There is an experiment known as “The Marshmallow Test,” in which children are seated at a table with a marshmallow in front of them and are told that if they can wait ten minutes to eat it, they can have two instead. Studies have shown that those who are able to wait the allotted time are more successful later in life.
We are praised in public for what we have done for years in private.- Tony Robbins
The ability to delay gratification is the foundation all great achievers stand upon. If we are to become our highest selves, we must maintain a vision of our distant goal, turning down minor rewards today for greater rewards tomorrow.
Jiu Jitsu, better than any activity I have experienced, teaches us the value of delayed gratification. Jiu Jitsu is infinitely complex, the more one learns the more ignorance illuminates itself. The depth of this art forces the student to pursue a correlative depth of understanding.
We don’t choose to delay gratifcation in Jiu Jitsu: the nature of the sport demands it.
Jiu Jitsu is too vast to be understood quickly. Like anything of value, this study takes time, and over time, its value is revealed. The nature of skill acquisition creates a natural barter system with our young students.
They quickly recognize that Jiu Jitsu is a game, and the more tools they acquire, the more enjoyable that game becomes. Our kids happily pay attention because they value their compensation, skill development. Jiu Jitsu teaches them to invest in instruction, focusing attentively to seek a true understanding of the technique, and that this acquisition tangibly improves the quality of their lives.
Once they understand the feedback loop of “sustained effort and attention equals reward” they are able to apply this skill in the classroom. To eight year olds, doing well on a math test means little more than receiving their parent’s or teacher’s approval. They simply do not have enough context to understand why that test is important.
Jiu Jitsu transcends this myopic thinking by the immediacy of its results.
Little Jack sits quietly while his teacher instructs, and then uses that new technique on his friend 15 minutes later in live training, enjoying himself immensely while doing so. He has direct proof of the worthwhileness of this transaction and is now more willing to make it in the future.
This is the environment Jiu Jitsu provides, and it is the role of the instructor and the parents to help our young students understand this relationship so that they may apply it in the classroom.
With the right education, we can ensure that our children develop the patience to wait for that second marshmallow and all of the future “marshmallows” that you and I work toward daily.
In so doing, they learn to delay gratification while expediting their development!