A big congratulations to Scrambler Fred Greenall who took double gold at the Empire Grappling Event last weekend.
In addition to being a badass, Fred is also the owner and head coach of Positive Options.
Positive Options provides Jiu Jitsu workshops on location to schools in the Wakefield, Leeds and Bradford area. We provide what is known in education as “alternative provision”, which covers lessons or activities for pupils who cannot access the mainstream curriculum for a variety of reasons, such as behaviour issues, school exclusion, teenage pregnancy or illness.
Since these children often miss large parts of typical schooling, the challenge is to provide a high-quality programme that is still educational. For us, this means a 6 – 12 week programme of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for self-defence where students choose their favourite techniques, break them down and create a self-defence DVD. This way, we don’t just teach them self-defence (although we believe this is incredibility important for all young people) but also valuable Information Technology (IT/ICT) skills such as storyboarding, filming and editing to build confidence, develop life skills and increase engagement with education.
It’s all pretty exciting and a dream come true for us since we get to teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to young people and spread the love of our fantastic sport (and yes, play with computers). But it’s not easy: most schools are very sceptical about teaching some of their most challenging students “fighting” and so we end up doing a lot of taster sessions to prove what a powerful tool martial arts is for developing self-control. There are, of course, a lot of misconceptions and barriers to break down (“So…do you train UFC?”) and finding schools that are open minded enough is slow and difficult work. That said, the school’s we’ve worked with think it’s a really cool idea! Here’s what they’ve had to say about us:
“As a school we have never accessed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu before and, even from the initial meeting with Fred, I knew that this would be something from which the children would benefit hugely.
Over the six sessions Positive Options has really shown our children how to control their frustrations, be calm and in control and show discipline in situations that may lead to upset. The DVD project was particularly effective as it gave our students the opportunity to learn some new skills.
Fred really built a rapport and positive relationship with our pupils and as we work with children who have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties this is essential to help them engage and build an interest.
The delivery was accessible to all and the pupils and staff at our school have nothing but good things to say about Fred and the activities/techniques he taught the children.
Finally, the programme has been so successful that we have commissioned Positive Options to continue providing alternative provision this term and next year as the children have been engaged, happy and have enjoyed every minute.”
Mr David Kiss, Assistant Headteacher, Park Primary PRU
“I would urge any schools to experience this fantastic, dynamic and exciting programme. All of our pupils have emotional, social and behavioural difficulties yet all of the pupils involved in the sessions had nothing but good things to say and are excited by the prospect of Positive Options returning!”
Daniel Phipps, Behaviour Manager, Ellar Carr PRU
If you work in schools and want to know more about the benefits for pupils involved in our programme, we’ve outlined some things that will make sense to you (and very few others) below:
– Improved attendance at school. What we offer can be described as ‘personal development’ workshops, focusing on aspects such as self-esteem, confidence, self-management and teamwork, as well as specific elements such as personal health and fitness. This increases students’ engagement with education making them more likely to gain 5 GCSEs. In addition, students may be motivated to continue with their education or training or enter employment post-school.
– Improved behaviour. Students learn and apply new skills, including how to be an adult and how to cope with people.
– Improved confidence with attainment of new skills. Pupils learn to cope with levels of frustration as others are learning new skills alongside them. Strategies for how to cope in difficult or challenging situations are transferable to helping students in preparation for work, the rhythm of work, speaking with respect to others and being resilient in the face of setbacks.
– Improved motivation. Workshops can be run so that pupils must first demonstrate attendance at core curriculum lessons to be eligible. Pupils feel a sense of achievement as they progress from the beginners’ curriculum to more advanced techniques. Fitness is also assessed and awarded through ‘gym awards’.
There are advantages for schools too:
– It’s cost effective. We can run our workshops on site so there are no transport costs or costs for additional staff. This also means that schools do not ‘lose contact’ with their students as sometimes happens when using outside providers.
– It’s complementary, not alternative. For GCSE students, workshops can be run in ‘options’ time, meaning lessons are not missed and students have equal opportunity within the options process.
Finally, we’d just like to thank all the guys at Scramble for their support. This really is a lifestyle choice, though often there’s not much life and very little style. Running Positive Options is only part of the picture; we still work regular jobs part time and run a BJJ academy in the evening. Without the support and encouragement of the BJJ community we would have packed this in a long time ago. So thank you!