Students received a glimpse of Brazilian jiu-jitsu Wednesday afternoon in Sneaky Park when demonstrators spotlighted self-defense and the importance of fitness.
The event was organized by senior communications major Grady Lee Thomas as a part of his senior project that aimed to bring something new to the students at the University of La Verne.
“I wanted to do something I had a passion for, so I chose this. I think it’s important to promote defense, fitness and wellness,” Thomas said.
“Fitness is really important. It’s good to sweat and this workout uses every fiber and muscle in your body,” Thomas said.
“You might be a good person, but sometimes trouble looks for you so it’s good to know defense to protect yourself, your family or loved ones and to be able to subdue, not hurt, somebody for protection,” Thomas said.
Instructors from the Rodrigo Teixeira Jiu-Jitsu Gym in Covina were present at the event and performed for a crowd of interested spectators.
White belts Jeff Navaretti and Tyler Schrader took the mat first, demonstrating various takedowns and forms of resistance.
The two individuals made the point that body type does not decrease anybody’s chances for defense mechanisms.
The 200-pound Navaretti was thrown on the floor several times by the much lighter Schrader.
“It’s not about strength, but about leverage. Anybody can do this,” Schrader explained.
“We have kids from the age of 13 to purple belts in their 50s. There’s no age range, but it’s a chance to do something productive, let out aggression, lose weight and feel good about yourself,” Schrader said.
Following was the Gi – a Kimono-inspired robe – demonstrations showcasing different finishes, submissions and submission locks.
Brown belt Brett Aldrich and female instructor Nikki Horton showed how to get more technical once you have someone already on the ground.
This demonstration further outlined the possibilities in Brazilian jiu-jitsu as Nikki took control over a very heavy Aldrich.
“I think it’s important for females because we are seen as physically weak in physical altercations, so it’s good to be able to see these self-defense techniques in action,” junior radio broadcasting major Noor Wahba said.
Horton elaborated on this stigma placed on females when it comes to physical sports such as Brazilian martial arts.
“It gives you a confidence you didn’t even think you had. As a woman, you portray that confidence and don’t need to worry as much about danger,” Horton said.
“Don’t let appearance push you away from trying something new,” Horton said.
Thomas’s expectations were met as many students showed interest in getting their first gym session in jiu-jitsu.
“I expect people to be aware of self-defense and I’d like people not to be intimidated or turned off,” Thomas said.
“It’s great for anyone who has an open mind, is willing to listen and work hard,” Schrader said.
Jose Hernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.