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Baltimore Chef builds community by teaching Jiu-Jitsu

Guardian Baltimore
Posted at 10:44 PM, Jul 09, 2024

BALTIMORE — Carlos Raba is a master of two arts.

Many people know him for his made-from-scratch tacos at Clavel, but if you go just around the corner from the restaurant, you will find another hidden gem: Guardian Baltimore.

It's the nonprofit Raba and his wife founded to teach Jiu-Jitsu, self-defense martial arts and offer free classes to young people.

“I’m passing along an art like how I pass along in the restaurant making tortillas. I’m doing here with martial arts,” says Carlos Raba.

Miguel Denis' daughter, Brooklyn, has been in the program for the past two years.

“Jiu-Jitsu goes against everything you taught them as a parent growing up until that point, so you tell them don’t hit, don’t fight, don’t attack somebody, and then you have to come to rewire the brain to do this," says Miguel Denis.

He says while she is learning new ways to defend herself, she is also learning life lessons.

“There is times where you don’t wanna go train there’s times where you don’t feel like being here and that’s why I had to step in and be like, hey you commit to this is something you wanted to do; you said you wanted to, or in a black belt, I’m gonna show you the ropes to get there," says Miguel Denis.

The children in the classes come from different backgrounds and live in different parts of the state, but they are united because of a common interest.

WMAR asked Raba why he chose to make the program free for them.

“It’s something that I always say we are a nonprofit that teaches; we don’t teach math, but we teach them how to be a human, how to face pressure, how to face anxiety, how to express yourself, and how to be in new surroundings, and I feel like that’s the most valuable,” says Raba.

Guardian Baltimore teaches children ages six to seventeen free of charge, and the children who study the art also get free burritos from Clavel after each lesson.