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Rollin' for a cause at Stratford Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Local dojo lives up to its motto 'deeds not words'

Since its development in 1925, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, as a martial art and as a combat sport, has become one of the most popular means of self-defence in the world. The focus is on holds and submissions to defeat potentially stronger or larger opponents. 

Stratford Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy has been promoting an inclusive environment in Stratford for over 10 years. No matter the background, physical condition or physical disability, the instructors cultivate a welcoming ego-free dojo that empowers Stratford adults and youth. 

The motto here is 'facta non verba', which means, Deeds Not Words. And so, inclusivity, is not merely a buzz word, it’s an active pursuit to make sure that everyone who enters the dojo feels welcome, and develops the self-confidence and fitness to defend themselves.

Coach Jax Balfour says that, “BJJ is a unique and wonderful sport and martial art that brings together all different walks of life. It’s one of the most inclusive sports, through which we have been able to create and foster a wonderful, supportive community.”

Recently, Stratford Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy hosted the annual epilepsy fundraiser. A One Hundred-Minute Roll ‘a’ Thon served to support the One in One Hundred Campaign in which funds are raised toward seizure first aid kits and awareness of how to treat epilepsy. One in one hundred people live with epilepsy, including two members of Stratford Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy.

And so, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, 42 participants rolled on the mats and grappled for a good cause. Through each round of sparring, participants had fun showing their mettle. Every 10 minutes, for 100, each participant would earn a ballot toward a prize. Every $10 donated earned another ballot toward a prize. Some lasted four rounds, but most went the distance for the full 10.

“Together, our members raised over $3,500 for Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario in honour of two of our students living with epilepsy,” shares Balfour.

The prize draw included donations from local Stratford businesses. A candy apple red Le Creuset kettle from Bradshaw’s, as well as prizes from Small Mart, Mercer Hall and Livery Yard. 

As a curious observer, it looks like so much fun, and yet, I have to ask myself, can I still bend that way? At present, probably not, but head instructor, Ryan O'Shea, makes one thing clear, and all his students embody this same ethic, that no matter what your condition, you can participate in this practice and in the team, community and family spirit that is inclusive for everyone. 
With the success of the One Hundred-Minute Roll ‘a’ Thon, no doubt there will be more fun events on the horizon to keep on rollin’ for a good cause.