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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!

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!

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!

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!

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.

BREAKFAST IN XELA

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.

OSWALDO’S SURPRISE

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!

WAIT THERE’S MORE

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.

 

Jim

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