From Brother John Glendening, a few years ago.
UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro this weekend will rightly include homage to the iconic Gracie family, creators of Brazilian jiu-jitsu nearly 100 years ago, creators of the Ultimate Fighting Championship nearly 20 years ago, creators of legendary family fighting figures and jiu-jitsu instructors that span the globe.
But the Gracies’ most positive impact might be felt at a middle school in a Denver suburb where a seventh grader is unafraid of bullies for the first time since he can remember.
Martin Hendricks, 12, spent a week this summer at the Gracie Academy in Torrance, Calif., in an intensive program designed to make him “Bullyproof.” He learned as many jiu-jitsu self-defense techniques as a kid can absorb in five days, he memorized a blueprint for dealing with a bully fairly and squarely, and he gained self-confidence. The first week of school he put the lessons into practice.
“I’m still a little nervous but it all went well,” Hendricks said quietly in a phone call to Rener Gracie, his personal instructor at the academy. “He’ll never bother me again. Let me tell you about it.”