Brazil brings to mind images of soccer and samba, but not fighting. However, one group of UM students has learned that Brazil is the birthplace of one of the most unique martial arts in the world.
“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is based on Japanese Judo,” senior Jonathan Robbins said. “It allows a smaller person to defend against a bigger person successfully by using leverage and proper technique.”
Robbins is the president of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club sport. He is known as “oracle” by his fellow teammates because of his vast knowledge in martial arts.
“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a ground fighting art that applies joint-locks and chokeholds to make the opponent submit,” Robbins said. “It is very technical and there is a method for everything.”
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the hardest disciplines to obtain a black belt in, another thing that sets Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu apart from the other martial art disciplines is its training method.
“You can create your own game,” said Denis “Deninho” Mitchel, the club’s instructor. “In Muay Thai, Judo and other disciplines, you follow a set of rules but in Jiu-Jitsu, you can make it your own. There are various ways to do a technique so you can create your own style. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an evolution.”
Mitchel, a black belt originally from Brazil, has won various titles, including the Florida North American Grappling Association tournament in 2007. He allows the members of the UM club to train for competitions at his academy.
Jiu-Jitsu is a relatively young club sport at UM, it began in spring 2007. The team now has about 80 members and has received more than 20 medals over the years.
“The club just keeps getting bigger each semester,” freshman Daniel Viner said. “We get together and train almost every day. Tournaments have become regular. Notoriety has gone up and the number of people is only going to increase due to the popularity of MMA (mixed martial arts).”
Even though most members are male, Jiu-Jitsu is considered good for women because size does not matter in this sport.
“It is a great way to lose weight and it is very useful for women who want to learn how to protect themselves,” sophomore Benny Tavares said.