A group of 16 Nantucket kids ages 5-16 traveled to Boston earlier this month to partake in the Professional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation’s Boston Fall Open, and the Werdum Nantucket Academy placed second of 20 teams.
“We won a bunch of medals and the kids did just so well,” their instructor, Andre Dobrochinski, said. “One of our girls, Ewan Montes, got three different medals – bronze, silver, and a gold. She fought in her category, a category above her, and then she did a super fight. She was one of the high-level competitors for us. She is 13 years old and one of the most dedicated girls we have here. She never skips class. She is always into it. It was a great surprise for us to see her perform that way.”
Dobrochinski said that while these young islanders don’t realize it, they are making history on Nantucket.
“Nantucket has never had such a group of kids doing martial arts and competing with the mainland on this level,” he said. “We are very, very fortunate to have these kids and I am proud of what they’re doing.”
“The most impressive thing about these kids is their capacity of learning,” Dobrochinski added. “They have brains ready to learn. They are so thirsty to take in as much information as they can and use it. I have had a lot of visitors from Brazil and all over this country and they say, ‘your kids are different.’”
The kids train in about 10-12 sessions per week. Classes are about one hour to an hour and 15 minutes. The school has a partnership with Strong Wings and the New School – who Dobrochinski said work with him to do an after-school program.
“A lot of kids go to the after-school program and after they go there, they come back here for extra classes,” he said. “We do four classes per week here and about eight classes per week (at Strong Wings). This partnership is key to this school and the survival of our training. We are also so lucky for the Nantucket Cycling and Fitness to open their doors and allow me to teach in their space. We are very lucky. We are very thankful. We are building a new face of Nantucket.”
Dobrochinski began training in Jiu Jitsu about seven years ago and has been back on island for about one and a half years. He says he has no plans of leaving anytime soon and hopes to see the Werdum School continue to grow.
“I don’t treat this as work. This is a passion,” he said. “Of course, there is the finance side of it but if don’t have the finances I would go find another job to make money and then do this on the side.”