Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Classes Teach Self-Defense to Kids; Kid-Jitsu Is Based on Jujitsu and Emphasizes Avoiding Conflict

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Classes Teach Self-Defense to Kids; Kid-Jitsu Is Based on Jujitsu and Emphasizes Avoiding Conflict

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTY WHITEHEAD

A girl with dark, curly hair straddles a smaller blond girl, their hands near each other's throats. The girls appear poised for a confrontation. But the blonde is laughing.

And there will be no bloody noses, now or in the future, if Larry Shealy of Jax Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has his way.

In a world where television and movies glorify hitting and violence, Shealy's martial arts program is different. He teaches children how to fend off someone, including school bullies or kidnappers, by their movements and if push comes to shove, how to subdue someone - and then run. But not to hit.

Shealy has taught Brazilian jujitsu to adults for several years in Neptune Beach and recently created the first established "kid-jitsu" program for children in the country.

"We teach the kids to resist and escape, to get away," Shealy said. "But there are times you can't get away."

Shealy said that the majority of all fights end up on the ground, so jujitsu and kid-jitsu starts from that position.

Shealy said the program can provide an equalizer, because if two 8-year-olds are punching each other, the stronger one is likely to win. But when the children hit the ground, jujitsu isn't about strength, it's about maneuvering.

Halle Piacente, 10, is one of the girls who takes the class. She said her brother, who also takes the class, doesn't dare try to tangle with her.

"He knows I'll make him tap out [give up]," she said. "He's 7, I spar with bigger boys. ... I'm strong."

Jim Gibson of Mayport takes the adult program and recently became certified to teach kid-jitsu.

Gibson has five children; the oldest are 10-year-old twins. He said they were being taunted and held down by other children at school. Gibson didn't know what to do, so he enrolled the twins in kid-jitsu. He said the twins no longer get taunted and it provides them some discipline. …

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