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Children learn self-defense during summer program

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ST. IGNATIUS – Students of all ages are still rolling at the Jiu-Jitsu Cross Collar Academy after it opened three years ago in a studio in town on First Avenue. 

The martial arts academy is open all year long, but on Tuesday, the children’s summer program came to an end, and five kids were given certificates for their accomplishments. The children learned several wrestling style moves along with some breakaway techniques to increase confidence and coordination. 

“We also have healthy role models for the kids, male and female,” said instructor Justin Dumontier. “This is a safe place for kids to come and learn self-defense and have a good time.”  

Isaiah Phoenix, 7, said he was at Flathead Lake playing around when a friend decided to have a little fun and push him into the water. Isaiah deflected the push using a technique he had learned at the academy. He said he was impressed with how well the move worked. He was so happy he jumped in the lake with his buddy.

The children received a certificate for completing the summer-long program and individual awards. Isaiah received an award for having the highest energy level in class. Janie Mitchell, 6, was given the award for being the most consistent. Mason Parks, 9, asked the best questions. Jessa Rae Ridgley, 11, was the most focused, and Trevon Petticrew, 12, received an award for being the hardest working student.

Dumontier explained that Jiu-Jitsu is a form of martial arts that has been around for hundreds of years. It was created in Japan and brought to Brazil in the 1900s. Dumontier focuses on sport Jiu-Jitsu where competitors engage in grappling matches.

Rose Bear Don’t Walk, one of the coaches, said the sport offers children a rewarding challenge. “It’s a team sport but also very individual,” she said. “Everyone works individually but with each other to get the moves down.” 

Bear Don’t Walk was interested in other forms of martial arts, but when she found Jiu-Jitsu a few years ago, she fell in love with it. She said at 5 feet, 4 inches tall being able to grapple bigger people, including men, makes her feel powerful, and it’s a sport people at any size can enjoy.

After the children received awards, two adults “rolled” for an hour against different opponents to prove they had the skills to receive the next belt worn on their kimonos. Jarvis Ashley and Joshua Brown, both in their 40s, said they miss the years when they excelled at the sport of wrestling in high school, so they decided to try Jiu-Jitsu. 

Ashley said he was also looking for a way to get in shape besides weight lifting and running on the treadmill. Brown said the sport is a “great way to de-stress.” After an hour, it was determined that the two grapplers had enough skills to get their blue belts. 

It takes years to advance in the sport, according to Dumontier. It can take more than 20 years to advance to the final black belt level. 

Dumontier said he is planning more children’s programs for the fall season. He also invites people to come into the academy and learn about the sport. More information is on the website at 


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