Since 1996, Smith has been involved with jiu-jitsu.
“Being bullied in high school got me involved,” said Smith, who began training at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins then came to Atlanta to learn the craft from Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti.
In 2009, Smith began teaching this form of self defense out of his garage which migrated into what is now Smith Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on Jodeco Road in McDonough.
“Imagine running in my neighborhood and then seeing people wrestling in my garage,” said Smith, who teaches at Luella High School.
At that time, Smith trained eight people. Now he has 85 students, half of whom are children.
“The thing that I find rewarding is not building a world class jiu-jitsu champion,” Smith said. “It’s not building some kind of superior athlete. It’s helping the girl come out of her shell, who doesn’t talk to anybody, to become more socially acceptable in terms of being able to communicate with others. “It’s the young kid who doesn’t have confidence in himself and gets pushed around at school but then trains with us and builds that confidence and defends himself if need be.”
At Smith Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kids are taught to handle bullying the proper way.
“We have an engagement program that has won national awards across the country,” Smith said. “We have rules of engagement so it goes into several factors. There is verbal engagement then there is the self-defense part. There are all kinds of things involved in our bully shield system.”
Smith also trains doctors, lawyers, plumbers, police officers and wounded veterans, to name a few, but believes his younger students benefit the most.
“I have a lot of teenagers who are still in high school that train with me and I know this has made a very positive influence on their lifestyles as far as them making the right decisions,” he said.
Smith’s dojo, or studio, is also the training ground for many young champions and is affiliated with the Alliance Team, which has won the past six world championships.
Smith’s sons, Lucca and Logan, who are 7 and 4 years old respectively, are involved in the sport and his wife handles the business aspect of the company.