By Eric DiGiovanni
Style: Brazilian Jujitsu
When It Meets: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 5:30-7:30 PM
Where It Meets: Mat Room in Pritchard Gym
Who’s Known For It: Everyone with the last name “Gracie,” most UFC fighters
Brazilian jujitsu is a martial art that focuses primarily on grapping and fighting on the ground. One of the factors that separate it from others is that it relies primarily on leverage and improvisation. What amazed me from watching some of the more experienced members of this club was how one tiny detail; one foot in the right place, one twist of the hip, can turn the tides of the match.
I attended one of the meetings of the club this past Wednesday. There have been similar clubs in the past, which caused me quite a bit of confusion. There were wrestling and MMA clubs on campus, but those fizzled out. BJJ has been on campus for the past four years.
The main question I look for when doing these “Fight Club(s)” columns is, why should anyone bother taking this specific art? “It’s been the most proven form of self-defense” boasts instructor Krishna Mirjah. “It’s non-combative, unlike the striking arts. We can go full-out down here without really harming each other. Jujitsu literally means ‘Gentle Art’”
Terrence Cheng, a long time member, who was also on the e-board for the defunct MMA, club cited low turnout and the fact that only experienced people attended as the reasons why that club is no more.
Chances are, any UFC fighter you’ve seen on TV has had some experience in BJJ. It does cover quite a bit, including close quarters grappling, also known as clinching. BJJ also encompasses both ground fighting, where one combatant tries to maneuver to a more advantageous position, and submission fighting, where the object is to try to cause pain to a specific part of the body. Or, as Krishna puts it: “Gravity will take over eventually.”
Even if you’re not interested in learning anything new, it’s worth it to come just for the workout. Among the standbys like squats and running, one of the warm-ups was to practice a crucial move in BJJ known as “shrimping”. Shrimping is an escape maneuver that requires you to pivot on the hip and push out with your feet. In practice, it’ll look like you’re flailing around, like a shrimp. I never said anything about looking dignified.
One practice technique employed was called a flow drill, which is where a lot of the moves and techniques are learned. It’s basically a series of moves that look really cool when performed. I use “performed”, as opposed to “executed” because while it shows what options you can actually do in the middle of a fight, you’re probably not going to pull any of that off, at least on purpose. While it’s good to know “Great, in case I’m in this position, I can do this,” chances are the other guy isn’t going to let it play out, and is thinking of doing something else entirely.
The real meat of the class is the sparring, or “rolling”. These are done in three-minute rounds, where the only objective is to get a submission. Let me tell you, there are a million thoughts going through your head during one of these things. Oh sure, it starts out friendly enough, you both slap hands, and crouch into position. You try to have some sort of game plan going into it, but right when the other guy starts to move, fear begins to set in: Am I going get pinned down? Can I shake him? Then when the grappling begins, the blood pumps, and you have to force yourself to breathe normally. All that talk about strategy begins to fall to the wayside. If you’re compromised for even a second, instinct takes over. For seasoned veterans, this simply means to fall back on your extensive training, and fish around for an opportunity. Hell, they’ve danced this dance before, they have time. However, for most, and me in particular, fight-or-flight kicks in like an adrenaline fueled boot to the ass, and the primal urge to be on top boils to the surface. Oh, it’s easy for the instructor to say, “Relax, take it easy,” and keep it light. Honestly, though, how am I supposed to do so when a man is trying to choke me?
All in all, it was a good workout, and served as a venue to execute the individual moves learned in a practical setting. Looking back to all the times I got caught in the submission holds, I could almost see where I went wrong, and my opponent took advantage of an opportunity. Brains win out over brawn here.
When I asked the members, or more accurately, whoever showed up, for comments, they remained silent. Terrence was the only one to speak up, “I like the instruction…” and anything afterwards was drowned out by the rest shouting out their answers.
I think what summed up my feeling was the only thing I heard him say when everyone else quieted down: “I like the dedication everyone has”
So, if you’re looking for some good exercise, and to learn something new with people who are more than accommodating, try the Brazilian Jujitsu Club. And yes, there are girls who attend.
Latest posts by Eric DiGiovanni (see all)
- Farmville, You’re Welcome - April 23, 2010
- Fur and LARPing in Stony Brook - April 18, 2010
- It's a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Be In Rock Band - March 27, 2010