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This past weekend, black belt and International Jiu Jitsu Education Fund Vice-President Ishmael Bentley held a fundraising seminar at his Minneapolis-based academy, M-Theory Martial Arts. We’re so proud and excited to see the amazing turnout from jiu jitsu practitioners across the Twin Cities area. We were able to raise over $2000 for IJEF, which will provide months of support and supplies for our instructors and  Thank you to everyone who came to support and who donated to our cause!

We’d like to give a special thanks to Black Arrow Martial Arts, Minnesota Top Team, Southside BJJ, The Academy and its founder Greg Nelson, Spartan Martial Arts, and the Grappling Central Podcast! Hopefully you’ll hear Professor Ishmael soon on Grappling Central — we’ll be sure to share!

Until then, keep Rolling Toward a Better World!

Linsey “Wonder Woman” Williams mixes martial arts, business, and charity to spread jiu jitsu across the globe

For most Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, the beginning of their BJJ journey is to put on a uniform and tie up their belt for the first time. But for professional fighter grappler, and purple belt Linsey Williams, the first steps on her path into jiu-jitsu was a little unconventional.

“I wanted to grapple as a kid but I wasn’t allowed to – until I joined the Army,” she said in an interview. “While I was overseas at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, a bunch of folks got together to do no-gi jiu jitsu twice a week.”

“It was really austere – a few tumbling mats, all of us wearing T-shirts and basketball shorts.”

That was in 2011. Since then, Linsey – who goes by the name “Wonder Woman Williams” – has continued training jiu jitsu. When she returned to the States, she began training in the lineage of the great Pedro Sauer, including some training with IJEF Vice-President Ishmael Bentley.

“Linsey is a great competitor,” said Professor Ishmael. “She blends toughness with compassion and character. That’s a powerful combination.”

While competition has always been important to Linsey and a big part of her training, she recently decided to turn her years of formal training into a professional fighting career.

“I love watching kids grapple because they don’t have the bad habits that adults do. It’s just so pure and pristine. I thought, ‘Yeah, supporting this is something I could really get behind.’ IJEF is something I can stick with.” – Linsey Williams, sponsored fighter for IJEF

In some ways, it wasn’t a big change. After all, she had been training and competing with trademark intensity throughout her time studying for a bachelor’s degree and in the years following. But the transition to making money off fighting still brought new challenges.

“You’re not going out there just to test yourself or just to see how you do and just to win … There’s a professional reputation that goes with it. There’s a record that gets kept and there’s money on the line. It really is a professional career in every sense of the word.”

One element that has taken some getting used to the business side of things. With years of military and technical grappling training under her belt, a higher level of fighting was challenging but not fundamentally new. But managing her career certainly is.

“I’ve taken it upon myself to have the managerial role and the fighter’s role which takes a lot of dedication. You have to do all of the administrative work, create the marketing plan, and do the legwork of reaching out to people and trying to build contacts.”

Linsey “Wonder Woman” Williams executes an arm bar on her competition.

Despite the difficulties, Linsey has also committed herself to using her platform for good. She began her charitable work by donating some of her fight proceeds to those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.

Then she connected to the International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund through Professor Ishmael. Immediately, Linsey saw the good IJEF could do for kids around the world.

“You have to give kids things to do and things to learn and opportunities to try stuff,” she said of IJEF’s mission to give free BJJ to as many children as possible. “I love watching kids grapple because they don’t have the bad habits that adults do.”

“It’s just so pure and pristine. I thought, ‘Yeah, supporting this is something I could really get behind.’ IJEF is something I can stick with.”

Since being introduced to our program, Linsey has raised over $1000 for our cause by donating a percentage of her fight proceeds to IJEF.

Her next opportunity to support will be at the June 30th Fight to Win 78 competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she is based. The money from all the tickets sold in her name go back to her, and in turn, 30% of that goes to bringing free jiu jitsu to kids.

We wish Linsey the best of luck in her Fight to Win grapple against Michelle Donovan and we can’t wait to see where her career will take her – and IJEF. If you’re in the Minneapolis area, check out http://www.f2wbjj.com/ for tickets and support us today!

 

IJEF Cambodia Academy Group Shot

IJEF is pleased to announce the launch of its very first academy in Asia — Cambodia to be exact.

IJEF Vice President Ishmael Bentley worked diligently with Vivaddhana “Vi” Khaou of Phnom Penh, Cambodia to establish an IJEF program at Coach Vi’s outstanding H/Art Academy. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an underrepresented martial arts in Asia, where art forms like muay thai and taekwondo dominate, and Coach Vi has been relentless in trying to bring jiu-jitsu to his home country.

That’s exactly why we’re so excited to be sponsoring Coach Vi. We want to spread BJJ to every corner of the globe, driving community change through the beautiful art we love.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. Coach Vi needs uniforms, supplies, and transportation to support his motivated students. While our monthly stipend will help cover these costs, we can’t wait to travel to see Coach Vi in action. The plan is to go in December (when the weather is driest and sunniest). Plenty of time for Professor Ishmael to learn some Cambodian!

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of this amazing new academy — until then, keep helping us roll toward a better world!

The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund is ecstatic to announce a new partnership with MMA fighter “Wonder Woman” Linsey Williams. A member the US Army, Linsey is a tenacious grappler and fierce strawweight competitor. She trains at M-Theory Martial Arts, the academy founded by IJEF Vice-President Ishmael Bentley.

This February, she won her debut fight under the IJEF banner. The victory – against Hilarie Rose at CES 48 – came by TKO, four minutes into the third round.

We’re so grateful to have Linsey’s support and can’t wait to see all the amazing things she has in store. She’s already raised over $500 for our cause! Check back here for updates on her fights and an interview with the Wonder Woman herself!

The end of 2017 brought some exciting developments for the International Jiu Jitsu Education Fund. First off, a few generous donors ended our year with serious holiday cheer by graciously giving over $1500 to our organization. That money will be used directly to support children training free in IJEF academies worldwide. It will also help us as we look to launch new directions for IJEF in 2018.

Which brings us to our next point… We ended 2018 by forging fresh relationships with countries that are not yet home to IJEF academies. Some expansion will continue our strong presence in Central America. The IJEF mission team who visited Coach Oswaldo in Guatemala took a couple extra days in Central America to make a quick 2-day trip to the bordering country of El Salvador.

The highway from Guatemala was long, windy, and frequently held up by small town traffic and road construction. But our team made the 12-hour trek after saying goodbye to Coach Oswaldo and the results were well worth it. Firs, they met with Claudia Reyes, the director of Social Development for the City of Santa Tecla – the second largest municipality in El Salvador, with about 200,000 citizens. With her, we discussed plans for establishing an IJEF academy in one of the city’s central locations, an idyllic park called The Cafetalón, which houses many positive activities for children.

Following that exciting meeting, our team trucked over to the city of San Salvador, the capital and largest city of El Salvador, in order to meet with Glasswing. This amazing international non-profit works to provide public school children with extracurricular activities, hopefully diverting them from the streets and into science, math, and sports programs. There our team discussed instituting jiu-jitsu classes as part of Glasswing’s existing sports program. Be on the lookout in 2018 for developments on these wonderful fronts!

Where else will IJEF find itself in 2018? Only time will tell – but we can confirm some movement has been made to bring us to Southeast Asia and to new locations in South America! We hope 2018 will be a banner year for spreading jiu-jitsu to vulnerable communities around the world, and we especially hope you’ll join us for the ride!

Happy 2018 from all of us at the International Jiu Jitsu Education Fund, and THANK YOU for your support!!!!

Flooding Portoviejo Ecuador

The bustling city of Portoviejo, Ecuador is a paradise for many who live in and visit the city of about 250,000 people in Ecuador’s Manabí province. Close to the beach, temperatures always hovering around 75°F (24°C), and a rich cultural verve — what’s not to love?

Unfortunately, extreme weather and natural disasters have hit the coastal city hard over the past few years. The April 2016 Ecuadorian Earthquake, which killed over 600 across the country, caused massive damage in Portoviejo. And about a year later, the city experienced 2 months of intense rainfall, leading to historic flooding and massive damage to the metro area.

Beyond the extensive flooding, some of the poorer hillside communities surrounding Portoviejo were destroyed by powerful mudslides that wrecked entire villages. One such community, called San Pablo, was home to many of the IJEF-sponsored children who trained weekly with Coach Bryan Tamayo of Pacific Top Team Ecuador. Most of these kids and their families lost their homes completely and took refuge on a soccer field outside of town.

With no way to reach Coach Bryan’s academy, the children of IJEF’s Ecuador Project couldn’t continue the free training they had attended for the past year. Luckily, Coach Bryan and IJEF had a solution: rent a van and bring the kids to the academy anyway! IJEF’s Board of Directors quickly approved the funds, and within weeks the kids were back at the academy.

Coach Bryan graciously continued to provide transportation as many of the kids returned to their homes, and the academy facilitated the families’ difficult process of rebuilding. Unfortunately, several of the children had to leave the IJEF academy for good, as their family moved too far from Portoviejo. For the rest, life took a winding path back to “normal.”

We’re proud that IJEF was there to help.

An essential part of the International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund (IJEF) mission is delivering support to our jiu-jitsu instructors (we call them “Roll Models”) around the world. 2017 featured trips to our Ecuador and Guatemala projects, in which we delivered uniforms to the kids and training to our Roll Models.

In November of 2017, our team flew to Guatemala to bring suitcases full of T-shirts and uniforms to the children of La Esperanza, a beautiful mountain community on the outskirts of Guatemala’s second largest city, Quetzaltenango. Onboard for this mission were: IJEF founder Professor Erik Klinger, Los Angeles Project Roll Model Alex Karimzad, and IJEF Editor Warren Szewczyk.

The three left Los Angeles on Thanksgiving, right as most Americans were diving headfirst into stuffing and turkey — and they enjoyed an almost-empty LAX airport! Nearly 20 hours later they were in Guatemala and off on a 6 hour drive to meet Oswaldo in his home city.

Arriving at night, the group was greeted by some frigid mountain weather and about 20 heavily-armed police officers. But the team wasn’t in trouble. Instead, the officers had come for a special self-defense seminar taught by

Erik! The group worked on defending against knife attacks and assaults from behind. Their commander even required that all the cadets be choked out (safely, of course) so they wouldn’t experience it for the first time in the field!

Guatemala Police explain training to IJEF

Chief Martinez explains the training he wants for his cadets.

The next day, the IJEF team returned to teach a couple seminars with the kids of Oswaldo’s academy and to hand out uniforms to new and returning students. Oswaldo has put in a ton of hard work since the last time we saw him, and the results are obvious! His academy has moved from a dirt floor in his own home to a nearby recreation center.

The team’s final day was special — a number of women from the community came together to cook a huge lunch for the kids and our IJEF staff. We were so grateful for the hospitality, humility, and thanks this community showed us. After lunch we had an incredible training, filling Oswaldo’s mat with as many kids as possible. It was truly a special moment, as the “veterans” of Coach Oswaldo’s academy were called on to teach the newcomers the basics of jiu-jitsu. They responded as expected — with plenty of enthusiasm to help their fellow kids!

“It’s like a dream”

But the day was not over. Following the seminar, the IJEF team handed out T-shirts — donated graciously by the Sport Jiu-Jitsu International Federation and the North American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation — to each and every child in attendance. Then, with his family looking on, it was time to surprise Coach Oswaldo  — with his purple belt! He could hardly believe it.

“It’s like a dream,” he said, fighting back tears. “To make a life out of jiu-jitsu.”

We can’t wait to see the places this academy will go in 2018!

Coach Oswaldo receives his purple belt from Professor Erik Klinger of Level Up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

 

The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund One Year Anniversary

Join us for the one year anniversary of IJEF!

The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund is celebrating one year of providing free jiu-jitsu to children around the world. What a year it has been. In 12 months, we’ve founded 5 projects — Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Los Angeles. In each of these locations, dedicated Roll Models are guiding children in the ways of jiu-jitsu, teaching focus, discipline, confidence, and respect. Across all 5 sites, more than 200 children are learning jiu-jitsu absolutely FREE! We think that’s something to be proud of!

We’re marking our the one year anniversary of IJEF with a big celebration on Saturday September 9th. The day will feature a great class for the kids along with some special fun and games. Then the adults will hit the mat for a super rolling and open mat. Afterwards, we’ll finish up with a potluck party. All of this is happening at Level Up West Los Angeles on Saturday September 9th… Can’t wait to see you there!

M Theory Martial Arts Fundraiser in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Thanks to M-Theory Martial Arts and The Academy!

Saturday June 10th marked the first fundraiser with IJEF-affiliated academies M-Theory Martial Arts and The Academy. These two schools helped The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund raise over $1900 for the IJEF mission!!! As our staff is works on an entirely volunteer basis, 100% of these funds will go to helping spread jiu-jitsu practice to underprivileged communities in Ecuador, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, Los Angeles, and elsewhere around the world!

According the fundraiser’s organizer, Professor Ishmael Bentley, over 60 students attended the two-part seminar, which began at The Academy in the morning and finished at M-Theory in the afternoon. Among the attendees were a total of NINE black belts — amazing to have so much jiu-jitsu knowledge concentrated in one place!

The morning began with accomplished martial artist Renan Vital showing some judo moves and guard passes. Then Professor Ishmael showed some guard passes, followed by Professor Greg demonstrating some escapes from side control.

Then in the afternoon, Professor Greg showed a number of further guard passes and Professor Ishmael instructing the group in some attacks from the closed guard.

Thanks again to everyone who came out to this event and donated to the IJEF mission! We absolutely could not do what we do without the generous support of so many dedicated jiu-jitsu practitioners helping us Roll Toward a Better World!

M Theory Martial Arts IJEF Fundraiser June 2017

Calling all BJJers in the Minneapolis area!

Here at The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund, we’re honored to have the support of martial artists and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies across the world. One of our most committed supporting academies — M-Theory Martial Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota — is showing their support for IJEF this weekend with an amazing black belt seminar and fundraiser THIS SATURDAY June 10 starting at 10 AM! M-Theory’s head instructor, 3rd degree black belt Professor Ishmael Bentley will be joined by Professors Jared Feierabend and Greg Nelson, who are generously donating their time for a two-part seminar! Three black belts, two separate seminars — what more could a jiu-jitsu lover ask for?

The day will kick off at Professor Nelson’s school, The Academy, from 10 AM to 12 PM. After a quick lunch and buzz over to Professor Bentley’s academy, the jiu-jitsu will continue! We hope to see a big turnout to benefit our efforts to bring free jiu-jitsu to children across the world.

And best of all, the ultra-talented black belts Renan and Rubens Vital will be on the mat taking on any and all challengers — hope to see you there!

IJEF: The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund