With my first son, we found out at a gestational ultrasound that we were expecting a boy. We were over the moon delighted. We had a boy name picked out and we really hoped our first child would be a boy. We knew right away that it would be only a matter of years until we would have him taking some type of martial arts class – it was an important skill we both felt boys should learn.
He was probably about three the first time I started asking various teachers at what age they accept students and checking out different styles of martial arts that are taught near us. My husband, having been trained in martial arts and an experienced fighter, had specific requirements for any instructor, program, or school in which we would enroll our kids. He always voted no for any that I suggested.
And then one day, the tides turned. Too dramatic?
Gracie Jiu Jitsu
It happened shortly after we had Jarrett Arthur, a self-defense instructor, on a web show I produced. She practices Krav Maga, which I find incredibly awesome. Tim was researching various martial arts schools in the area and found that a Gracie Jiu Jitsu facility had opened up nearby. THIS is the one, he said. And so our research moved to the next level. The history, philosophy, and programs offered by Gracie Jiu Jitsu Fort Wayne are the reason that we chose to enroll our son in their BullyProof program.
The Origins of Gracie Jiu Jitsu
Helio Gracie, the youngest of 8 children from Gastão and Cesalina Gracie was small and frail child whose physical capabilities left him weaker than his siblings. His oldest brother Carlos Gracie was taught Japanese Jiu Jitsu from champion Esai Maeda (also known as Conde Koma) who was trained by Kano at the Kodokan in Japan.
Carlos in turn trained his brothers and others in Rio de Janero while Helio watched – he was not allowed to train due to his physical limitations. Helio memorized the techniques that his brother taught and became an instructor after he stepped in to teach a class for Carlos at the age of 16, having trained only by watching his brother instruct others, and was very successful.
After that point, Helio began to change the techniques taught by his brother to be more effective with his limitations – focusing on leverage and timing over speed and strength. These adapted techniques are known as Gracie or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ll never admit it to my dad, but I greatly value the importance of history – and the history of the Gracie family had great bearing on our decision to enroll our child in their training.
The Gracie Philosophy
The Gracie Philosophy, passed down from Grand Masters Carlos and Helio Gracie, relies on efficiency, patience, and control in all aspects of life. Healthy eating, being honest, being respectful, and working hard are all aspects of the principle of efficiency. Gracie Jiu Jitsu teaches efficiency as “the ability to achieve maximum output with minimum input” (see Philosophy here) not just in practicing the techniques, but in all aspects of life. Being patient, not acting on impulses, and taking the time to consider options, actions, and consequences are part of the philosophy as well.
Self-control and discipline, including refraining from drugs or alcohol, choosing nutritious and healthy foods, and regularly exercising are all parts of the Gracie Philosophy of control – in addition to imposing your will on your opponent in a fight. This kind of philosophy that extends beyond the mat into the life of our children and holds true the same practices that we teach them is very important to us – it is exactly in line with what we believe about healthy living.
Gracie Jiu Jitsu Fort Wayne
Gracie Jiu Jitsu Fort Wayne is a level 4 training center certified by Ryron and Renier Gracie of the main Gracie Academy in Torrence, CA. The level 4 status means that the training center is authorized and capable of teaching the techniques required for black belt status (read about the certification levels here).
Programs offered include Gracie Combatives – a program that was designed for an elite unit of the US Armed Forces and has been taught to federal law enforcement agencies and military organizations in the country. The Combatives program is the beginner’s introduction to Gracie Jiu Jitsu and continues through blue belt.
The advanced curriculum is called the Master Cycle and guides the student from blue belt through black belt training. The Fort Wayne training center also teaches the BullyProof program.
Gracie BullyProof Program
The Gracie BullyProof program, offered by the Fort Wayne training center, uses nonviolent techniques to teach confidence, positive values and good character that are the standard of the Gracie Philosophy.
This program trains children using assertiveness and self-defense to neutralize bullies.
One of my favorite aspects is the Gracie Game Day where our children earn points by doing chores without complaining when asked or without being asked for the privilege of attending the Game Day.
The techniques are taught in the Little Champs program using games – while they are learning techniques like back mount, to the kids they are playing a game called Crazy Horse. Because they don’t teach punching or kicking, the kids are learning to control the situation and negotiate a solution.
Our Experience with Gracie Jiu Jitsu Fort Wayne
We have been sending our son to the BullyProof Little Champs program at the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Fort Wayne training center for just under a month now. In that time, he’s learned multiple techniques and the focus has been on health. During the class the instructor has the kids exercising with a variety of animal walks (my son LOVES to demonstrate these at home!), followed by a discussion in a circle (just like preschool circle time), and then demonstrates new games.
The kids practice with the instructor and with each other to learn how to play the games. My son is loving it, and we signed him up for a year of instruction. He’s already asking if he’ll be able to take it next year too! If you are in the area (they also have a site in La Grange), and you’re looking for a confidence building, non-violent approach to teach your child about self-defense and wellness, then I would highly recommend that you check out Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
They offer a 10-day free trial and a variety of options for taking the classes. We opted for a year’s membership because my son will be able to practice at home watching the videos on the GracieKids.com website. If you’re not in the local area, you can find a training center near you or even train at home with the options available at GracieUniversity.com. In short, I highly recommend you check out Gracie Jiu Jitsu!
Check out this video for the official information from Gracie Academy about the BullyProof program (they explain it way better than I do!):
Disclosure: This is not in any way a paid advertisement. I purchased a membership for my son. In fact, neither the local training center nor the Gracie company are aware that I am writing this article.
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