ELMHURST – Marine Anthony Ferro opened a martial arts academy in Elmhurst in early June with an aim of providing his students with an opportunity to build their self-confidence and help them achieve their goals.
Ferro Academy, 566 S. York St., Unit A, Elmhurst, offers training in kickboxing, Muay Thai and jiujitsu to students ranging from 5 to in their 60s, and Ferro also conducts personal training for students who are 16 years old to in their 50s, he said.
"Anybody's welcome. You go at their experience level," Ferro said.
Some students might want to compete, get in shape or learn self-defense, he said.
Ferro served in the military in Iraq twice and left as a sergeant in motor transportation, completing duties such as transportation and machine gunning. The disabled veteran credits jiujitsu with saving his life.
"It's like the best therapy ever. ... It was always there, no matter what," he said.
Ferro, a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu, said he has trained in martial arts for the past 11 years and has wanted to open his own school for years.
In order to earn a black belt, a martial arts athlete has to use the skills "every day" and apply the skills live in grappling, Ferro said.
"It's practical," he said. "It's not some fancy stuff you see that wouldn't work on streets in a self-defense situation."
Ferro said learning jiujitsu also teaches self-confidence. His goal is to encourage more children to learn martial arts as a bullying prevention technique.
"These kids in school nowadays are getting picked on and bullied, and that stuff is unacceptable," Ferro said.
He believes martial arts helps children learn how to stand up for themselves and have the confidence to walk away from confrontation, but it provides an option if needed, he said.
"I know how to fight," Ferro said. "I've been doing this a while. I would never, ever use it on the streets unless I had to. And knowing that gives me enough to have confidence and have security."
He said with jiujitsu, people studying it for the wrong reasons "don't last."
"Anybody with egos, they don't last," Ferro said. "It's very traditional, very disciplined, and that's what I love about it. And that's the goal. It's all about respect. And people need that, I think."
He said martial arts training also gives children a physical exercise option.
Ferro opened the academy in Elmhurst because he likes the "smaller community" of the city, which he says has a "family vibe."
The first class at Ferro Academy is always free, and he gives discounts to military and police and fire department personnel, he said.
"I try to help out the people who put their lives on the line every day," Ferro said.
For information about Ferro Academy, visit ferroacademybjj.com.