Martial arts focus kids

Silvano Chaves with students Ted and Cooper. 186953_07 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Kyra Gillespie

Silvano Chaves is helping struggling kids re-kindle their love for the classroom through a very unconventional method: Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

Operating out of a small studio on Pakenham’s Purton Road, Mr Chaves has recently started up an all-abilities Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class for students of all experience levels, ages and needs.“My aim is to remove the barriers that kids and adults may face, and ensure nobody is denied access to the sport of Jiu-jitsu no matter their ability,” Mr Chaves said.

“In class one uses the body as much as the brain; for kids who have difficulties with concentration this can help them to learn how to engage and connect.

“By extension they improve at school, their attitude improves and they are more switched on in the classroom.”

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art, a form of self-defence and also a combat sport which focuses on fighting from the ground and promotes a concept that a smaller, weaker person can defend himself or herself against a larger much stronger aggressor.

“It’s a fast-growing sport, I think because of the different ways teachers can apply it to students,” Mr Chaves continued.

“We mainly focus on activities that are fun and are important for mental and physical growth. All class activities are predominately Brazilian Jiu-jitsu based but include skills that can be applied to everyday life.

“The aim of the classes is to develop skills including self-confidence, self-esteem, flexibility, strength and body awareness.”

Silvano Souza Chaves is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu purple belt under Professor Thiago Stefanutti.

Born in Brazil, Mr Chaves’ love for BJJ developed through overcoming his own personal struggles.

“Before I started with mixed martial arts (MMA) I was 140 kilos; after dedicating myself to the training I lost over 40 kilos in four years.”

After training in MMA for a few years, he decided to concentrate his entire focus to studying both Gi and No Gi Jiu-jitsu in 2010.

“I fell in love with Jiu-jitsu; I went to a few competitions and starting winning local and state tournaments.

“My passion for Brazilian grew because I loved the challenge of healthy competition and development of technique and unique skills.”

Mr Chaves has competed in multiple competitions throughout his BJJ career including Grappling Industries, the Australian National Championships and the Victorian State Championships.

He has won gold twice in the Melbourne Open and the Pan-Pacific Championships.

“The sport helped me to figure out where I was going in life, stay focused and achieve my goals,” he said. He has now turned his focus to being a positive force in the local community.

“A lot of kids have a lot of energy and nowhere to use it; Jiu-jitsu gives them an outlet to use up that energy and develop life skills in the process. They’re just not getting that sitting in the classroom all day, or at home playing video games.

“The sport is different because you use every single part of your body and you use lots of energy in a short amount of time.”

Pakenham father Rick has seen first-hand the benefits of the sport in his own children, Kayden and Cooper.

“Kayden was very behind in school – so much so that they were going to keep him back a year,” he said.

“After giving the classes a go his school work shot off; the drills, movements and practice helped him to reign in his focus.

“Sparring is a bit like chess; you have to predict what your opponent is doing, you’re thinking a lot as well as using every muscle.

“They’ve both learnt self-control and self-discipline as a result.”

To find out more about Mr Chaves’ classes, visit

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