American Top Team in Weston helps kids gain confidence, work out through Brazilian jiu-jitsu

WESTON, FLA. (WSVN) - - One particular martial arts studio used the downtime brought on by the pandemic to help build kids’ self-esteem.

American Top Team in Weston has grabbed the attention of kids and their parents as an outlet during these unusual times.

“I like to train everyday,” said one American Top Team student.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen a huge problem going on because kids need the discipline, they need to make sure they have authority in school and in other areas to help them,” said American Top Team owner Rodrigo Baga-Ramos. “For us, it’s been great because we’ve been able to expose Brazilian jiu-jitsu.”

In addition to Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s discipline, parents are finding other helpful benefits the sport brings to their child’s development.

“Self-defense, mental health, physical health, just physical fitness, everything,” said parent Victoria Messina.

“When he started this, he didn’t have like the most courage,” said parent Nick Degerinis. “Then doing this jiu-jitsu, he’s built up a lot of self-confidence. He’s better in school. He’s better on the soccer team.”

“We’ve seen tons of kids who come in here with their shoulders bent and their eyes down to the ground and within just a few weeks of our program they are shoulders back, they’re communicating with other kids, they’re feeling good about themselves,” said American Top Team owner Priscilla Costa. “That’s important.”

What’s even more important to the kids participating is that they’re able to interact with others while getting a sense of fearlessness at a young age.

“When people say, ‘Oh, you can’t do something,’ I don’t care what people say. I just care that I’m good,” said student Anais.

“Say you’re on the street and somebody bigger comes behind you and, I don’t know, punches you in the face, what’re you going to do if you don’t know Brazilian jiu-jitsu?” said student Sam Messina. “You’re basically hopeless.”

For any would-be bad guys out there, Messina in a non-violent voice has a message for you.

“For everyone else that’s watching: don’t mess with me!” said Messina. “You better not touch my sister!”

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