Martial arts program kicks in life lessons for kids

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Fighting wasn't always a passion for Brazilian Martial arts hero Elton Hoshihara-Cruz. In fact, soccer was his sport growing up.

"I started jiu-jitsu when I was 19," he says. "After 3 months training, I got my first competition down and I got 2nd place. Somehow, I thought to myself that I might be really good at this if I put more time in."

So after competing, Hoshihara-Cruz moved to the U.S. with a mission: pass down the lessons he was taught to the younger generation of fighters. Not just how to punch and kick correctly, but also teaching how to prevent bullying, the art of self defense, self confidence, and leadership- lessons that extend far from the martial arts community.

"I was actually a pastry chef of all things, a completely different lifestyle change," says Tara Rocuant, a 2nd year student. "Really what jiu-jitsu has given me is a sense of accomplishment, confidence."

The grandmother of a student, Pat Marlow, agrees.

"When he started, he was very shy. He couldn't look you in the face, didn't really talk to anybody," she claims. "Now, he's 100 percent wide open, complete self confidence, self-esteem, and happy. I love it."

Ivanel Olinel is also from Brazil, and a champion. He says he's grateful to teach the kids.

"They're like little seeds, and it's great to see the seeds grow," he says. "These kids are the future of the sport. They make me happy because I learn something new every day."

And it's not just about the kids.

"I've seen families change," said Hoshihara-Cruz. "Wives come in and say their husbands are better fathers, a better husband so that actually means a lot. That's how we get paid."

For ways to sign up for Checkmat Myrtle Beach, click here.

Copyright 2018 WMBF News. All rights reserved.