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Students build character through Brazilian jiu-jitsu

LAWTON, Okla._Around 140 Eisenhower High School students received a lesson in ethics from a three-star general through the martial art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Retired Lieutenant General Mike Ferriter and his team put their skills on display and showed the students some basic techniques. The students used those moves and related them to situations, such as how to control a confrontation, and getting back up when knocked down.

The students absolutely loved the course. They were engaged and took instruction very well. Lieutenant General Ferriter was active and hands-on. He even got right down on the mat with them to make sure the students had the right technique.

Lieutenant General Ferriter retired from the United States Army in June 2014. Since then, he has been traveling across the nation using Army values and Brazilian jiu-jitsu principles as he teaches others to defend themselves. He says his classes are deeper than just stepping up to your opponent and fighting.

"It’s about self-awareness and leadership, self-confidence and a feeling that this may be tough, but I've been here before and I can get out of this," Lt. Gen. Ferriter explained.

Friday’s lesson included respect, character and the courage to get back up and try again…no matter how you're knocked down. It’s a lesson students learned firsthand by an instructor.

Assistant principal Laura Puccino said a character-building program like this is exactly what students in this generation need to prevent bullying.

"Respect for themselves, respect for others and the confidence to be resilient when life throws a curve ball," Puccino said.

Big or small, male or female, these student gave their opponents all they had.

"This is a gentle art of fighting where a smaller, less athletic fighter can control the situation and win, or control the situation and de-escalate the situation," Lt. Gen Ferriter explained.

The most important skill the general hopes the students got from the lesson is courage.

"Physical courage when it’s necessary. To have intellectual courage to listen and have open ideas and expand their mind in everything they do and also to have social courage to say no when something is not right," Lt. Gen Ferriter said.

All of the students were able to keep the uniforms from the class. Their principal says many of them were so excited that they wore them throughout the day.

Lieutenant General Ferriter says he plans to bring his team back to Lawton within the next year and visit more schools.

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