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By Matt Ives, Educational Specialist for the Hale Kipa School Success Program on Kauai

The Hale Kipa School Success Jiujitsu program was developed by collaborating with Powerhouse Jiujitsu one summer ago. Since then we have had great success in getting students interested in going to class, reducing school based behaviors, and keeping students healthier in the process mentally and physically. The working relationship that Hale Kipa and Power House Jiujitsu have built has been one in which two visions for working with youth, have collided. Hale Kipa and Power House JiuJitsu staff have both seen great results and feel that this is a program that works with each other’s support.

Jiujitsu has grown in popularity in the last decade and most youth know a little bit about it, just because of the rise of MMA in mainstream media, but no matter how they view it, they all seem to have respect for it and a desire to learn more about it.   So there is a high level of interest for the kids and participation has been excellent. There have been a few barriers with certain youth getting them in the door (i.e. misconceptions of what it is like, anxieties, and finding uniforms.) In Brazilian Jiujitsu or “Art Du Sauve” (the gentle art) there are many paths one can take. One youth could remain focused on competing in the next tournament while another is learning how to defend himself from a bully, and yet another may just enjoy working out and having fun with friends learning something.   All by the way help keep them out of trouble once they are stoked on being there. In the Jiujitsu class I have seen students who are just bouncing around a touch out of control in school, be calm, focused, and attentive at Jiujitsu class.

Throughout the last year amongst the kids that kept coming, there seemed to be a reduction in the number of school based incidents that students had, in comparison to time prior to our involvement in youths’ lives (based on school staff reporting). We only had 3 that incidents happen while students participated in the program so far. When these issues surfaced being well connected with the Jiujitsu staff really seemed to pay out. The kids love to come and when they were confronted about these situations by coaches even if the message staff was sending was encouraging it seemed to invoke remorse at another level.

When students learn Jiujitsu, they get an incredible workout physically and they are challenged mentally as well.   The physical side comes whether or not you are ready for it. Most students recognize that they are working out but unlike getting on a tread mill they are excited to do it. In addition to exercise, coaches also talk to students about making healthier eating choices on a regular basis.  The grappling, students find is like chess, with its calculated moves requiring problem solving and planning. Through leverage and technique a much smaller student can learn to remain safe and even control a much larger student, which tends to inspire confidence in bullied youth allowing them to feel more comfortable around peers and adults.

Students we have worked with have had the benefits of multiple coaches in their lives and a community of athletes that encourage them to do well in life. They have gained a new confidence around peers and people in general, remain in better physical shape and are educated about healthier eating choices. To top things off the school based reports we receive from teachers and staff remain mostly positive. Our collaborative Hale Kipa/Power House Jiujitsu program has put a smile on many kids’ faces and has helped them overcome obstacles in their lives with support.