It’s true! One innovative charter school is paving the way for what is expected to become a new common curriculum. Jiu-Jitsu Times talks with parents on both sides of the controversial program, as well the coach who is blazing the trail. Could this finally be the answer to school violence?
BASIS Charter School is preparing to open its doors in Baton Rouge, LA in Fall 2018. The school is nationally renowned for its accelerated programs and hands-on teaching methods. The 2018 school year will offer grades K-4, and the goal is to add a new grade each year. Areas of interest for students include such classes as Engineering, Mandarin, and even Martial Arts.
Martial artists have long argued the benefits of such a program in schools, but many administrators and parents have fought to keep it out of the classroom. The Head of School at BASIS, Robert Ramirez, is taking the first step to debunking the fear surrounding martial arts in schools. He has hired teacher and Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, Chris Crosby, to spearhead the physical education curriculum.
When asked about his goals for the program, Crosby explains, “I hope to introduce Brazilian jiu-jitsu to more kids and people who would otherwise never know its benefits.” The program is going to be focused primarily on self-defense and conflict resolution. As an introduction to the sport, Crosby does not plan to include live rolling during regular class time; however, he is going to establish a jiu-jitsu club where students can learn sport jiu-jitsu and live roll.
So, what are these benefits that Crosby refers to? JJT asked parents whose children are already involved in the sport to see what positive changes they’ve witnessed in their own kids. Erica Winkler has 2 boys who will attend BASIS Charter School, and they have been actively training and competing in BJJ for the last year. She couldn’t be happier with the changes she sees in her boys, saying, “They have both gained so much confidence through jiu-jitsu, and they even get along better now!” Confidence and conflict resolution are definitely two top benefits, but we can also look at reduced aggression, energy being spent in a productive way, and camaraderie between training partners.
On the other side of the debate, some parents are concerned that a contact sport that encourages “fighting” is not suited for the school environment. If a child is already aggressive, should we facilitate this behavior in a class setting? One parent JJT spoke to expressed concern that her son could potentially become more aggressive toward family members if the behavior was encouraged through a martial arts program at school. Injuries are also an important aspect to consider in implementing this program, but Coach Chris Crosby assures us that this program is designed with students’ safety in mind first and foremost.
Personally, I’ve made friends through BJJ that I never would have made under different circumstances. The sport is infamous for drawing people together from all different walks of life, so can’t it be assumed that it could have the same effect on breaking up cliques in schools? The argument can be made that bullying may not even have to be a hot topic anymore. If students from every background are required to train together, surely they will learn more than a few self-defense techniques. I’d be willing to bet they learn respect for each other, their instructors, and their families.
I’m excited to see the growth for the BJJ community, and we’ll finally have hard facts on if this type of program is replicable and beneficial in the school environment. What are your thoughts? Is school the right place for a martial arts program or are we putting children at risk?