"We came up with the idea about a year ago. We've had kids coming to our academy that have been tormented by bullies. They've been afraid to go to school. Some have even been suicidal. Training them (in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) and working with them helped build their confidence and it has basically inspired us to want to do something on a much larger scale. The plan is to reach out to these kids and take them under our wings. We want to teach them how to defend themselves, but more importantly, we want to build up their confidence and give them the motivation to want to go to school. Bullying is one of the top factors behind suicide in young kids. They don't need to be the victims anymore. We want to find those who are on the borderline and bring them back. Let's show them that there is hope and that they have a bright future. If this happens, it's going to be another shot in the arm for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It was my grandfather Helio's dream to empower the weak and my family would love nothing more than to continue to make that a reality. We've achieved the mount so far with this contest. Now let's go for the submission."
Rener Gracie wants to use jiu-jitsu to help kids stand up to bullies while also learning self-defense and how to improve their self-esteem. Gracie has reached out to the Oprah Channel to pitch his idea for a reality show that would bring kids and teens in need to his Gracie Academy in Torrance, California, for training. You can watch his video audition and vote for him at Oprah.com by clicking here. While no one will ever mistake MTV's "Bully Beatdown" as a deterrent to bullying, can a televised jiu-jitsu camp help restore confidence and self esteem to kids in need? And how does his program differ from a traditional martial arts school that tries to instill the same values? Thoughts?