August 5, 2019 Staff Report
A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) center in Long Island City will be hosting a “Back-to-School Open House” in early September, where it will be offering parents discounts to enroll their kids into its new line of after-school classes.
Team Jucao BJJ LIC, located at 44-61 11th St., began offering adult classes when it first opened its doors in December. This will be the first program for children.
The upcoming open house will focus on a new line of classes geared towards children ages 5 to 12. The free event is scheduled to take place at the gym on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 11:30 a.m.
The gym’s founder and BJJ first-degree black belt, Chad Smith, will divide the fall schedule of classes by different age groups based on enrollment.
BJJ-certified instructors at the gym will train children from ages 5 to 12 in one set of classes, while kids ages 3 to 5 that enroll will be given more individualized attention in smaller, separate sessions.
Smith said the gym’s primary goal is to bestow the values of discipline, confidence and mutual respect onto students by using the foundations and practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
He explained that learning BJJ is appropriate for children of all ages, because the art focuses on diffusing physical confrontation through grapples as opposed to teaching students to strike their opponents.
“Most martial arts schools teach kids how to spar and strike, even if it’s in a safe way,” Smith said. “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is different in that it shows students how to neutralize physical confrontation through grappling techniques. This also helps provide them strategic leverage over attackers who may be taller or heavier than they are.”
Smith began teaching children the martial art in 2012 at a Team Jucao BJJ gym in the Upper West Side. In 2016, he moved to Long Island City where he decided to open his own center after noticing there was a lack of training options for neighborhood residents.
Smith’s gym is the first to open in Queens under the Team Jucao BJJ Association, which helps operate about half-a-dozen independently-owned locations in New York and New Jersey.
Every year, students from each gym are invited to compete in an all-schools Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament, which Smith is excited to see Long Island City kids participate in.
Smith said that children who have trained under him in the past have developed great confidence and discipline through learning BJJ, particularly those who previously felt insecure about being able to participate in physically-demanding sports or activities.
“I’ve taught kids who never considered themselves athletic or ‘good at sports’ until they started taking Brazlian Jiu Jitsu lessons,” he said. “After graduating into different belt levels, I saw those same kids grow into confident, young adults, whose views of themselves and the world around them changed for the better.”
The Team Jucao BJJ LIC gym measures 1,300 square feet, and is conveniently located within walking distance from nearby 7, E and M line subway stations.