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None of the kids on this list are over 14 years old but they still scare the crap out of us, and you should be scared too. And if they’re this good now, just think how insanely skilled they'll be 10 years from now!
Kade and Tye RuotoloSince they were three years old, twin brothers Kade and Tye have been rolling around with their blue belt dad Chris. What started out as a game at home progressed into signing up at a gym. Nine years later, Kade and Tye are some of the best orange belts in the world, and their dad is a black belt. How things chage.
Training out of the Art of Jiu-Jitsu academy in Costa Mesa, the brothers learn from the noted Rafael and Guillherme Mendes. Though not twins, the world champion brothers have evolved into similar yet different fighters, much as the boys are doing. As you’d expect from students of the Mendes bros, they have excellent guards and love to berimbolo.
One look at their social media will tell you what kind of competitors they are. They are focussed and driven, yet they balance this with a playful creativity and willingness to try new positions. Due to their success they now train in the adults class, the youngest kids to be allowed to do so.
“Our goals for the near future are to constantly improve ourselves on the mat, in school and in life,” they say. “To avoid getting burnt out, we do other sports like surfing and skating and we have other hobbies like fishing and cooking. We can't ever imagine our lives without jiu-jitsu though.”
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Photo by Kenny Jewel / Grapple TV
Alyssa Mia Wilson13-year-old Alyssa hails from LA and trains at Checkmat under legendary world champ Leo Vieira. She’s an orange belt in jiu-jitsu and began training jiu-jitsu alongside her dad at four years old after experimenting with gymnastics and ballet.
Her energetic nature took well to jiu-jitsu classes and she found an outlet that suited her. She’s one of the most active kids competing in the SoCal area and is one of the main teenage representatives of the Checkmat team. “What helps me develop my jiu jitsu is having a supportive team,” she says. “and I always have fun and laugh.” Alyssa trains up to three times a day and helps out with the kids class where her little sister also trains.
Alyssa has appeared twice on the Eddie Bravo Invitational (EBI) in teen superfights competing under no-gi submission-only rules. “I never really trained no gi and I never liked it,” she says, although she admits now that she’s changing her mind. “EBI pushed me to be a tougher fighter to learn submissions I never used, and to fight for only submissions – now I really like that when I compete.”
Her ultimate goal? Nothing less than to be a black belt world champion, have her own gym and travel the world teaching seminars. And why not?
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Jhonathan ‘Moicano’ Marques14 years of age and from Rio de Janeiro, ‘Moicano’ is a green belt training under the supervision of Fernando ‘Terere’. One of the all-time greats of his generation Terere started at an early age and has been quietly developing a team of youngsters in his image: technical, aggressive and very promising competitors.
Marques stands out as one of the most talented in the gym and he regularly taps out adults who outweight him by up to 20kg (45lb). With long legs and a killer de la riva guard he’s a berimbolo machine who loves to learn new moves from YouTube.
The teen loves to compete and has been bringing home plenty of gold, including medals at the Brazilian Nationals and Rio Challenge.
From the same favela as Terere, Moicano faces daily struggles to make it to the gym. Things are made easier as Terere runs a social project where kids like Marques train from free and can stay away from some of the negative influences they may otherwise encounter. "I practice Jiu Jitsu because I love this sport. I live in a very poor community, but I always find a way to train because I love what I do."
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Harriet Slym11-year-old Harriet was born in the UK but lives on the Gold Coast in Australia where she trains with Alliance black belt Vincente Calvalcanti. Harriet’s father Paul started training jiu-jitsu in the UK around 10 years ago and as she was always hanging around the gym she decided to give it a go. “She was the type of girl who liked a daily wrestle anyway,” jokes Paul.
Harriet usually trains five days a week at the gym, but loves to drill at home with her dad, sometimes getting in up to four extra sessions. She started competing only a year and a half ago and in the last 15 months she’s won 16 gold medals, including 3 big state titles in gi and no-gi. “She hasn’t lost a match or had her guard passed since February,” says Paul. “In her 48 or so matches, only four or five were against girls her own weight. Mostly they’ve been against boys, or older, heavier girls.”
Sponsored by Do or Die Hyperfly, Harriet and her family will soon visit California for a training vacation and it just so happens to coincide with the IBJJF Kids International Championship. The main focus will be training rather than competing, though says Paul: “She's still a work in progress and trying to take her game to the next level.”
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Know any amazing jiu-jitsu kids? Let us know in the comments so we can check them out and include them in future articles!