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Gracie News

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for the Blind!

March 10, 2014

Visually impaired kids make major progress through GJJ!

Beginning back in July 2012, Braille Institute youth met with Guido Jenniges at the Gracie Academy in Torrance. These students come from the inner city neighborhoods of South Los Angeles and are blind and visually impaired. They struggle with the same trials and tribulations as any other student at school, but experience them with little to no vision. At first, the students went into the studio not knowing what Jiu-Jitsu meant. In fact, they are not challenged to participate in regular Physical Education and either as many realize that not being able to see a moving ball was dangerous, and could possibly blind some of them that were already struggling with sight loss. Therefore, the blind population in many cases has struggled with obesity due to limited motor movement and exercise. However, the young students quickly learned that despite at Gracie Academy and working with Guido and other wonderful teachers, that not being able to see was not an obstacle; they could still practice Jiu-Jitsu and that it was fun too.

After working with a dedicated team of instructors weekly for over a year, we've witnessed the students grow in physical agility, self-confidence and self- determination. They learned how to communicate with respect in any compromised bullying situation and to stand up for themselves. It was rewarding to see them smile and beam with pride whenever they figured out how to successfully apply what Guido so descriptively taught them on the mat. Guido taught with the mind and served from the heart. May the discipline our Braille Institute youth learn through the martial arts of Jiu-Jitsu at Gracie Academy transcend into their daily lives, preparing them to become meaningful adults in their communities. Thank you very much Gracie Academy for teaching the Art of Jiu-Jitsu, which can truly make a difference in kids lives, sighted or visually impaired. Thank you for all the other teachers who show up and made a commitment to share this physical art form with blind and visually impaired youth. It has been a joy to watch these students grow with pride in themselves!

Braille Institute is a free non-profit organization that was established in 1919 to help blind and visually impaired individuals break down the barriers to empower them to live fulfilling lives.

Christina Tam
Braille Institute

For more information on this program please contact Christina Tam at the Braille Institute (323) 663-1111 x 1208