Lawrence “L.G.” Almeda knew he wanted his kids to learn two important skills: “How to swim and learn how to defend themselves,” he says. What he didn’t know is that this simple goal would end up changing his life.
Almeda – a Canton father of four and a partner at his law firm in Ann Arbor – is the new owner of the Plymouth Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy. He bought the gym after years of watching his kids take lessons and eventually becoming a student and competitor himself.
“We just grew to love it,” Almeda says. “It’s a human chess match. It’s based on strategy and leverage and not necessarily brute strength.”
The Almeda rule
Almeda discovered the sport while researching martial arts classes for his kids, three boys and a girl now 7-14. They’ve indeed learned to swim and self-defend.
“I think it’s just a requirement to be able to save yourself if you’re on a boat and it tips over and you’re in water – and, likewise, at the very minimum be able to get away from a bad situation and run.”
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is ideal for kids because it focuses on grappling and gaining the dominant position no matter your size or strength. And there’s no striking.
“It’s very beginner friendly,” Almeda says. “It’s a friendly place. There’s no showboating and there’s no ego.” Kids know other students are their teammates.
Kids gain self-confidence and learn stress management, strategy and teamwork, Almeda says. And these skills can be crucial for bullying situations – especially when kids end up on the ground, which is common during confrontations.
“It allows the child to have the confidence to adequately defend themselves and diffuse the bully,” he says.
While life is busy juggling two jobs and parenting four kids, Almeda says the sport has brought his family closer – and his older kids are happy to help at the gym. His house even features a 12-by-17-foot Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training room.
“You can’t miss it if you walk into our front door,” Almeda laughs. “If someone had no idea what Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was they’d say, ‘You did what to your piano room?'” But family and friends know the drill. “They understand it’s our passion.”
Plymouth Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy
- Address: 584 W. Ann Arbor Trail, Plymouth
- Phone: 734-709-8454
- Offerings: For kids ages 7-12 (case-by-case basis for under 7), teens and adults; plus private lessons and women-only classes
- Cost: $75/month kids program, four classes/week (discount for siblings)