Jiu-jitsu: mastering the art of ‘human chess’

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Now more than ever, women are being encouraged to learn Jiu-jitsu so that if they ever face a life-threatening situation, they’ll have the tools to survive.

While even a generation ago martial arts were almost totally male-dominated domains, more and more women are taking up the pursuit as a means of self-defense.

Located in West Chandler, Jay Page’s Jiu Jitsu and MMA is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym run by black belt Jay Pages and his wife Lisa, a brown belt. According to Lisa, jiu-jitsu spreads mainly by word of mouth as more and more women are convinced by their friends or significant others to give it a try.

“When women see other women doing it, they become intrigued and think ‘If they can do it, why can’t I?’ The best part is you can, and you should! It is, in my opinion, the best self defense martial-art out there and all women should do it!”

For Lisa, the self-defense aspect of jiu-jitsu is key, and it’s just one of the reasons why, in addition to regular co-ed sessions, she also coaches a class exclusively for women at the gym.

“Most women start with me so they are comfortable, and then once they feel like it, they can venture out to the co-ed classes. But they still keep coming to my classes because we have lots of fun and it’s bonding time for us too.”

When most people first hear the term jiu-jitsu, they typically picture cheesy moves straight out of The Karate Kid or a Bruce Lee flick. However, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is actually a martial art that focuses on grappling, particularly on the
ground.

Technique and strategy are key, and using those disciplines often trumps brute force. Because of its focus on defensive and offensive tactics once a fight reaches the ground, where the average person doesn’t have a clue what to do, many experts agree jiu-jitsu is ideal for self defense for men and women alike.

In jiu-jitsu, the goal is to make your opponent “tap out” through techniques like chokes and joint locks. One major advantage jiu-jitsu has over other combat sports is that athletes can spar multiple times a week without taking a toll on their bodies in the way a sport like boxing does.

Star Moreno, a purple belt whose boyfriend got her into jiu-jitsu, particularly enjoys the mental aspect of what has been called human chess.

“Whether you’re big or small, fast or slow, in jiu-jitsu, technique conquers all.”

While many find jiu-jitsu enjoyable, Lisa admits it undoubtedly can be an intimidating experience when one steps on the mats and faces an experienced opponent.

“Even though it seems intimidating, it really isn’t. If you find a good school they are so supportive and amazingly helpful. They want you to learn. So the hardest part about it is walking through the academy’s door. After that it’s fun because you’re learning a
great martial-art.”

Regardless of one’s motivations for training, it’s important to note that the first several weeks or months especially can consist of lots of failure while getting familiar with
the various positions and moves the sport entails, making resiliency key, according to Lisa.

“Don’t quit. You are not going to learn jiu-jitsu overnight, and it can seem very overwhelming. It took me about six months to finally understand what in the world I was doing.

“But after that it becomes very addicting. Stick it out and you won’t be sorry.”

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