Fighting for Peace? What’s This?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer

Today while was reading the news I saw this article, entitled, “In Rough Slum, Brazil’s Police Try Soft Touch.” Apparently in the favela’s (slums) some cops have been working with the youth to reach out with karate! After a little more research I found out about an organization called, “Fight for Peace” were this NGO (non-governmental organization) also reaches out in a favela to offer boxing & martial arts, personal development, youth support services, job training, and youth leadership!

In this post I will highlight the problems, some traditional solutions, and what I think of this organization’s approach, “Fight for Peace.” First here is the movie trailer – City of God.




I have not seen this movie and I might not have considered it because the trailer seems to point out the gangs. I generally don’t think much of gangs of any kind because my great grandfather was apparently snuffed in New York City after having a disagreement about paying protection money (or the story goes – I was not there).  


After reading this article I am guessing this movie is not glorifying gangs but trying to show the world the challenges. That is a noble endeavour as the first step to changing something is to take a long hard look at the problems. One thing here to know is poor neighborhoods are generally forgotten by developers because no one wants to live there. The people there generally do not have an easy way out so they try to make the best of their situation.


Now if you discount the crime rate in the favelas and poorer sections of anywhere – lower middle class or working class neighborhoods can still be a rough to grow up. Sure there are more opportunities for the children if they want but there is still a lot of pressure to be tough so kids won’t take advantage of you.


The differences are though that most of the favela kids won’t have the opportunities that the working class kids will have.


What is the one thing kids need to succeed? They need to believe they can first and after that they need to know how to go about it!!!


Some solutions have included special schools, clubs and what I’ve always liked are boxing  clubs seem to set up in the poorer neighborhoods! Why? Because poor kids more than any other have a burning desire to succeed at fighting! Kids have to learn how to take care of themselves early or become victims.


The thing about boxing or any martial art is it takes a lot of effort to do good. Sure a street fighter can do ok for a while but put a good fighter against him and he will get his clock cleaned.


Trainers try to instill wisdom into the young fighters because they want the kids to succeed in life. A real messed up kid will not be consistent with her training and never advance to any real success. I found this video about Fight for Peace for your review.




I love watching this video… aren’t kids the same the world over? I mean why really do some kids have lots of opportunities and others have little to no hope? Sure life is hard in some places and the adults might have given up but why should we write off the kids? I know we generally don’t question are place in life but know this… if you don’t like your lot in life… it is up to YOU to change it.


Organizations like Fight for Peace, offer a framework for kids to know there is more out there. There are a lot of other NGO’s, program, organizations that offer similar help for those who seek it out but let me give one example of what we need to overcome to make a positive change.


Kids that are told they are a piece of crap and live in a slum start to believe what they are told and where they live – define them! Both what the kids are told and where they live are not the kids fault (maybe no one person’s fault) but if the kids parents, teachers, people of influence don’t know how to console the kids to be their own advocates and methods of getting ahead in their surroundings – how is a kid going to surmount that?


 I think Fight for Peace is one good approach to change the thinking of the kids in these favela’s and slum’s. Many of the readers of this website like me have been part of a martial arts school for years and have already seen first hand the benefits of training, camaraderie, guidance, and friendship to kids of all socio-economic backgrounds. I have witnessed kids with rough backgrounds transform into wonderful adults because someone thought to enroll them into a boxing club.


Kids are our future. In this age if mindless distractions and schools scaling back on the arts and physical education – kids are a resource we can ill-afford to squander! Support your local boxing, martial arts or youth organization!


Here is another poor kid that made good, the King, Elvis Presley, performing, “In The Ghetto.” I hope you have enjoyed this story about what I believe can be framed as how we can make our world a better place, through martial arts and some outreach. I hope you will consider a gift to Fight for Peace, if this organization meets your criteria for how to help kids succeed life!




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7 Responses to “Fighting for Peace? What’s This?”

  1. Chris | Martial Development Says:

    You might be interested in the movie Rize. It’s about ghetto kids who take up a very aggressive form of dancing, in order to stay out of trouble.
    Chris | Martial Development recently posted..Why Are White Belt Fighters So DangerousMy Profile

  2. Matt Klein Says:

    Great post John. I have been to the favelas in Rio. You don’t go in there unless you are invited. Luckily my driver knew a guy who lived there and had a bit of “juice” in the neighborhood. It is not pretty there. No electricity or phone or sewage in a lot of the places. Rivers of mud during the rainy season because there is no pavement or drainage. There is a law unto itself in each favella as the drug lord controls the economy, dispenses justice as needed, or dishes out resources as he sees fit. Cops don’t even go there–is it is too dangerous, unless they are after someone important, and then they come in with an army. The reason; the guy said it best in the first video, poverty and hopelessness. There is no middle class there. There is a tiny group of people who control the wealth and the vast majority are poor. The heroes and role models in the favellas are the drug lords. This is unlikely to change. I’m glad this program offers some hope, John.
    Matt Klein recently posted..Kids Defence- Tip 3My Profile

  3. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hey Chris! Rize looks interesting… read the reviews. Anything including getting into dance is a good alternative outlet then getting into gangs. Thanks for pointing this out.

    Hi Matt! I seem to remember you mentioning the favelas before? Thanks for the first hand account and I would not go there as a tourist. I too like hope because without that there is only a bad deal. There are many solutions however so but the biggest hurdle I think is helping people believe they can surmount obstacles. Thanks for your insight Matt.

  4. TheMartialArtsReporter Says:

    Another great find.
    The topic you bring up is very thought-provoking.
    I wholeheartedly agree with you that especially kids and
    teens (but not only!) have to been given hope to change their situation and outlook.
    They also need the tools how to alter their belief in them-selves in a positive manner and to put it all into action.
    This is a tough one, especially in places like the favelas.
    Fight For Peace is definitely one of many ways and grassroots organizations (without the government redtape) to make real change.
    John, thanks again for a great post and making me aware of Fight For Peace.

  5. Martial Arts News – 10.17.10 « Striking Thoughts Says:

    […] Zimmer discusses fighting for peace. Apparently in the favela’s (slums) some cops have been working with the youth to reach out with […]

  6. Eharris Says:

    Brazil is kinda wild. I mean, the country is on the cusp of becoming a world player. But, many of the people actually live in some pretty bad conditions. I know we get more requests from Brazil than any country outside the US to purchase stun guns. Crazy!

    TASER Gun

  7. Dan Stratton Says:


    “True self-defense is to protect yourself without injuring your attacker”-J.Mitose. Safe-Defense is new and uses problem solving to address the problem behind an aggression, often before things escalate. Many attacks are from criminal or random events, but many, many more are not. They’re based on a problem or mis-perception.

    I have developed Safe-Defense which focuses on the problem and not the person. View my short animations (Peace Think, Peace Talk and Peace Moves) for free at my virtual dojo at: Feel free to pass the techniques on or teach them yourself but please call them Safe-Defense.