My son (9 years old) and I do Japanese jujitsu, we have a great time, though our class does split into juniors and seniors.

For the last few weeks I have not been in class, but watched my son, and his moves are fine, but there is no real intent in them, he will gently do all the moves, when I asked him about this he says it was so he didn’t hurt his Uke, which is fair enough, but he needs to learn how much force to use. And if he is in a real fight/getting bullied I don't think he would use jujitsu effectively.

  • In our school, we will try to mix in exercises (grappling dummy, instructors holding thick pads, heavy-duty striking equipment) where the kids can unleash, full force, without fear of hurting anyone. Of course, that opens the can of worms that kids sometimes are unaware that they can be hurt, so there's still a balancing act. Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 18:33
  • @AndrewMattson: Do not answer in comments. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 14:18
  • @Sardathrion - My comment didn't seem complete enough, to me, to be an answer. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 14:25

4 Answers 4


There is nothing wrong with what your son is doing!

He is doing all the right things at the right time: he is gentle so his uke will train with him again. Gentleness might be because your son does not want to feel like he is acting like a bully.

His moves are fine so that he is learning to do them reflexively. Remember repetition makes permanence. This means he is learning correct forms. Speed and power can come later when he grows up a little.

Now, as the next stage of learning, he needs to do the techniques faster and with more power. Those thing will happen naturally as he trains more and more. As his uke (and himself) becomes more skilled in ukemi, he should see that doing a technique powerfully and fast does not mean harming his uke. Neither will tori harm him when the roles are reversed. My guess is this last paragraph is what you were looking for.

You have a caring son with empathy for his fellow human beings. This is a good thing™ and you should be proud of it.

Effective use…

Do you live in a war zone where you expect your kid to fight? Are there no figure of authority around that can deal with bulling in a civilised way? Or do you want your son to use violence to solve his problems? … Of course you do not. I was exaggerating on purpose.

If you are concerned about self defence, then you should look into kid self defence, as martial arts are just but a tiny part of it.


I'm with Sardathrion that martial arts are a small part of self defense, and one that we seldom actually use these days, so your child is not necessarily missing out on anything by practicing the movements as more of an intellectual exercise. That said, you might consider appealing to him about ensuring that his uke is getting a good experience.

Learning how to fall is an aspect of martial arts that is, in my opinion, much more relevant than learning combat. Tripping hazards are everywhere and a surprising number of people get injured, or even killed, tripping over small distances. Knowing how to recognize that you're unbalanced, and reacting appropriately to it, is a major survival skill. The problem with a gentle seme is that you're not learning to react to the forces involved, but rather self-initiating your falls. Knowing that, your son may be more inclined to ramp up the force he's using so as to give his classmate the valuable experience that he needs. He's helping, not hurting, but putting as much force into the technique as he can safely perform, and that his partner can handle.

  • That is a very good addition! I should have thought of it! ^_~ Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 12:36
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    I believe that breakfalls should be taught throughout any mandated physical education curriculum. They are without a doubt the most broadly useful skill I've learned in my years of martial arts. Everyone should know how to fall in a manner so as to minimize injury.
    – Zen_Hydra
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 14:36

This may require a discussion between the instructor and your son, but try gently incorporating live resistance. A compliant partner just going through the motions of a choreographed sequence will fall at the wave of a hand. But overcoming resistance requires the application of power and technique.


I agree that at 9 yrs old, just practicing is enough. But I think intention is an important part of martial arts - not necessarily for scoring hits to the body, but in building yourself into a complete martial artist. In the course of a lifetime you will do millions of movements as a martial artist. If you train with intent - that is, engaging your mind as much as you can when executing the simplest moves, then you will always have that extra component. I trained in a zen martial art so right or wrong, I learned that - to be deliberate with each move. I've come to appreciate it - really, to 'tell your body what to do' and have it react - it's a miracle. I try never to let my mind get too far away from what my hands and feet are doing - to do every movement with intent and I think practicing this way trains you to stay engaged in what you're doing.

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