Live Jiu-Jitsu & Higher Ground team up to offer unique opportunity for at-risk youth to compete in Jiu-Jitsu

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A select group of 10 athletes competed in their first gi tournament at the 6th Southwest BJJ Classic Championship in Arizona. This was all made possible by Live Jiu-Jitsu and Higher Ground teaming up to offer this great opportunity.

Live Jiu-Jitsu is a non-profit organization that aims to inspire positive change in the lives of impoverished communities through the study and implementation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They provide opportunities for students to embrace the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu while enhancing their livelihood. Its co-founder and GMA member, Gustavo Dantas is also the president of GD Events that helped 10 students to compete at the Southwest Classic Tournament.

Higher Ground is a non-profit organization for at-risk youth in Tucson, Arizona. They have over 60 kids in their Jiu-Jitsu program, all of whom have several mental and behavioral issues.

Jansen Azarias, Director at Higher Ground writes:

“Jiu-Jitsu is a life-changing program at Higher Ground. With over 50 students practicing it on a daily basis, the mats have become a place of transformation – from bullies to leaders, from bullied to warriors. It’s a place where students who are labeled as troublemakers transform their behavior and character in and out of the mats, labeled at-risk become champions, and a place where lives are continually transformed with each day of grappling.

The 10 students that GD Events and Live Jiu-Jitsu sponsored are the epitome of this transformation. Four of those students come from the same family. When they came to Higher Ground last year, their mother had just left them at their grandma’s doorstep to run away with her boyfriend. Three brothers and a sister full of confusion, anger and hopelessness with no one to turn to. Seeing the loss of confidence and the build up of anger, we quickly plugged them in our Jiu Jitsu program. Here we saw the oldest brother flourish and see his anger from a different light. He began to realize that if he can control it and release it on the mats, he had no need to release it by fighting or shutting other people out.

He began to find his passion on the mats. He slowly began to motivate himself in school so that he can go to practice. Day in and day out, he learned to make himself better and see each tap, as a learning experience. His 2 brothers also found the same relief in Jiu-Jitsu. In school they were being labeled as troublemakers. But soon after stepping on the mats, their energy and anger got channeled into something that labeled them as warriors. They joined their first tournament where they saw themselves as champions instead of troublemakers.

Finally, their sister learned to overcome her fear on the mats as well. After the whole ordeal, she had felt abandoned. Stepping onto the mats, she found her new family and strength to face her fears. As she realized quickly that it was passion, not talent that creates champions, she began to dedicate her time to practicing more and more each day. She began to surpass many students in the class, which built her confidence, realizing that she was capable of doing more things.

The other students selected had also gone through several ordeals in their lives and have used Jiu-Jitsu as a way to overcome it. Every single student was selected for their positive attitude, hard work, good grades, and the amount of passion they have shown.

While all students work hard and had their own obstacles to overcome, these 10 were selected for their exceptional dedication to making themselves better in every aspect of their lives, using Jiu Jitsu as the catalyst and motivation.

Thank you GD Events for allowing these students to compete in their first gi tournament.”

To support Live Jiu Jitsu make a difference in the community please their website at:

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