Kabir Bath On Jiu-Jitsu Games For Teaching Kids & Adults

I talk to Kabir Bath, A Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Rafael Lovato Jnr, who runs Kaboom Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He runs an excellent kid’s program using only constraints-based learning games where he exclusively uses jiu-jitsu games for teaching kids & adults. We discuss how he structures his class and programs for kids, how he does the same for his adult’s jiu-jitsu classes, and how it benefits their information retention and learning process.

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Using Games to Teach Jiu-Jitsu Concepts

Games provide a framework to repeatedly work on the core concepts and outcomes of jiu-jitsu in a fun way. For example, a game could be chest-to-chest with a partner, and the first person to achieve back control wins the round. This simple game forces kids to grapple from a specific starting point and achieve a clear objective. The game can be repeated over and over, allowing the kids to accumulate quality mat time rapidly focusing on that one scenario.

Over time the starting positions and objectives can be varied to work on different skills. The key is isolating a specific concept like passing guard or achieving a dominant position. Games strip away unnecessary techniques and let kids concentrate on the core idea of creating a particular effect on their partner. Multiple games in a class cover different areas like guard play, pins, takedowns, and submissions.

Emphasizing the Most Important Skills

Well-designed games emphasize the most important core skills that all jiu-jitsu players need regardless of belt level. For example, concepts like establishing dominant grips, breaking posture, and achieving dominant positions. Games also teach kids to read situations and adjust based on their partner’s reactions. This develops their jiu jitsu IQ and ability to problem solve.

By repeatedly playing games isolating key concepts, kids gain an ingrained understanding beyond memorizing techniques. The games provide quality reps against fully resisting partners in live scenarios. This engages kids and accelerates their skills compared to traditional drilling.

Creating a Fun Environment

Approaching jiu-jitsu through games creates an inherently fun and active environment for kids classes. There’s no downtime or boredom between techniques or while waiting to drill. Kids are constantly engaged in playing “jiu-jitsu tag” or achieving specific goals against a peer. This results in greater enthusiasm about training compared to a rigid and repetitive normal class structure.

The games approach also suits different learning styles. Some kids excel at visualization and drills, while others need to apply concepts in live training. Games allow both types of kids to be challenged and have success through active participation. This increases long-term retention and enjoyment.

Maximizing Repetitions

The main benefit of isolated situational drilling is maximizing repetitions. Rather than constantly resetting and switching techniques every few reps, kids can get 20, 30 or more repetitions from the same position against the same partner. This depth of training ingrains the proper reactions and skills needed to succeed in that specific scenario.

Adding progressive resistance is key to getting the most out of situational drilling. This means allowing increasing levels of intensity and aliveness from the training partner over multiple rounds. Progressive resistance prevents the drills from becoming robotic by providing realistic challenges to work against.

Focusing on Shapes

When teaching submissions, the focus is first on achieving proper body positioning and grips. For example, for an armbar, ensure the legs are locked around the arm and the hips are twisted. Without the finishing mechanics, kids can safely work on establishing proper arm bar grips and body alignment.

Once the submission shape is drilled, the next stage is maintaining control. Kids work on keeping the submission locked in place for a specific time period like 10 seconds against resistance. This teaches them to stabilize and nullify escape attempts. Only after these phases are learned are submissions actually finished with control and safety.

Kabir Bath Resources


Because if you get hyper fixated on their ability to do this technique right away in the exact way that you want, which we sort of know there’s no real one exact way. Otherwise why does BJJ fanatics get to sell 300 instructionals on half guard passing?

– Kabir Bath