Karen Santamaria’s son Alfredo was getting picked on for his speech issues due to his hearing problems, so she enrolled him at Kingdom Jiu-Jitsu to help build his confidence and learn how to defend himself.
That was seven years ago. Jiu-Jitsu has become part of Alfredo’s life, and Karen considers her family part of Kingdom’s family culture.
“It has changed my child completely,” Karen says. “Alfredo was such an introvert. He’s still shy, but it has built so much character and responsibility within him. Now he’s always willing to help kids that are under his rank. I think that built him up so well, so much into his character.”
“It has changed my child completely.”
Karen credits the coaches at Kingdom with helping build confidence in the kids and spending time to know them personally. “I love the way they talk to them and how they treat them. They have high expectations of their behavior and what they’re supposed to do. I feel like it carries on to home and school.”
Alfredo is now 12 years old and recently moved into the adults advanced class. He’s competed at jiu-jitsu tournaments, and Karen loves sitting with other Kingdom parents to cheer on the kids. “I’ve made friends with the parents of the kids because we've been there for a long time,” she says. We’ll all sit together. It’s like we’re all one team, so every time a kid goes up to the mat, everybody’s cheering for that one Kingdom kid.”
Karen’s 9-year-old daughter Alany is in the Kids Bully Defense Program and has already learned how to stand up for herself using her words—what Kingdom refers to a “verbal jiu-jitsu.” Alany says she loves that jiu-jitsu keeps her healthy, and she’s made a lot of friends.
“I didn't realize that you’re not used to saying ‘no’ or ‘leave me alone’ until you actually say it out loud,” Karen says. “At least I know that my child can say no to something that she’s uncomfortable with.”
“I love the way they treat my children. I love that they pray for the kids.”
The family plans to stay at Kingdom and watch the kids grow in their jiu-jitsu skills, confidence and self-defense. The owners, Eddie and Cristina Saenz, and the experienced coaches are what Karen loves best about the Kingdom Jiu-Jitsu culture.
“I think the reason why I stay with them for so long is because, as a parent, I love the way they treat my children,” she says. “I love that they pray for the kids. They’re not telling anybody to go to their church or to become Christians. They just pray for the kids to be OK and to have fun during practice. And I love that.”