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United Methodist Teaches Martial Arts to Refugees

James-Michael Smith is a United Methodist pastor and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He founded Disciple Dojo and RefugeeJitsu, a martial arts ministry that builds up children physically and spiritually.

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(Charlotte, North Carolina)

James-Michael Smith, RefugeeJitsu: "So, jiu-jitsu literally means, 'The Gentle Art' but jiu-jitsu in particular is a martial art that you can learn to fully defend yourself. You can win a fight, if you ever had to, without throwing a single punch."

Malachi, RefugeeJitsu: "So, this overcomes my fear and that's really good so that's why I come."

"I'm JM Smith, a Wesleyan United Methodist Christian and I knew that somehow we have to build bridges however we can in our community. And I felt like, you can't fix the problem but you can do something where you are. If everybody did that, then the problems would be fixed.

I'm a local artist and a minister so I have zero money but I can teach and I can do this sport that I'm passionate about, this art, Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Is there a need for an afterschool program of some type for the kids that's martial arts, anti-bullying and women's self-defense, all those kind of things?

I did a self-defense seminar. It was December of 2015, and it's just snowballed from there and we've been going since then. So we have about 30 kids now from all over the world, literally."

Fnu, RefugeeJitsu: "I get to train and we get to play games at the end of the day and we have snack and it's fun."

Shahab, RefugeeJitsu: "It just, like makes me come back to learn new techniques so I can be safe and I like coming here with my friends, enjoying the day."

JM Smith: "The reason that I started this program was to build the bridges culturally and because I am a Christian, I want to give you, offer you, help you with zero strings attached. I'm doing this because I am a follower of Jesus and I believe it's what he would do. We're gonna pour into these kids and their families and hopefully their families will develop genuine relationships because I know I would want that if I suddenly found myself in another part of the world with a whole different language and a whole different religious cultural tradition. So, that's what we try to do through Disciple Dojo and through RefugeeJitsu.

RefugeeJitsu meets once a week in Charlotte, North Carolina. You can donate to the program, volunteer, or learn more about RefugeeJitsu

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Joe Iovino.

This video was first posted on November 3, 2017.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

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