When joining the kids coaching team back in 2018, one of my significant first memories of Professor Robyn Goudy was the way he related to the Little Warriors, our youngest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) class for ages 4-6.
Candid and free-spirited, yet with a clear voice and presence that commanded authority of a big brother, my Professor acted out a scenario that involved subduing a ‘monster’, much to the delight of the little ones, who laughed gleefully. Minutes later, we proceeded with the drills. Most of the kids managed to understand what they had to do, thanks to Robyn's ability to break down a foundational BJJ movement and turn it into a storytelling game.
That, I learned later, was the secret to Robyn’s success with helping the kids learn. “I try to keep it playful,” he said, “This is the approach I take to life in general. I’m pretty young at heart!”
From ‘Monster-Killers’ to Youth of Sound Character
The tots are introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu through ‘monsters’ and games. As they reach the age of 6 or 7 and ‘graduate’ into the Medium Monstros program, this is where real Jiu-Jitsu terminology is introduced, including foundational positions like the base and guard.
As the children hit age 10 and join the Junior Champions program, this is where they get a taste of what is taught in the adults’ basic class. More senior Junior Champions, such as the grey belts and up, get to try their hand at more advanced positions, such as open guard and various submissions.
While the primary focus of each class is to train up each child in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, fitness and body awareness, as well as self-defense, Robyn desires these classes to be platforms for them to grow in character and confidence.
“I don’t build up kids to become world-class competitors - although, if this is their desire, I am more than happy to help.”
“However, I am looking at building character. Children in Singapore have the privilege to grow up in a safe and secure environment, but it is essential to build them with a toughness and confidence to walk through life knowing they do have the skills to fight and defend themselves - but don’t necessarily have to use them.”
And so it is no surprise that FaMA's Kids Martial Arts classes emphasise on virtues such as respect, teamwork, confidence, and much more. Beyond just martial arts, there is a platform to learn how to become men and women of good character and virtue.
Heart of a Big Brother, Mind of a Student
Robyn had the chance to experience martial arts as a little kid and further on, as a youth. It was through Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that he was ‘fathered’ by his sensei and teachers. This was particularly meaningful and significant to him, having grown up without a real father figure in his home.
Understanding the role that a good male leader plays in one’s life, Robyn approached his students as a big brother figure, even going to the extent of having to drag them out of sticky situations in their youth. His students, who had been with him since their childhood, were able to trust him to take care of and look out for them even off the mats.
Being thrown into the teaching pit as a young martial artist also taught Robyn how to handle the ‘directness’ of children. “Kids are raw!” He described, “They will tell you things like it is.”
“Adults are nice and polite. You can explain something to them and ask if they get it, and they will just say yes. Kids, on the other hand, will just tell you straight to your face that they don’t get it, or that the technique doesn’t work.” Being put in the ‘deep end’ as a young Blue Belt BJJ instructor back then had forced him to find different ways to help the young ones.
As a self-professed avid learner and student, he says that he learned by getting as much information as possible, like reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, and the like. Through experience, his love for learning, combined with his ‘young at heart’ approach to life, he has finally found a comfortable approach to breaking things down to very simple concepts - concepts that even a three-year-old can grasp.
Even so, Robyn does not profess to know everything. He continues to keep an open mind, and learn from his students.
A Rewarding Growth
Robyn has gone a long way since he began in Singapore, from having to gain a rapport with children who could not even remember his name and referred to him as “Professor Red Beard”.
As the Assistant Instructor of most of his classes over the past year, I can testify that his childlike nature, patient ‘big brother’ approach to leadership, as well as his ability to make concepts easy to understand, are truly what keep the classes interesting and engaging. The children are not the only ones learning and benefitting from the classes - I, too, am learning along the way. I am learning what it looks like to teach and capture the attention of little humans with short attention spans. I am learning BJJ differently because I am forced to look at the techniques in a more simplified way. I am also learning how to be a leader to the next generation. There is a lot to thank Professor Robyn for!
As FaMA’s Kids Martial Arts program grows exponentially, with its very first students progressing into more senior belts, Robyn is already making incremental efforts to zone in on each belt level more intentionally, so that each child can receive the special attention that they require in their technique and growth. 2020 is an exciting time for the students and coaching team alike, and I am looking forward to watching the children flourish in technique, confidence, and character this year!
FaMA - Fitness and Martial Arts Established in 2016, FaMA is a world-class martial arts academy located in the heart of the Central Business District in Singapore. Walking distance from Clarke Quay and Fort Canning MRT stations, FaMA’s main goal is to help people improve their lives through martial arts regardless of age or athletic capability. Our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Muay Thai Kickboxing, Kids Martial Arts and Fitness programs are led by experts in their respective fields. So, whether it is weight loss, a fun workout, camaraderie, competition training, or just to break a sweat, FaMA has something for the whole family.