The YMCA has a program called “Indian Guides” and its slogan is “Pals Forever.” The program’s purpose is “to foster the understanding and companionship of father and son.” It’s designed for dads and their boys, aged kindergarten to 3rd grade, and gives them opportunities to spend quality time together, while building memories that will last a lifetime.
Matt Hartanov is the Tribal Chief of the Shoshone Tribe in Orange County, California. His group consists of 15 dads and their sons, which totals about 24 kids. Recently, Hartanov, who is a Gracie Barra blue belt, wanted to find a local activity on a Saturday morning for fathers and sons to do together, before all the other weekend events started, “I’m always looking for something new to do for the families, so we can all learn something we haven’t experienced before,” Hartanov, says, “I love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wanted to share my family’s experience with the other members of the tribe, so I set up an hour one Saturday morning for all of us to get some exercise before starting our busy weekend activities.”
Hartanov said there were 12 dads and over 16 kids on the mats the day they caravanned to the school, “We had a full mat. It was great. Our coaches, Felipe Guedes and Charles Gomes, were there at 7:45 am on a Saturday morning to lead the class.” Hartanov says this is typical behavior of his Jiu-Jitsu coaches, “They are so dedicated, not only to the school, but to their students as well. They care about the community, and want to make a difference in people’s lives. They’re a great influence on our kids’ lives.”
Coach Guedes said it was a special day for all, “Fathers and sons had the chance to learn some great Jiu-Jitsu and play some games on the mats. I prepared a special anti-bully class for the visitors, some of whom were already students at our school.” Guedes said he opened the class with an introduction of what Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is, “Some of the fathers and sons had never experienced Jiu-Jitsu in any form before, so I explained to the group what it is and then talked about the benefits of being able to defend yourself, whether outside at night or on the playground during the day.”
Guedes and Gomes put the group through the GB warm-up and after they finished, they began teaching them some basic Jiu-Jitsu fundamental techniques, “It’s always special to see the bond between parents and their kids, and Jiu-Jitsu definitely makes that bond even stronger when they have the chance to train together.”
After class Guedes and Gomes talked to the guys about how important Jiu-Jitsu can be to their lives and covered the major benefits of Jiu-Jitsu, like, self-defense, a healthier lifestyle, increased self-confidence, exercise, making friends, and mostly, having fun, “Everyone had such a great time today,” Guedes said, “It was such an honor teaching and training with these fathers and sons. I really enjoyed myself.”
Hartanov said it was really fun watching the dads and kids working together on the mats, “I think the kids learned a lot about self-defense. Fathers and sons learned real world techniques to defend themselves in any situation. Wherever you find yourself in life and no matter how old or young you are, you can always use them. Everyone had a great time and I’m thankful for the experience we all shared today with our sons and each other.”