In hearing an interview with former UFC champion Jon Jones, I was motivated to write a post on the importance of wrestling and martial arts for the youth.
Aikido helped me as a 10 year old child enraged with everything the world threw at me. Running laps in the dojo and building my character through kata and sparring showed me things I'd never discover in any other sport.
Jon described being a wrestler when his brothers went the more standard route of football and basketball. 'Bones' had all the assets his brothers had in terms of stature and strength, but he knew from the start that the discipline wrestling provides would set him up for life more than any other athletic program.
Being the only black child in a wrestling program of the early 90s couldn't have been easy; in fact former UFC delinquent Matt Riddle had beaten Jon Jones in a wrestling tournament.. but oh how both men's legacies have changed entirely.
[Yes that is Jon in third place...]
Did you know that children enrolled in a wrestling program receive a free singlet and free wrestling shoes? Kids can travel to tournaments sponsored by their school, and with wrestling children don't need a court or a park nearby. Sprawling and shadow wrestling can be done in one's room, and it's really the mindset that's more important than physical assets.
Jon Jones may have had his troubles... but I look up to him for his skillset and sophistication in the cage that no one else has ever shown. He is elite at what he does, and Jon Jones is bar none the most dangerous man on the planet.. he has been for the past decade. You never know when one kid who picks up a sport just may become the best at it...
Wrestling teaches you to be great, and some kids just need to know they can be.