Léo Gonzaga points out the impact of Jiu-Jitsu Tribe in Nova Hartz

Léo Gonzaga and Gustavo Dantas. Photo: Milena Maldonado/VF Comunica

The art of transforming lives through Jiu-Jitsu and revealing champions on and off the mats in social projects is one of the noblest jobs in the world of sport. This is what Professor Leandro “Léo” Gonzaga, leader of the Jiu-Jitsu Tribe Institute, based in the city of Nova Hartz, in Rio Grande do Sul, does. Léo created his own project in September 2014 and has had an impact on the community in both the social and sporting spheres thanks to the consistency of the program.

In an interview with VF Comunica, Léo Gonzaga told us what motivated him to found Jiu-Jitsu Tribe and highlighted the importance of his teacher Gustavo Dantas in the development of the Institute.

“Instituto Jiu-Jitsu Tribe began as Léo’s Social Project. I created the project so that my daughter could make new friends and learn the art I already loved. The biggest challenge, without a doubt, is maintaining it. Due to the lack of incentives from the Nova Hartz town hall, we had to beg for help. Kimonos, mats, rent and snacks for the children all cost money and it was a never-ending struggle for those who had no financial resources. This scenario only began to change after sensei Gustavo Dantas reached out and decided to help us,” said the black belt.

The aim of the Jiu-Jitsu Tribe is to use martial arts as a social and personal development tool for young people who are socially vulnerable. Léo listed the advantages offered to students by the project.

“The children have reaped many benefits, such as improved school performance, better behavior and discipline. The students have access to major competitions in the state and have won new kimonos, all donated by Jiu-Jitsu Tribe. The project is now based in a new training facility and has the material to hold its own championship. The community can only benefit. It’s a real life-changer. I see ten-year-olds who want to become black belts and Jiu-Jitsu teachers. This is priceless. They want to see their parents proud. For me, it’s the realization of a dream,” said the teacher.

The Jiu-Jitsu Tribe Cup was a historic milestone in Nova Hartz. The championship brought the city to a standstill and attracted crowds on July 2 this year. In all, the event brought together around 500 competitors from social projects between the ages of 4 and 17. As well as promoting refined Jiu-Jitsu, the competition distributed 350 free lunches to the athletes in action. The tournament also collected 450 kg of food, which was donated to other social projects in the region. Léo Gonzaga said that the growth of the Jiu-Jitsu Tribe has a direct impact on local commerce and highlighted the support given by the mayor of Sapiranga, Carina Nath, and Councillor Marconi.

“After Jiu-Jitsu Tribe started supporting us, the Jiu-Jitsu Tribe Cup became a strong source of financial resources and can give us autonomy in the future.  We’ve shown that a social project can make a big event by helping many other projects. The city breathes Jiu-Jitsu on the day of the events and the championships also boost the local economy, the hotel chain and the service sector. For our students, it’s a chance to fight in front of their families and show that, as well as being an athlete, they are part of something great,” said Léo.

The Tribe Jiu-Jitsu Cup has already set a date and venue for its next edition. The Open will be held in Sapiranga on December 17th.

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Written by Gabriel Almada

Jornalista aficionado por luta e faixa-roxa de Jiu-Jitsu

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