an article published in Men's Rio by Mary Walker
|Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: A Martial Art for Everyone
By Mary T. Walker Word count of text: 675
Gracie-Barra McAllen (GB-McAllen) at Dove Ave welcomes all families to embrace their concept of “Jiu Jitsu for Everyone.” Within the walls of GB-McAllen, families can participate in “Arte Suave” or “The Gentle Art” that Masters Carlos and Helio Gracie developed from their original instruction in Judo by Count Kano. The GB-McAllen Academy instructors follow this traditional Brazilian style.
Joshua Sharpless, program director/instructor of GB-McAllen is one of many certified Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructors who, along with owner/Black Belt Professor, Tyler Bosard, are ready to share this “Gentle Art” with men, women, & children throughout the Valley.
Although it has all the appearances of a traditional martial art like Karate or Tae Kwon Do, Jiu Jitsu is a non-striking, grounded form designed for intelligent escape and evasion of attack because all physical encounters end up on the ground at some point. Much of the practice happens rolling on the floor, a bit like wrestling or as Sharpless says, “thinking more than struggling—like physical chess.” This form of martial art demonstrates the effectiveness of technique over power, letting the Jiu Jitsu user have victory regardless of an opponent’s size.
Sharpless and the GB staff encourage families to participate in Jiu Jitsu. This promotes an avenue for family fitness that is not just like every other fitness program but offers an effective method of self-defense for each family member. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that allows for family members at all levels to participate because it does not require you to be an athlete but allows you to develop into one.
Mike Gonzalez, a student fully donned in his blue belted gi, awaited his class while watching his daughter Haley during her lesson. He shared the positive experience he has personally achieved, the behavior benefits he has seen in his child, and the bonding this single father has gained with his daughter from the common endeavor of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Gonzalez also notes that following in the progressive curriculum helps each student of any age learn an appreciation for discipline and the art of using Jiu Jitsu for fitness and self-protection. “It’s like…” Gonzalez gestures. “…you look forward to it all day. It’s become my addiction.”
Another family embracing the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lifestyle is the Romero family - a father and his sons who have now been participating in Jiu Jitsu for four and a half years. It began as an activity that could be done between a father and a son who was developing into a young athlete according to Mr. Romero. “Trevor had decided that he was too small to continue with football and I was not flexible enough to participate in gymnastics with him, so after having friends involved in BJJ we decided to try it. It only took us about a week to realize how fun and addicting the sport can become.”
Trevor and Mr. Romero have given back to the sport/lifestyle by offering instruction to fellow GB family members. With their continued participation, the younger Romero, Josiah, developed an interest and has now been actively involved for over two years and is progressing through the ranks. The two boys also have a sister, Blythe, who, with encouragement, chooses to participate on a less frequent basis. All of the Romero’s have developed an improved appreciation of health, fitness, and self-defense.
Mr. Gonzalez is quick to dispel the myth that learning a martial art will engender violence and produce bullies in school. Gonzalez smiles and points to the children on the mat, “See? One child fell to the ground and the other is helping him up. They learn respect.”
He describes the anti-bullying rhetoric the instructors relay to each class of children in an effort they call being “bully proof.” If a parent wants to train in conjunction with a child they can come on Saturday for the hour-long team building class. After all, in front of the students and trainers, painted on the wall is the Gracie-Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy’s motto: “Organized like a team, fighting like a family.”