt?
A: YEARS. Kids belt promotions are different than adult promotions. There are 13 belt colors that kids will earn. After those 13 belt promotions (with 4 degrees on each belt) they will then begin earning their adult level belts. Their are 7 adult belt levels, but 5 are realistically obtainable. Kids are normally promoted a lot faster than adults for many reasons. They are promoted for hard work, paying attention, being respectful and following all rules, how well they work with others, and their attitude in and outside of the academy.
Jiu Jitsu can be short term or long term, depending on your personal goals for training. It becomes a positive lifestyle and part of your culture, if you allow it. As for myself, I started training at the age of 26 and have been training for 14 years. I earned my black belt at the age of 36, and received my first degree on my black belt last year. My 2 daughters began training and competing at the age of 5.
I am encouraging you to not only make yourself more aware of human trafficking for your own protection but to offer support for others. Take a self defense class or enroll yourself and your children in jiu jitsu. I would love to help you get connected with Cliff and Paige since they have been so helpful thus far in our family wanting to start jiu jitsu you can find out all of their information and class schedules by clicking here. If you see something occurring in public, report the situation as victims are less likely to report themselves or have the ability to do so. This is also a national hotline for victims of human trafficking, their number is 1-888-373-7888 if you are yourself a victim.