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!


this picture describes Saturday’s competition, completely. Caring, support and friendship was felt by all! On Saturday, April 22nd 2017 the first ever IJEF Benefit Tournament was held at Pacific Top Team, Corona hosted by Jiu Jitsu Connection and many supportive academies in Southern California.
Almost 100 competitors came together to compete in this milestone of an event. There were kids of all ages and adults as well competing for a great cause in an effort to support children in South America and around the world to help provide uniforms and Jiu Jitsu to these impoverished communities. Several academies participated including Vilanova Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Camarillo, Level Up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu West Los Angeles, Inner Strength Martial Arts Santa Maria, All American Jiu Jitsu Academy, and others. Jiu Jitsu Connection is a movement of friendly schools getting together to promote Jiu Jitsu, friendship, and helping others in a positive environment and for positive causes such as supporting the International Jiu Jitsu Education Fund. We’d like to thank everyone for participating and we appreciate you so much! Your support means everything!!??
#IJEF #InternationalJiuJitsuEducationFund #RollingTowardABetterWorld#friendship #JiuJitsuConnection

Jiu Jitsu Connection

Come to the Jiu Jitsu Connection IJEF Benefit Tournament, Saturday April 22nd!

This weekend’s Jiu Jitsu Connection IJEF Benefit Tournament will be the first in-house tournament held by Jiu Jitsu Connection — we are so excited to have the support of this California-based Jiu Jitsu association. Jiu Jitsu Connection is an association of friendly academies that get together for training, exchange, and support. They’ve been highly involved with a number of charitable organizations, raising funds for breast cancer awareness, important surgeries for members of associated academies, and now IJEF kids! Originating with Level Up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in West Los Angeles, Pacific Top Team in Corona, and Vilanova Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Camarillo, Jiu Jitsu Connection has grown to several other academies and has become a great movement of Jiu Jitsu friendship.

Thank you Jiu Jitsu Connection for your support of the International Jiu Jitsu Education Fund! If you’re interested in participating in the Benenfit Tournament, check the Facebook event or contact Pacific Top Team in Corona, California, the host of the tournament.

#IJEF #JiuJitsuConnection #RollingTowardABetterWorld

Jiu Jitsu Connection


Congratulations to Coach Bryan Tamayo, Pacific Top Team Ecuador and Team Viejo Luchador! They hosted the first ever IJEF Ecuador Kids Tournament! We also want to congratulation all of the kids on an outstanding job! Coach Bryan and his staff in Porto Viejo, Ecuador have been running the IJEF project there for almost a year now and have almost 50 students consistently practicing in the IJEF kids classes. Coach Bryan started by advertising in the local slum which is on an adjacent hill facing his academy. He advertised to parents of children who had no activity to do and who had no money to afford activities for their children. The slum that they are a part of is called, San Pablo and is notorious for poverty and violence. Coach Bryan brought these children in with the support of the International Jiu Jitsu Education Fund sponsorship and now these children are training and have uniforms and hope. This tournament is a testament to their hard work and that of Coach Bryan and his staff. Congratulations everyone on your hard work!
#RollingTowardABetterWorld #IJEFEcuador #JiuJitsuEcuador #PortoViejo #KidsTrainFree

40 Kids Training Free IJEF Ecuador Image

Wow! Coach Bryan Tamayo of the Ecuador Project has already increased his enrollment from 15 to 40 kids in just a few short weeks! What a dedicated Roll Model. Bryan’s work really illustrates the community-building power of jiu-jitsu. When these kids are “on the mat” — a revered and special place for a martial artist — they are expected to practice mutual respect and to work as a team to make everyone better. They learn to love others’ success as much as they love their own. And these principles pay off — just look how much fun they’re having in this image, courtesy of Coach Bryan!

Our focus is now to get each of these kids a personal uniform, known as a gi, as soon as possible. Donate to make this mission happen. Just $20 will buy and deliver a gi to one of these awesome kids!

IJEF: The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund