Brazilian jiu-jitsu and bullyproofing. The two go together “like peas and carrots,” to borrow a phrase from Forrest Gump. All around the world, Brazilian jiu-jitsu gyms are helping children feel safe and confident by teaching them how to stand up to bullies.
But it’s not only gyms that are helping children learn to fight bullying through Brazil’s “soft way.”
Yvonne Sifuentes is an elementary school teacher and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in Texas, and she’s writing a book that shows kids how they can use jiu-jitsu to combat bullying.
Yvonne’s book, “The Shih-Tzu Who Knew Jiu-Jitsu” tells the story of a little shih-tzu who is pressured into a joining a gang of dogs at a park. He is told that if he doesn’t join, he will not be allowed to come to the park.
The poor little dog neither wants to cave to peer pressure nor stop going to the park, but it seems like those are the only two choices open for him…
…that is, until he meets a poodle who teaches him jiu-jitsu.
“It teaches kids to first avoid [a bully] if you can or defend yourself,” Yvonne told the Jiu-Jitsu Times via a Facebook private message.
So, what prompted the elementary school teacher to come up with a children’s book about bullying and Brazilian jiu-jitsu?
This is the pack leader. His name is Weiler and he won't take no for an answer.Posted by The Shih Tzu Who Knew Jiu-Jitsu on Friday, December 8, 2017
“The idea to start a children’s book came a few months after I started training as a white belt,” Yvonne told us. “I loved the bullyproof program they have for the kids and as a teacher I started to think of a book for kids that can help them understand this martial art. It started off pretty rough with the first draft, and I wasn’t sure where I was going with it.
I then reached out to a friend that is an author and illustrator, Ros Hill, who helped me with this journey. He was a major part in helping me transform this book to a fun but also a learning lesson for kids.”
Yvonne has been taking jiu-jitsu for about a year, and not only does she have her combatives belt, she is working towards her blue belt.
One interesting aspect of the “Shih-Tzu Who Knew Jiu-Jitsu” is that the poodle who teaches is a female. Though there are some notable female instructors — e.g., Hannette Staack and Leticia Ribeiro (who trains ADCC Champion Beatriz “Bia” Mesquita) — Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructors are still overwhelmingly male.
Yvonne, however, said she wasn’t trying to challenge any gender stereotypes in her book. Rather, it was more about promoting the famous Gracie concept that “jiu-jitsu is for everyone.”
Its not challenging gender stereotypes. More so anyone can do jiu jitsu. The shih tzu is small and then you have the female poodle. So yes the shih tzu is a boy.
I’m hoping to send the message that anyone can learn and teach jiu-jitsu regardless of what you are. Obviously using animal characters to portray.