Leo Barahona - The Impact of Giving Back Through Martial Arts

My Big Story

Leo Barahona is teaching the philosophies of martial arts as life skills for children and adults. He’s now turning his school into a nonprofit to make a bigger impact — with more students, lower or no fees, and to build a community beyond the borders of the school.




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Leo Barahona has a great story that is currently unfolding with an amazing new goal. A U.S. Veteran who owns a martial arts school in Texas, Leo’s teachings go far beyond just learning the physical skills. It’s also about creating a safe space, a community, and teaching the philosophy and wisdom of martial arts. Leo’s impact to the world is about helping people understand themselves and giving them the knowledge, skills and self-esteem to be successful and to make their own impact in the world. Now, Leo is transforming his for-profit business into a nonprofit, which allows him to expand the options, to fund more students at no-charge to them, to create new specialized courses for various groups in need, and to grow the community beyond Texas. Leo’s passion is for helping people because that’s what people did for him in his youth, and without it, he wouldn’t be where he is today. In this conversation with Christopher Swan, Leo shares his experiences, how they connect to his ongoing mission, and how he’ll make a bigger impact.


Key Takeaways

[2:21] Leo tells us more about his martial arts school, where he teaches Hawaiian Jujitsu which is a fantastic self-defense art.
[3:43] Why did Leo start his own martial arts school?
[7:29] Beyond teaching martial arts, Leo has been giving back to the community in such a bigger way, which is a driving force for him.
[10:30] Leo shares how his experiences growing up have lead him to support others towards the right path.
[13:48] Leo recently launched a GoFundMe account to help fund a New School For Bestia Martial Arts. Why did he start the fundraiser?
[16:13] Receiving the non-profit support is allowing to grow a community and to help at risk youth and those who need it the most.
[22:21] Nina Cutro-Kelly is volunteering at Leo’s school to teach self-defense to women, which helps to empower them as well.
[24:31] Leo shares some of the ways his wife contributes to giving back, including her work with foster care agencies.
[26:32] How brainstorming with his wife has helped Leo gain a deeper understanding of the psychology behind providing his services to the children.
[30:24] Leo had a bitter-sweet experience during the Oklahoma City bombing, which led him to discover his journey of doing bigger impact work.
[33:28] Leo says, “It’s also about how you treat people. Be decent to people. I think that’s one of the biggest things that we can do in our lives, is be a little bit more descent towards each other.” How has this mindset affected his school?
[37:05] What advice would Leo give to somebody who wants to do something to help in a bigger way?
[40:03] What advice would Leo have for his younger self?
[41:54] Find out how to best get involved and follow along with Leo’s journey.
[44:07] Any thoughts or questions you’d like to share? Send us a message or post a comment on Facebook or tweet us @accidentalinfo using #LivingYourJourney.


Mentioned in This Episode

@accidentalinfo on Twitter
Accidental Information on Facebook
#LivingYourJourney for Tweets
Bestia Martial Arts on Facebook
GoFundMe: New School For Mokuroku Martial Arts Society
American Jujitsu Institute in Hawaii
1Touch™ Self Defense Project
Angel Staffing
Holistic Empowerment Resources (HER)



“The world always needs good people.”

“We want to take our for-profit business and turn it into a non-profit, so that we can go ahead and help more people with it.”

“If you have the desire to help, you’re halfway there.”

“Have a plan and don’t give into the negativity.”