S.T.O.P Program at the American Martial Art Academy


Kids on the Gulf Coast returned to school this week. This means some students could become victims of bullying. Thanks to the American Martial Art Academy in D’Iberville, children can practice self-defense.

School can be tough for students who lack confidence and aren’t comfortable with standing up for themselves, but in D’Iberville children can learn self-defense through jiu-jitsu and other forms of martial arts at the American Martial Art Academy. American Martial Art Academy Owner Jim Fiore said, “We want to really teach our kids to use a strong voice, stand up tall and walk strong. That’s really going to limit a person from being bullied because they aren’t looking like an easy target. Bullies want an easy target.”

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At the academy, they have the S.T.O.P program, a program that practices self-defense for children. “The ‘S’ is for ‘speak’ so you need to speak up to the bully. The next part to it is ‘talk’ so you need to talk to them with courtesy and respect. The ‘O’ in S.T.O.P is ‘observation.’ You need to observe your environment. The last thing you need to do is protect yourself,” said Fiore.

Head Professor Erick Raposo is a second-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu who has won multiple tournaments. He realizes the impact he has on his students. “After I started teaching, it’s like I love doing that more than competing. I love transforming a person’s life.”

Lisa Shackelford is an example of this transformation. She started practicing jiu-jitsu a little over two years ago and notices the growth from every child who joins the academy. “I’ve seen children that have come in here and from day one, you see their self-confidence just blossom. They start walking taller. They hold their head up taller.  These children learn to become better human beings.”

To learn more about self-defense and the academy you can visit www.selfdefensedibervillems.com