The mascot for Highland High School, the first school in the United States to offer school credit for attending BJJ class.
Back in late February we had a very interesting episode of The FightWorks Podcast in which we covered a milestone in Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s growth in the United States: the first public school to officially endorse BJJ as satisfying state-mandated physical education requirements. In episode 154 we spoke with Esaul Viramontes, the high school teacher who instructs BJJ at Highland High School, about one hour north of Los Angeles.
While a single school in all of the United States giving course credit to students for Brazilian jiu-jitsu is not enough to declare victory in gaining mainstream popularity for the martial art and sport that we love, it is symbolically a very important step. The high school’s institutional acceptance of BJJ has “cracked the seal”, and Mr. Viramontes’ efforts have laid the groundwork for other high schools to initiate similar programs. Mr. Viramontes reports that since our show, he has been contacted by several other teachers who are eager to follow Highland High School’s lead and begin their own formal jiu-jitsu classes, a process we could not be more excited about.
Further and equally satisfying is word from Mr. Viramontes that we received by email this week of a generous contribution to Highland High School’s own jiu-jitsu program:
…and it just so happened that Professor Marco Joca of Gracie-Barra America heard my dilemma [on the FightWorks Podcast] about students not having the financial resources to train in jiu-jitsu gis. And so it happened that Professor Marco Joca asked Professor Marcio Feitosa, with the permission of Master Carlos Gracie Jr., if his organization could donate 20 gis to the students of Highland High School’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Club.
…This donation clearly demonstrates the significant efforts of Gracie-Barra America to support local communities, public education, and the promotion of Brazilian jiu-jitsu among a diverse population; in a time of immense national and local financial hardship, this organization has provided an invaluable form of support to some of those students of jiu-jitsu who most need it.
The generosity of Gracie Barra is very commendable and it is rewarding to hear that more kids who are interested in jiu-jitsu will now have the opportunity to learn it using the gi.
Among the many jiu-jitsu tournaments on the way in the coming months, Highland High School is organizing its own competition called the Antelope Valley Open on April 18th. Who knows, maybe one of Highland High School’s students will be wearing one of the new gis when they receive a medal on the podium that day!