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!

32 Kids Training Free in Sao Paulo

We’re happy to announce that IJEF’s Brazil Project is now teaching jiu-jitsu to a total of 32 children absolutely FREE. Coach Felipe, based in São Paulo, Brazil, and sponsored by Level Up BJJ in West Los Angeles, has been putting in some serious effort to recruit and train as many kids as he can — it’s clear his hard work is paying off!

Way to go Coach Felipe, and keep up the fantastic work!

Welcome Ecuador Post Featured Image
The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund is ecstatic to announce a brand new addition to the IJEF family: Coach Bryan Tamayo of Ecuador! Sponsored by Pacific Top Team out of Corona, CA, Coach Bryan is a dedicated jiu-jitsu coach and practitioner. He loves teaching kids the art and discipline of jiu-jitsu, and he’s beyond excited to be funded by IJEF so he can support himself while living his dream!
We can hardly believe how fast our movement is growing. Join us — sponsor Roll Model or send a child a uniform by making a donation today!

Xela Academy 30 Kids Image
Another day, another exciting update from IJEF, the International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund. Today we’re happy to report Coach Oswaldo of Xela, Guatemala added his 28th student to the roster!
Coach Oswaldo began his instruction with just twelve students, training on a dirt floor in gym shorts. When we came to visit, he had around 20 students. We’re glad we brought some extra uniformss, since his school only continues to grow! In fact, the image for this post was Coach Oswaldo’s academy as of August — from 14 to 28 students in just over a month. Incredible work!
With any luck, Coach Oswaldo will need some more uniforms soon. Help him out by making a donation — just $20 covers the cost to get a brand new kids uniform to his academy!

IJEF in Guatemala Part 2 Photo

Read Part 1 of our mission to Guatemala!

The team arrived in Xela late on Saturday night, after a long but entertaining taxi ride. After hearing about our mission, the taxi driver, Tony “Chucholoco,” expressed how glad he was that we wanted to bring martial arts to the children of Xela. Tony was an extremely caring and giving man himself, having adopted a son who had been abandoned by his 13-year-old mother. Tony dubbed us his “California Angels” and became a member of the team. He would, after all, be staying with us until Monday since he was our ride to the airport!

Oswaldo and his family welcomed the team into his home, and all went to bed excited for the following day to arrive.


When the sun cracked the mountainous horizon of Xela Sunday morning, our team headed into town to buy breakfast for Oswaldo’s village, which consisted of xekas, a sweet bread made by the indigenous Mayans of Xela found almost exclusively in the city’s markets.

Once we had all had our fill, it was time for the jiu-jitsu seminar in Oswaldo’s academy. Professor Erik and Coach Oswaldo laid down the mats donated by Professor Lazaro Murcia and invited Oswaldo’s students onto the mat. One by one, the instructors handed out personal uniforms to each of the children.

The excitement in the room was nearly indescribable. The kids were overjoyed at receiving their uniforms, such a fundamental step in what we hope will be long journeys in jiu-jitsu. They stood together and posed for photos, now a team in both attitude and in looks.


After the uniforms were handed out, Professor Erik revealed a special surprise for Coach Oswaldo, who had spent many years teaching jiu-jitsu to children in the United States before returning to Guatemala. Professor Erik presented him with a Kids Instructor Certificate from the Level Up training system, a milestone Oswaldo was only weeks away from receiving before he parted ways with Erik.

With his mother proudly looking on, Oswaldo tearfully accepted the certificate. Back on the mat together again, Professor Erik and Coach Oswaldo then trained with the children of Xela, in their brand new uniforms, on their brand new mats. We could write more about what this meant to the Oswaldo and his community, but we think his words put it perfectly:

When we returned to my house in Xela, it felt like a dream. Professor Erik and the team were gathering and meeting with my family – I have no words to explain how ecstatic I felt. After they met my family, we began teaching the children in my academy. That day, Professor Erik surprised me with a certification to teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to children. He also told me that IJEF was going to donate uniforms and mats to the children of the academy I opened in Xela. Once again, I was so excited and humbled to know the sport I love, that gave me a new perspective on life, that taught me to appreciate and respect others, was giving me the opportunity to help my own people. And when I say my own people, I’m mean the kids, adults, teenagers, men, and women of Xela. I can’t believe I’ll now have the opportunity to impact their life in a positive way. 

And we at IJEF are so thrilled to help make this community-drive change happen. Thanks for all your hardwork Oswaldo. We can’t wait to see how your academy grows!


Check out our incredible galleries, shot by photographer Stephanie Drews, of the seminar in Xela, Guatemala. As a bonus, we also have images of the art created by the kids during Haleh Davoudi’s art class following the jiu-jitsu training!

Schiller Charitable Foundation Thank You Photo

Charities are nothing without the many dedicated individuals offering their time, money, and effort in pursuit of a larger good for the world. Without our incredible allies and advocates around the world, IJEF would be a few folks with some gis and good ideas, but nothing to show for it.

Today we’d like to thank one of those generous supporters that makes our work possible: James Carter and the Schiller Charitable Foundation.

We’d love to say more on the importance of the Foundation’s contribution, but we think he put it pretty well himself:

I have been a jiu-jitsu practitioner for nearly six years and have yet to see a single person negatively affected by its teachings. Jiu-jitsu is a positive and empowering art that transcends age, gender, and physical ability. The only thing that has been missing, for a large part of the world’s population, is access. Until now. 

Through their efforts, IJEF and its international instructors are profoundly changing the lives of kids around the globe by introducing to them the opportunity to explore jiu-jitsu practice. In an uncertain world, I have no doubt that the future benefits to these children and communities will be multi-generational and deeply meaningful.

Thanks for all you do.



A pair of young students train at the Gracie Barra Guatemala seminar.

Our team arrived in Guatemala City on Thursday morning after a non-stop redeye from LAX, weary but ready to get to work. The first order of business was to meet Oswaldo Vasquez, an old friend of our trip leader, 2nd degree Black Belt Erik Klinger. Oswaldo trained under Erik for years in the United States before returning to Guatemala for personal reasons. Now, he teaches jiu-jitsu to the kids of Xela completely free, receiving a monthly stipend from the International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund to compensate him for his dedication to children’s jiu-jitsu.

Oswaldo took a five-hour bus ride – about as long as the flight from Los Angeles – through the mountains to meet our team in Guatemala City!

It was a joyful reunion for Oswaldo and Erik, a pair who had trained and taught together during Oswaldo’s time in the States. Now, they were together again in pursuit of their shared passion: bringing jiu-jitsu to children.

After meeting Oswaldo, the team linked up with a new friend of IJEF, Marinho. A blue belt in Gracie jiu-jitsu, Marinho uses his talents as a writer to render how “jiu-jitsu is lived in in Guatemala.” For more on the martial arts scene in this Guatemala, check out his fantastic blog, Guate BJJ at www.guatebjj.com.


With Oswaldo and Marinho as guides, the team set off for the Castillo Karate School, a beautiful 2,700 sq. ft. martial arts gym in Zona 11 of Guatemala City. Founded by jiu-jitsu purple belt and Kenpo Karate black belt Jorge Castillo, the school is focused on MMA, Kenpo Karate, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. You can meet the gym over at Guate BJJ!

Professor Castillo and our friends at the Castillo academy were gracious enough to welcome us onto the mat and allow Professor Erik to teach a jiu-jitsu seminar to the students. With 25 training, another 25 looking on, it was a great time for all.

The Castillo Academy Group

The seminar group at the Castillo Academy.

Erik showed some guard passes and submissions from side control before the group broke into open mat. The Castillo gym has a terrific program – our project manager, Ben College, learned that the hard way when he got caught in a rear naked. After open mat, the newly acquainted teams exchanged shirts and rash guards and took plenty of photos for posterity!

But the Castillo academy seminar was not the last chance we would get to train and teach around Guatemala City. On Saturday, the crew headed to Gracie Barra Condado Naranjo Academy in Mixco, a sister city to Guatemala City.


The Gracie Barra academy is headed by Professor Lazaro Murcia, a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He welcomed Professor Erik to teach a seminar to the academy’s enthusiastic students.

In addition to the fine members of the Gracie Barra academy, our team met Otto Estuardo Schumann, one of the founders of the Guatemalan martial arts community who had heard we were in town and dropped by the Gracie academy to say hello. Based in Westlake, California, Otto teaches basic jiu-jitsu to police forces throughout Southern California, but he preserves his passion for his home country, Guatemala. He shared with us his plan to open a massive 14,000 sq. ft. academy for jiu0jitsu and Kenpo Karate in Guatemala City. We sure hope to stay in touch!

Professor Erik Klinger and Professor Lazaro Murcia speak to the students before the seminar at Gracie Barra Guatemala IJEF Around the World

Professor Erik Klinger and Professor Lazaro Murcia speak to the students before the seminar at Gracie Barra Guatemala

After open mat at Gracie Barra, our team was ready for the next leg of the journey – visiting Oswaldo’s home in Xela (known also as Quetzaltenango) to bring uniforms to the children of his village. They were in for another surprise, however, when Professor Murcia offered to donate stacks of his extra foam mats for us to bring to the kids of Xela.

His contribution was a firm reminder of how much our work relies on the kindness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts communities throughout the world. The difference between training on concrete and training on mats for 20 children was erased with a single generous gift. This is why we love what we do!

The team showered, stuffed the mats and all six passengers into a taxi, and set off on the five-hour drive to Xela.

Read about our time at Oswaldo’s academy in Part 2!

IJEF: The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund