One of the greatest things about jiu-jitsu is how it brings people together. No matter where you’re from, what you look like, or what you’ve experienced in the past, this is a martial art that shows us that deep down, we’re all human beings who can be put to sleep with a well-executed triangle choke.
Perhaps it’s this sense of togetherness that motivates the BJJ community to come together when others are in need. We’ve seen firsthand the amazing things that jiu-jitsu practitioners have done for things like suicide awareness and children’s therapy, and now, we’re being called upon again to make a difference for disaster relief all across the globe.
Reach Out WorldWide (ROWW) is a non-profit organization founded by the late actor Paul Walker, who was also a BJJ brown belt and awarded his black belt posthumously. Its goal is to provide aid to people affected by natural disasters, which it achieves through a network of first responders who volunteer their time and skills. Since its inception just a few years ago, ROWW has helped recovery efforts in everything from tornadoes in the United States to tsunamis and typhoons in places as far as Indonesia and the Philippines.
Jiujiteira and wrestler Chantelle Martin has always admired Paul Walker for the way he cared about others. “Whatever he did, he had his heart in it and wanted others to be involved for the right reasons,” she says. Knowing that Walker was also an accomplished martial artist, she decided to start a grappling event called “Roll for ROWW” to help raise money for the organization.
Martin’s reasons for wanting to start a fundraiser for ROWW go beyond carrying on her favorite actor’s legacy.
One of the biggest reasons this organization is important to me is because they remain small and keep a low overhead. This way, the funds go where they truly need to go, and they can quickly mobilize and get boots on the ground as soon as possible.
Martin adds that for some deployments, the ROWW volunteers were the first sign of help that survivors had seen since they were struck by disaster.
Since Walker himself was such an accomplished and enthusiastic jiu-jitsu practitioner, Martin believes that Roll for ROWW is a great way to not only honor and remember a BJJ brother even years after his death, but also to help make the world a better place. “Nobody is immune to mother nature,” she says. “A natural disaster can happen to anyone at any time.” Organizations like ROWW are crucial to helping survivors get back on their feet and start rebuilding the places they call home.
If you want to participate in Roll for ROWW, it’s easy: just talk to your coach and teammates about hosting an open mat or seminar dedicated to the cause on Saturday, December 3. Then, ensure that all mat fees or donations go towards ROWW. No donation is too small, and they add up quickly — $25 can provide medical supplies for one patient, and $50 can provide 1,000,000 gallons of clean water. Imagine what a difference your academy could make if everyone donated just five or ten dollars.
Thanks to Martin, Can Sönmez of GrappleThon (who was also instrumental in making Roll For Nichole such a huge success), and the ROWW fundraising staff, we have high hopes that the jiu-jitsu community will be able to help ROWW help others around the world. We’re part of a community that has the ability to change the world by choking each other out. Let’s take advantage of that.
Make sure to follow Roll for ROWW on Facebook and invite everyone you know to the event page!