There are few things I am as passionate about as jiu-jitsu and giving back to its community. So, naturally, when the opportunity presented itself to shine more light on a previous article, “Pay It Forward,” I jumped right in.
Below are ten BJJ related non-profit organizations working towards improving others’ lives.
1-We Defy Foundation
The We Defy Foundation provides combat veterans coping with military-connected disabilities a long-term means to overcome their challenges through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and fitness training. The We Defy Team is comprised of veterans who are also jiujiteros. They aid disabled veterans to heal through jiu-jitsu, and unless you have been training alone under a rock, you have seen or heard of this charity. You can help by donating, participating in their multiple events, or simply shopping for their gear. As a bonus, I recommend you do what I did and add them as your charity on AmazonSmile.
2-Tap Cancer Out
Tap Cancer Out is a jiu-jitsu based 501(c)(3) nonprofit raising awareness and funds for cancer-fighting organizations on behalf of the grappling community. Since its formation in 2011, they have hosted dozens of tournaments and have donated more than $2,250,000 to different beneficiaries. Get involved today by directly contributing to them, purchasing their merchandise, or participating in their tournaments.
Mission 22 supports the veteran community in three ways: veteran treatment programs, memorials, and community social impact. The organization serves combat veterans, those injured in training who could not deploy, and victims of MST by providing treatment to veterans for relief from Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other issues they face daily. As part of their vast array of programs, they offer sponsorships to veterans for jiu-jitsu lessons.
Mission 22 also organizes events and builds memorials to create social impact and awareness for these issues. You can donate directly to the cause, shop their merchandise booth, become an ambassador, or host one of their events.
Submit the stigma is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and awareness campaign within the jiu-jitsu community that promotes education, discussion, and support for mental illness and those affected. The goal is to make mental health as important as physical health. #Submitthestigma attempts to make mental well-being a priority while also giving participants an open forum to discuss their struggles with mental health. You can help by raising awareness, purchasing their merchandise, and sharing your story.
5- Gis 4 GIs
Gis 4 GIs is an organization created to help active-duty military members, veterans, and first responders cope with the stress of their respective jobs. They send Gis to servicemen and servicewomen to begin and/or continue their martial arts journey. They hope recipients who receive Gis will use martial arts training as a therapy to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and the host of ailments these disorders bring. If you have read any of my previous articles, I don’t have to emphasize how important this cause is.
Adopt A Cop BJJ is a nonprofit, donation-based program and registered 501(c)3 that sponsors active-duty patrolling police officers around the country to train at any Adopt A Cop BJJ affiliated academy. The program pays 100% of the officer’s membership until they reach the rank of Blue Belt. If your gym isn’t already an “Adopt-A-Cop” gym, talk to your coach. Now more than ever, our officers need all the training possible.
7- Blackbelts for Butterflies
Blackbelts for Butterflies is an organization devoted to promoting awareness and acceptance for autism through education and positive impact to create change by supporting grass-roots autism programs across the nation. They raise funds through open mats, seminars, and donations accepted on their website. If you haven’t read the story about the creation of this organization, I highly recommend you read it now in the ABOUT section of their website.
8- Hero Academy Costa Rica
Hero Academy (Dreamlife Alliance) is a nonprofit dedicated to serving the needs of orphans and at-risk children in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Their mission is “to empower the youth in our community through: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, personal development, movement education, language learning, mentorship, and healthy lifestyle choices.”
Since 2016 they have provided over 500 kids with free classes and programs and donated much-needed uniforms and materials. They have also aided in the relief after a major natural disaster in the area. They offer many ways to contribute to the cause and sponsor the program.
9- A New Grip
The Mission of A New Grip is to help sexually exploited individuals and human trafficked survivors take back their lives and find their inner peace again using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a form of therapy and exercise.
As explained on their site, they don’t look to replace therapy with jiu-jitsu. On the contrary, jiu-jitsu becomes another tool to help these girls forge their new beginnings. Through jiu-jitsu, they find control, confidence, and comfort in their bodies. By utilizing Trauma Informed Jiu-Jitsu, A new grip gives all the power to the survivor to practice at their comfort level and make decisions to continue when they are ready.
You can make monetary donations to the program as well as volunteer to help in their upcoming events.
10- Disciple Dojo’s Refugeejitsu
Disciple Dojo is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through their RefugeeJitsu and with the help of Project 658, they help refugee kids through jiu-jitsu. This program is very dear to my heart for many reasons. I know firsthand the impact jiu-jitsu has on building self-esteem and confidence. Moreover, I know how difficult migrating can be. And to top it off, James Michael Smith, the program’s creator, is a dear friend who I hold in high regard and with whom I hope to collaborate soon.
You can become a program sponsor (there are many levels based on the size of your donation) or donate your gently used gear to the students of the program.
I invite you to look at how much you have grown as an individual since starting BJJ, and I implore you to share that passion with someone who can benefit from rolling. To learn more about how to volunteer or help any of these organizations, visit their websites and make sure to follow them on social media. Together we shall rise!