Jiu-Jitsu school teaches kids to stand up to bullies

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By Yadira Sanchez Olson


Olivia Corpuz of Wauconda is a petite 11-year-old who can grapple a grown man to the ground and be gone before he knows what hit to him.


Joining her father Marcelo and two brothers — Marc, 12, and Luke, 8 — Olivia practices martial arts at the Lake County Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School in Mundelein.


With pretzel-like twists of her legs, firm grips and disabling specific joints, Olivia can take down an attacker no matter the size or age difference. The technique also teaches students how to escape an attack from virtually any angle.


It’s made Olivia feel empowered, her mom said.


“I’ve seem her level of self-confidence go up,” Amy Corpuz explained.


The Corpuz family of martial artists learn the craft from Jiu-Jitsu School owner Carlos Archila and his fiancé Patty Thomas of Grayslake, who opened the business in February.


The sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which has its roots in Judo, is relatively new compared to other forms of martial arts. It promotes the concept that a smaller individual can subdue a much bigger opponent with the use of leverage and technique.


At his school, Archila teaches students that the art is to be used as a means of self-defense and not as a form of attack.


That philosophy proved appealing to Amy and Marcelo Corpuz.


Marcelo, who has experience in many forms of martial arts, highlighted the health benefits of a strong, healthy body and a disciplined mind. The parents also noted that their kids would be less likely to be targeted by bullies if they can defend themselves.


“You don’t have to hit to protect yourself,” Thomas said. “You pin the bully down and you diffuse the situation.”


Thomas said she knows first-hand the peace of mind that comes with knowing that she can handle a violent situation.


Her 10-year-old son Ian practices the sport, too. As a woman and a mom, she explained that she’s a big advocate of self-defense in any form.


Although the Jiu-Jitsu school is new to the Lake County community, Archila and Thomas said they hope to build a successful children’s program that teaches 5 to 12 year olds anti-bullying techniques while also building friendships and having fun.


To accomplish those goals, the school teaches in a laid back, family-friendly environment.


Archila added that his teaching of adults and children is only different in that the kids are learning when they think they’re playing. But that doesn’t mean the sport takes it easy on anyone.


“Honestly, for people who have never tried this, the first time they do it they find it challenging because you’re asked to move in ways you’re not use to,” Archila said.


For the Corpuz children, the rewards of taking on those challenges head on are starting to become fruitful.


Last weekend, the three competed in a tournament in Indiana, where Marc placed first and Olivia and Luke took second.


Olivia expressed pride that she was able to defeat boys. For her parents, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a way to keep their children safer.


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