Bronx School Counselor Teaches Free Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Classes To Keep Kids Out Of Trouble

Instagram: @fernandoreals

Fernando Restrepo is not your average school counselor. Not only did he teach social studies to youths at Rikers Island — New York City’s main jail complex — but he is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner who now teaches the art for free to help keep his school’s students out of trouble.

“I was working with young people who have been incarcerated,” Restrepo told New York Daily News. “I decided to work with students in social studies to stop them from going to Rikers.”

Fernando now works as a school counselor at a school in Bronxdale, a position he has had since 2015. His job is to help students alleviate stress and stay out of trouble.  The free Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes he teaches at the school have helped him accomplish this goal.

So far, the program is a complete success. Not only does it have two dozen students, but it has the support of the faculty:

The principal loves the paradoxical thing where I spend most of my day teaching kids not to fight and now I teach them how to fight, how to grapple.

Restrepo’s free class gives students from poor communities access to an art they could not otherwise afford, especially considering Brazilian jiu-jitsu tends to be more expensive than other martial arts.

However, getting this jiu-jitsu program off of the ground would have been significantly harder if it weren’t for the generous help of the martial arts community, who donated mats and gis for the students to use.

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu community has repeatedly made headlines for its generous nature. Programs like Fernando Restrepo’s prove that BJJ is indeed for everyone.




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