“Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Saves Lives…” It may sound clich?, right? I thought that too…

I mean, how can that be possible? It?s just another sport, another hobby? Until I was a witness myself, ?I saw in front of my very own eyes how Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was for a fact changing the lives of many Costa Rican children, right here in Tamarindo.

This is only one of the many stories I have witnessed? There are much more?

Most of the kids training?Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Tamarindo?at Hero Academy are living in absolute poverty. They are kids who don?t have many chances in life because they have a life restricted by poverty?

But especially restricted by mindset limitations, by thoughts of not being enough or not deserving something better.

Martha Without Uniform… Yet

Her name is Martha, she is 12 years old, she lives in a little house with 8 more people, she loves the beach, she loves to swim and run, she is extremely smart and chess is one of her main hobbies, she won ?The Brasilito Chess Tournament? and now she is competing in San Jose, the big city in Costa Rica.

Martha?s family is extremely poor. The example of life that Martha has been witnessing all her life isn?t uplifting, It?s sad to say it but as a woman in a poor village, Martha was destined to be pregnant really soon and to pray for a good man to come along and stay with her. She didn?t know any more chances, she thought she might not be capable of getting out of that circle because maybe that was just how life is and she didn?t know more options.

When she first started training?BJJ in Tamarindo?at Hero Academy?she looked extremely delicate, she was wearing a little bit of makeup, she was worried about her hair, but most of all she was extremely insecure. Every time she saw a new technique she covered her eyes with her hands and said:

“Wow I would never be able to do that”

?But she kept training, she kept listening to her coaches advice, she kept giving her best effort, attending to every class and showing her persistence, then she realized that she could defeat her coach if she wanted, she realized she wasn?t only pretty but Extremely?STRONG!

After only a few months?

Her attitude changed completely, she was no longer the insecure girl, she exudes confidence now, she is the perfect example of girl-empowerment, she is determined to succeed, no matter where she lives, no matter where she comes from, no matter the example she saw growing up.

Now she knows she is able to do anything that she puts in her mind, she knows she is courageous, determined, vivacious, smart and beautiful and that she is worth and deserves all the great things that she wants to achieve in life.

Her sister once told me: ?All I want for Martha is for her to be with a good man?, when I asked Marta what she wants for herself she answered:

??I am going to be a Black Belt, a successful strong woman capable of anything in life??and that was AMAZING to hear.

She says Brazilian Jiu Jitsu changed her life, in a way of changing her perspective, by discovering new abilities and different opportunities. In her own words:

?? It Opened My Eyes To Show Me That With Persistence And Dedication Everything Is Possible?

Can you imagine that your daughter didn?t have the opportunities she does have? It?s hard. Many of us are lucky we can offer our children the world with open opportunities, and help those who believe they don?t to expand their minds, to believe in themselves, to widen their perspective of future, it is the only way they will get out from that limited, restricted circle of poverty and depression.

Martha got empowered, If it wasn?t for?the Hero Academy?she probably would never know what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is?

It gave her the chance to see the world with new eyes, to explore her abilities and raise her self-esteem.

Now she knows how powerful she is and that there is a lot out there for her to achieve.

Join Us If you want to help more children like Martha