Lucas Lepri Philippines introduces BJJ to kids from Mano Amiga Academy

The first affiliate of Brazilian Black Belt and IBJJF Hall of Famer Lucas Lepri in Southeast Asia leverages the sport as a means to get kids off the streets and on to new, brighter opportunities

In a survey released by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) last 2022, it was revealed that there are over 5.6 million Filipino families living in poverty. This means that two out of five Filipinos belong in underprivileged communities. Unemployment, underemployment, and lack of opportunities are just some of the factors that can contribute to this statistic. Lucas Lepri Philippines (LLP) has partnered with Mano Amiga Academy to explore how they can help underprivileged youth by opening them to new opportunities and experiences that will not just enrich them physically and mentally, but also put them on the right track towards a viable, fulfilling career path through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

For Lucas Lepri Philippines, Mano Amiga Academy is the perfect collaborator for this endeavor as the academy’s vision aligns with LLP’s in empowering communities and individuals by equipping them with the tools and opportunities they currently don’t have access to in order to better their lifestyles. The partnership program began in October 2022 where Mano Amiga students were invited to join Lucas Lepri Philippines’ Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes for free. 

When asked how they came up with the idea to banner Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the kids of Mano Amiga, Coach Philip Alegre explains that it boils down to the beauty and discipline of the sport. 

“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu operates on the idea of teaching seemingly small, weaker individuals to defend themselves from larger, ‘stronger’ opponents. More than that, it teaches individuals how to be good, honest people – not just in terms of sportsmanship but also in how they hold themselves up in times of adversity, how confident they are of themselves, and how to look after other people”, Coach Philip explains. “We believe that BJJ is meant for everyone which is why our partnership with Mano Amiga Academy is one of our favorites because we’re basically teaching these kids from underprivileged communities to stand up, be brave, and defy the odds through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.”

Even more interesting about this program is that even at a young age, the kids are being trained to become future BJJ athletes which lends a great opportunity for them to become practicing professionals, or even BJJ masters, in the future.

“We noticed that the kids are now more determined and eager. Jiu-jitsu is a very complex sport to teach and especially learn, but the fact that some of these kids keep coming back to train and ask questions really shows us that the essence of the sport is breaking through to them. Thus, making my job as a coach worthwhile”, Coach Shanta Carlos adds.

Testimonials from parents, teachers, and even the Mano Amiga kids themselves have inspired Lucas Lepri Philippines to keep doing what they set out to do – making Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu accessible to all walks of life. 

The partnership with Mano Amiga Academy is just the first step for Lucas Lepri Philippines. They are planning on building more partnerships and programs much like this one where more schools and communities can gain free or affordable access to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu not just in Metro Manila but throughout the country. 

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