Making Good Season 6 Episode 5 Recap: Need to Believe


Kirby combines a newfound love of martial arts and service by spending the week with Need to Believe Foundation in Newark, California. Offering Brazilian jiu-jitsu lessons to kids with special needs, Need to Believe is driven by support, empowerment, inclusion, awareness, and progress. 

Founders Maurcio and Marina have been welcoming kids of all backgrounds to train with them since 2018. Now with about 40 students, the program includes kids with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, and severe ADHD. 

Kirby heads to Alonso Academy to meet with Marina for his job interview. A student under Mauricio, Marina comes from a background of working with special needs children. When Marina and Mauricio realized they could help these kids through the art of jiu-jitsu, everything changed. 

“There’s such a need for inclusion with people with disabilities,” says Marina. “I believe in my heart that everyone should get a chance to do everything, regardless of what your abilities are.” 

With Kirby’s lack of Jiu-jitsu experience, and ridiculous Karate Kid costume complete with a homemade terry cloth belt, Marina sends him to meet Mauricio for his skills test. 

Mauricio, a former MMA fighter and fourth degree black belt, teaches Kirby a traditional judo technique, Osoto Gari. After a successful demo on Mauricio, Kirby is ready to be part of the gym’s upcoming tournament. 

Kirby takes the opportunity to explore the gym, where photos of Mauricio’s journey and bits of history are scattered throughout. 

“Jiu-jitsu is 100 percent contact,” Mauricio says, explaining that because martial arts also teaches social and motor skills alongside sensory input, jiu-jitsu is the perfect teaching opportunity. “The kids with autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy…they have a hard time with that…they come here, and they see what we do, they start to do it kind of naturally.” 

“It’s very emotional,” Mauricio continues. “It's very fulfilling to make a positive impact on these families. Not only on the kids, because in the end, when it will change the kid’s behavior like that, it will affect the whole family in a positive way.”  

In preparation to meet the academy’s students and train with them for the tournament, Kirby does some solo Osoto-gari practice for the perfect Karate Kid moment. 

With a new day ahead of him and new Gi on, Kirby heads back to the gym to meet students like Giana and Nico.

Beverly, Giana’s mother, explains Giana has cerebral palsy and hypotonia, meaning that she has low muscle tone but “don’t underestimate her, because she can do anything.” 

 “I love jiu-jitsu because it’s fun and it makes me stronger,” says Giana. 

Beverly holds back tears when speaking about Giana, explaining it’s not just the physical aspect but also the social, “You can see her getting stronger, doing more things…Seeing her interact with others and seeing her confidence grow has just been amazing.” 

Beverly is thankful that Need to Believe not only adapts their program for Gianna, but also challenges her to do hard things too, “because we know she can do it.” 

Josephine explains her 11 year old son Nico was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare genetic disease that affects his vital organs. As a result he has autism and epilepsy, and has endured eight brain surgeries. 

“He’s so joyful,” says Josephine of Nico. “One of his things he says every day is: today is the best day ever.”

Kirby and Nico connect right away, with Marina calling them a match made in heaven. 

“The students are surrounded by people who tell them that they can’t do things. And in the gym, we like to keep that at the door,” says Marina. We always focus on abilities and not their disabilities…We want them to feel empowered that they did it right and that they earned something from it.” 

Once class wraps up, the athletes go home to rest for the tournament while Kirby catches up with Maurcio. Mauricio speaks to how fulfilling Need to Believe has been for him. “Nico and other kids here, they are doing stuff that even doctors would say they would not be capable of. For us, it’s really rewarding, and sometimes for the parents, it’s really surprising.” 

Though Mauricio could be training MMA champions, he instead chooses to be here, training the kids. Even though being an MMA champion and jiu-jitsu champion is a huge achievement for Mauricio, medals fade and rust eventually- but this work changes peoples’ lives, “The love and the legacy that you leave in this world is how many peoples’ lives you changed for the better. I love the families, I love the parents, I love the kids. They are my happy place.” 

Time to prepare for the tournament showcase, Kirby starts cleaning mats and setting up the medals and belts. The students will earn awards for their hard work and show their families what they’ve learned through their time in the program. 

Nico arrives ready to compete, aside from having a seizure that morning.

 “For Nico, it’s like Christmas Eve,” says Josephine. “It’s just his time to shine.” 

The vibrant energy in the gym is immediately noticeable, and it becomes more apparent that Need to Believe has brought together a beautiful community.  

“One of the blessings about going is just getting to know the parents, too,” says Josephine.  There’s a connection…here’s a shared, respected space that’s been really awesome to be a part of.” 

Nico and Kirby kickoff the first match of the day, with Nico taking Kirby down amidst victorious cheers. Nico’s amazing performance in the match, along with his hard work and dedication within the program, earns him a championship medal and a new gray belt. 

“When I see them cheer, and I see that this is a safe space for them, that they’re able to bring their kids in and we are just going to accept them, it feels really good,” says Marina. “This is our purpose, it’s to help these families.” 

Kirby watches tearfully alongside the parents as kids in the program, like Gianna, continue to achieve takedowns. Finally, he performs his song, Strong To Be Kind and reflects on his life-changing week with the Need to Believe coaches and families. 

“All that matters is love,” says Maurcio. “Give love, receive love.” 

Stream the episode now, and stay tuned for more brand new episodes of Making Good, premiering Sundays on BYUtv.