Jiu-jitsu helps Mass. kids deal with cancer, bullying

Two brothers in Massachusetts brought home medals from the New England North American Grappling Association tournament. In itself, that's not noteworthy, until you learn that one of the brothers is a cancer survivor, and the other has dealt with bullying.

“The medals were a great thrill for all of us,” said their mother, Rhonda Callum-King. She said that training in jiu-jitsu and Brazilian wrestling/grappling with Master Doug MacDonald “has made the boys stronger and tougher.”

Callum-King said wrestling is helping both of her boys overcome challenges: Rory with his leukemia, and Connor with bullying.

Rory was diagnosed with cancer when he just 2 years old. A bone marrow transplant from his brother Connor was successful, but Rory still faces health problems that stem from his bout with cancer. Connor faced bullies at school.

But both have found a haven in jiu-jitsu and grappling, and found strength to get through their problems.

Master Doug MacDonald, who has been teaching martial arts in Hudson for 30 years, said he is very pleased with both boys’ performance. “Classes are definitely helping them to build strength, while teaching them self-discipline and perseverance,” he said.

Any fighter will tell you about the importance of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in their fight game. But in focusing on the top flight fighters and only how their jiu-jitsu helps them win, we forget all that jiu-jitsu teaches the children who are learning it every day.

Thanks to the Underground

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