20/04/2019 – Jefferson Costa is  a brown belt in jiu jitsu and coaches at the Fight for Peace Rio Academy. He first got to know the organisation in 2009 through boxing, but he didn’t really take to the discipline that much. It was in jiu jitsu that he found his true passion.

The 23 year old started doing jiu jitsu at Fight for Peace when the project where he had previously practiced the martial art closed. It was at the Rio Academy that he noticed a change within himself: “My coach Anderson Romalho was a massive influence, he was like a father to me. I came to training and I started getting somewhere. I became even more keen and inside of me something started growing, something that said, ‘I really want this’. Through sport I found a dream. I wanted to be like my coach, leading, being there at the front showing my jiu jitsu, showing what I’ve learnt.”

At Fight for Peace he also got to know another coach called Luciana, and this changed his opinion of women and martial arts: “She’s an example to me right to this day. People doubted her for being a woman, but she was an awesome martial artist and coach. She completely changed my mind. She made me think my dreams could really come true and I started thinking ahead about how I was going to make up for what they’d done for me in the past. I went to speak to her and I found out that I could – and wanted to – start taking classes.”

Jefferson really values the support he has gained at Fight for Peace: “Being born here in Maré can be tough. We see a lot of friends losing their way – people who don’t get the same chances as I did of having someone to look up to, someone who’s footsteps to walk in. Heroes here are often the guys that ride the best motorbike. But here I’ve ended up getting to know other heroes, guys that have trained me up as an instructor, guys that were my role models. Everything that I’ve learnt here has been really important for me. Before I never had a pathway to follow but today my mum is really proud of me and I’m really happy about this.”

Beyond training and coaching at Fight for Peace, Jefferson has started his own project, looking to pass on everything he has learnt. He founded Recomeçar (Restart), where he teaches jiu jitsu to children and young people, and this project recently took part in a Fight for Peace training programme aimed at sharing the Five Pillars methodology with like minded organisations.

“I want to become a teacher, but a teacher like the ones that I found here. It’s not just about the teacher coming here and teaching technique and movement. You need to pass on a good message, that’s what has helped me a lot here. The combination of the jiu jitsu classes with personal development has changed my mind and my way of thinking in a big way. I want to do the same with my project and with my life. When you change someone’s life, you’re also changing other lives in turn. I want to pass on a positive message to people, that’s what I’ve learnt here.”