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Police officer teaches New Haven kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The class focuses on bullying prevention, fitness and mentoring.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The New Haven Police Activity League launched a new youth Jiu-Jitsu program. It's part of an effort to help kids prevent bullying and get some exercise and mentoring from local officers in the process.

“Ever since I’ve been watching the movie "Cobra Kai," I wanted to do karate and I really like it because it’s like teaching you new moves," Skye Langston from New Haven said.

New Haven Police Lt. Elliot Rosa is their instructor. He has been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 12 years. He works with the kids for one hour, three days a week.

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"Super important for the kids because it adds discipline physical fitness and we also go over plenty of bully-proof type scenarios," Rosa said.

“It teaches us self-defense and I get picked on a lot," said Roberto Mathews from New Haven, who is enrolled in the program.

Lt. Rosa is a father, and he sees martial arts as a way to help kids stop getting bullied.

"Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is what we teach and it’s mostly holds--holds, pins--and it’s about controlling someone. It’s not so much about MMA where they’re going to be hitting and striking someone or karate. Those martial arts are good but for what we’re teaching, more of the bully prevention. They may be able to hold down the bully and just talk to them calmly and be able to take care of the situation without actually hurting someone," Rosa said.

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There are 28 kids in the class, split up by age group. The lesson includes warm ups, partner work and mentoring.

"A lot of people fight at my school for some reason," said Hunter Jackson, who is taking the class. "I like it here because, my friends here, I learn how to defend myself and it’s mostly just fun."

New Haven PD Assistant Chief Karl Jacobson said this is the first Police Activity League Jiu-Jitsu in the state.

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“They’re also meeting these officers that are going to be out in their community. They’ll be good to see police in a different light: as their instructors, as their friends, as their mentors," Jacobson said.

The program still has some spots left and organizers hope to keep the program continuing in the future.

For more information, email erosa@newhavenct.gov or click here.

Elisha Machado is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at emachado@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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