The film Bully proves the USA has a problem. And Jiu-Jitsu may be the solution

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How do you make friends and learn to defend yourself from violent classmates? With Jiu-Jitsu, preaches the new Gracie Barra campaign. Publicity photo.

If schoolyard bullying is a disease, cinema may be the cure. That’s the idea behind film director Lee Hirsh’s latest work, Bully, in the US box office right now. The movie is overpowering, a punch in the gut to anyone who felt the problem was merely a rite of passage kids have to go through to mature. Through scenes capturing violent assaults and reports of suicide, the movie stirs the emotions and proves once and for all that bullying, at least in the USA, is a serious social and public health problem. They’ve tried everything. But how about Jiu-Jitsu?

In a recent article in Brazilian weekly magazine Carta Capital, the psychiatrist Gustavo Teixeira, a professor at Bridgewater University in the US state of Massachusetts, defines school bullying as follows: “when there’s an relationship of power between two individuals and a child or teenager suffers frequent physical or emotional violence.”

In tackling the problem, the solutions so far come up with are equal parts utopic and confusing, like “awareness building” for inexperienced parents, the meanies themselves, and teachers and school superintendents who are often at a loss when it comes to how they should proceed. So far, though, there’s been little discussion of spreading an individual and direct remedy: protecting the victim by teaching martial arts like Jiu-Jitsu.

Ever since the days of Grandmaster Carlos Gracie, a lot of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies have understood the solution to be injecting confident and self-defense techniques into the youth, who are helpless by nature. Nowadays, the role of Jiu-Jitsu schools extends even further, as it serves to unite boys and girls of different age groups, parents, educators and experienced black belts within the same environment. By sowing the seeds of mutual respect and self-confidence, Jiu-Jitsu sprouts friendships, thereby leaving bullying no room to flourish.

That’s something the folks at the Gracie Barra network of schools took note of. Starting in June, GB plans to spread the idea throughout American territory. The goal is as bold as it is admirable: to attack the evil at every school and town, to win over the country.

“Anyone who knows Jiu-Jitsu knows how kids don’t need to be physically strong to defend themselves. We managed to gather teachers who’ve already spent years studying Jiu-Jitsu for kids from across the United States. Together, they put together specific self-defense techniques and a ‘No-Bullying’ course for our schools. If we can get all the GB schools around the world to embrace this important cause, we can make a difference,” stated Flavio “Cachorrinho” Almeida, the executive director at Gracie Barra.

The campaign and teaching of techniques is already underway. If you missed the first internet seminars, contact your school or email

If you have your own ideas on how to deal with the bullying issue in the USA, Brazil or the rest of the world, share them with us in the comments field below.

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