IJEF Guatemala The International Jiu Jitsu Education Fund

We’re back from the International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund’s first international volunteer trip! The team returned to Los Angeles in the wee hours of Tuesday morning — tired, but full of satisfaction after such a fantastic trip.

As we said in our last post, the goals of this mission were twofold: 1) to provide gis and mats to one of our earliest Roll Models, Coach Oswaldo, and 2) to meet, train with, and teach as many Guatemalan martial arts practitioners as possible. We accomplished both and much more!

Check out our more detailed account of the trip — here in Part 1 and Part 2!

IJEF Guatemala Mission IJEF The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund Rolling Toward A Better World

Our inaugural mission kicks off — the International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund is Guatemala-bound!

The IJEF Guatemala Mission 2016 leaves this week to deliver uniforms and training mats to the children of Guatemala.

The goals of this trip are two-fold. First and foremost, we’re heading to western Guatemala to see our good friend Coach Oswaldo Vasquez, one our our earliest international instructors. Oswaldo has been teaching jiu-jitsu to the kids of Quetzaltenango — known also by its Mayan name, Xela — for 6 months now, and though they lack uniforms and mats, their drive to train is endless! Thankfully, this will be their last week training no-gi– our suitcases are stuffed with brand new uniforms!

Our second goal is to continue to expand our network of Guatemalan jiu-jitsu practitioners and hopefully add another international instructor to our team. We’ve got a full itinerary. Our team has plans to visit gyms across the country, teach several seminars, and meet as many jiu-jitsu students as possible. As a bonus, a generous volunteer is bringing an assortment of art supplies to teach art to the children of Oswaldo’s academy!

Check back here for updates upon our return!

Welcome to IJEF The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund

The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund is a charity determined to bring our beloved martial art to children across the globe. From Brazilian shantytowns to the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, IJEF operates under a simple ethos: the more kids learning jiu-jitsu today, the better off the world is tomorrow. That’s because we know that jiu-jitsu represents more than a martial art. It’s respect, discipline, and family.

IJEF originated with the most elemental relationship in all of jiu-jitsu practice: professor and student.

The professor was Erik Klinger, 2nd degree black belt and instructor for over 25 years. The student was a recent immigrant to the United States, just 18 at the time. For five years the professor taught the discipline of jiu-jitsu to the student. Like many young martial artists who have felt the pull of jiu-jitsu, he seemed to be at the academy more than he was away from it, training more often than not. He often helped instruct kids’ classes, constantly learning and improving until he was teaching on his own. But when he eventually made the difficult decision to return to his home country to be with family, he was a coach and student no longer.

Years passed. The relationship simmered until the day Erik received a call from his long-time student.

Child Learns from Roll Model Oswaldo Vasquez of Xela, Guatemala

A young child listens to Coach Oswaldo’s instructions in Xela, Guatemala.

“Have you been training?” the professor asked.

“There is no jiu-jitsu here, professor. There is nobody teaching,” replied the student.

“Then why don’t you teach?”

The student considered it for a moment. “It would be a joy to do so. But I have no uniforms, no mats, and no time outside of my work.”

And there it was: an opportunity to spread jiu-jitsu to a place where it hadn’t been before.

“My friend,” Erik told the student, “we’ll get you the uniforms, the mats, and the money to support yourself. In return, find as many kids as you can and start teaching them — for free — wherever you can find the space.”

And so, IJEF was born.

This modest beginning– a bond between student and professor– has grown into an international non-profit with instructors in four different countries and counting. The efforts of these dedicated individuals have brought scores of newcomers into the jiu-jitsu community. Children are learning. Lives are changing. And with the help of so many generous believers in the power of jiu-jitsu, the movement continues to flourish.

IJEF: The International Jiu-Jitsu Education Fund