Local man with cerebral palsy hits jujitsu milestone in viral video moment

By Sam Bauman

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 12:08 PM EST|

POOLER, Ga. (WTOC) - WTOC first told you about the Special Kicks program at Pooler Karate back in 2020.

Now one of the students who came through it has reached a major milestone.

One that was seen and celebrated by more than a million people thanks to a video that captured the special moment.

For the past year and a half Matthew Sangiorge and Alex Mercado have had a standing appointment.

“We come in every week, every Friday. What time do we come in?” Sangiorge asked.

“1:30!″ Mercado responded.

Matthew trains Alex, who has cerebral palsy, in Brazilian Jujitsu.

“Definitely a whole lot of running around, a lot of groundwork to keep him moving,” said Sangiorge.

Over the past year and a half Mercado has gotten pretty good.

Good enough, that just last week he received the first white stripe on his belt.

A milestone Matthew says, he’s more than earned.

“It was definitely your time buddy. Everything we’ve been going over he soaks it in like a sponge.”

When that stripe was officially added his reaction said it all.

“It really just shows what martial arts is all about. You know, that everybody can come in no matter what and everyone will support you and carry you on your journey,” said Sangiorge.

That support growing beyond the gym racking up nearly 2 million views on Matthew’s TikTok.

“I was like, ‘wow!’ The power of social media that everybody can kind of see what we’re doing here.”

A moment of pure joy that Matthew believe sends an important message.

“Alex really shows you that you have no excuse. If Alex can come in here with a smile on his face every day, bust his butt harder than any other student, you really don’t have an excuse. It makes your problems not that bad.”

A lesson this master is learns from his student every time they hit the mat.

“I’m telling you this man right here has changed my life. I’m saying how can you have a bad day when he comes in. I’m telling you I’m very appreciative. Friends forever,” Sangiorge says.

If you’d like more information on Pooler Karate’s Special Kicks program click here.

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