A local BJJ instructor in Fortaleza, Brazil has decided to launch free classes for Transgender students in order to teach them how to better defend themselves. It’s pretty well-known by now that Trans individuals are sadly often subject to physical threats or abuse and Milton Leite has decided to take action to help solve the problem. He, along with four other volunteers, has devised a class structure split into two parts. The first is more of a theoretical discussion and examination of the sport, with the second being the actual practical part of the lesson.
Leite explained how the first part of his lesson structure works: “We have this discussion so that we can get closer. We focus on themes, such as prejudices, a whole theoretical part about the trans world and sport.” Then they move on to the part of their Transgender classes that most BJJ students will be more familiar with: “The classes are not adapted, we apply everything from the sport of BJJ.”
Leite also believes that his students are not the only ones benefiting from the arrangement, as he is learning a lot too: “Every training session there is a paradigm break. It is a very intense physical contact. Gradually, everyone is seeing that respect is valid for everyone. There are really cool moments in that exchange. I challenged them in jiu-jitsu and they challenged me in hairstyles!”
Leite doesn’t just want the classes to end here though: “The idea is that they will continue training bjj. I stay there until someone from the group is ready to reproduce the same work that I took there.” The idea of taking BJJ to Transgender people came when Milton learned about another project aimed at helping, Casa Transformar: “We started chatting on Instagram in March. But the pandemic came and we had to stop the negotiations. We returned now in October after a round of donations of equipment. I have been working for 20 years in several projects. People ask me why and I answer whenever I do everything I can to get close to some groups and get people off the street.”
BJJ has a long history of charitable actions and is often offered to police officers free of charge, but Leite is definitely the first person we’ve seen making moves to help the Transgender community instead.