Kevin Wong didn’t want his kids to be bullied like he was growing up. So, he put his son Silas in karate, but wasn’t happy with what and how Silas was learning.
“It was a lot of choreography, and there was this mindset in the dojo that if you use the karate, even for self-defense, then you might not be welcomed back into the dojo,” Kevin says.
Then, Kevin and his family moved to Texas and Kevin began hearing a lot about Brazilian jiu-jitsu. That’s when he found Kingdom Jiu-Jitsu and the Kids Bully Defense Program. He researched the academy and loved what he saw.
“I was really impressed by this anti-bullying program because they teach kids to use their words first to de-escalate.”
“I was really impressed by this anti-bullying program because they teach kids to use their words first to de-escalate,” he says. “If that doesn't work, then deploy the skills. I was watching how they actually stress-test the kids to show a technique—not just to be done in abstraction or conceptual phase where you're just practicing and just hitting air. Here, you're actually going to grapple and we’re going to make sure you have the muscle memory. I thought, wow this is really impressive.”
So, he enrolled Silas in the program, and then his daughter Annie not long after. Kevin was immediately impressed with the Kids Bully Defense coaches.
“I was just blown away by the skill of the instructors to cater themselves to the individual personalities,” he says.
Silas is extroverted, and a bit of a class clown, according to his dad. The coaches at Kingdom channel that energy into learning. Annie is shy, and coaches are more careful how to cultivate her comfort and confidence.
“Now, she’s just all in love with jiu-jitsu. She would go every day if she could,” he says.
Annie, who’s 6, has already used the “verbal jiu-jitsu” skills she’s learned to stand up for herself. An older and bigger kid was teasing her, and Kevin reminded her to use her words the way she was taught in the Bully Defense Program.
“Jiu-jitsu is not just this sport. It’s not practice or drama,” Kevin says. “In real life you can take those skills, so she’s found a better sense of self.”
For Silas, he’s showing improved responsibility and is learning how to take on challenges. “He’s gaining competencies—I see this emerging sense of problem-solving,” Kevin says of Silas.
"There's a lot of heart there. There's a lot of wisdom on how to cultivate the kids."
Kevin’s favorite aspect of Kingdom Jiu-Jitsu is the welcoming culture of community, from the owners to the coaches and even the other parents. “I think Eddie and Cristina have worked really hard at building community and making the kids feel safe, but at the same time challenging the kids,” he says.
“There's an ethical quality about going to Kingdom that is very tangible. You can feel it, but you can't quite give a name to it. There's a lot of heart there. There's a lot of wisdom on how to cultivate the kids. They are so wise in bringing the best out of the children, not just my kids, but the other kids there, too.”