GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) – A new martial arts school in George County will host a free self-defense class for anyone in the community interested in learning.

Wilkerson’s Martial Arts Academy opened in January to teach children and adults the skills of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

“It’s been a dream of mine since probably high school. I started martial arts with karate when I was 15 years old so it’s been almost 30 years building up to this point to train others in my own gym,” said owner Steven Wilkerson.

The free self-defense class was an idea he had early on when planning to open the academy. He has seen people face bullying and violence and wants to help others learn how to get out of a dangerous situation when needed.

“There’s just too much going on in George County and the world right now,” Wilkerson said. “Everybody needs to be able to defend themselves. So this class will just enable people to be confident and stick up for themselves when they need to.”

The inaugural class is scheduled for Thursday, March 16, at 6 p.m. and will last about 90 minutes. Anyone 13 and older can attend. Participants should come in exercise clothes and do not need to have any experience in martial arts.

Self-defense is also a part of the regular classes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu the academy hosts. Wilkerson has been practicing the discipline for seven years and currently holds a purple belt.

His students also train in the art at a competitive level. So far this year, they have been to tournaments by the American Grappling Federation in Biloxi and Jackson.

Classes are typically hosted:

  • 5 – 6 p.m. on Wednesdays
  • 6 p.m. – kids (4-12 years old), 7 p.m. – adults on Fridays
  • 11 a.m. – kids (4-12), 12 p.m. – adults on Saturdays

Prospective students can try out a week of classes for free to get a feel for the instruction and environment.

The academy runs out of the same building as Jennifer’s School of Dance, 9269 Old 63 S, Lucedale, across from George County High School. More information on the classes is available on the group’s Facebook page.