pinned under my partner, her weight planted on my chest, arms
bound around my head.
practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique, I moved my legs to one
side, lifted my hips to shift her weight, shoved my forearm up
against her throat, twisted an arm and wriggled out from
underneath while still maintaining control.
being pinned down. At least I now know how to get out.
Jiu-Jitsu is described as a martial art designed to allow the
weaker to defeat the stronger. When I learned it mainly
involves grappling, I had to give myself a mini-pep talk. I
reminded myself that I have grappled before in martial-arts
classes. I could do it again.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu takes grappling to an entirely different
level. I spent half the class either putting my full weight on
my partner, Morwenna Hardwick, or working on an escape when
she pinned me down. The other half was spent in a headlock.
people arrive at the Gracie Barra Seattle studio new to
grappling. Head instructor Rodrigo Lopes said being grabbed
without reacting can be a challenge, and self-defense is one
of many reasons to learn Jiu-Jitsu.
is the physical challenge. After outfitting me in a white gi,
Lopes had us do a quick warm-up and demonstrated the first
technique, a bear hug and headlock escape.
practiced bracing our hands against our opponents’ bellies
to escape the bear hug, got pulled into a headlock, then set
up our feet to collapse our opponents onto our legs, then
slide them out so they fall to the ground and we escape.
Finally, we let our hips collapse so they couldn’t pull us
over and pin us.
It is a
complex series of moves that requires pretty much every muscle
in your body. We did it so many times.
figured out the bear-hug escape, but had trouble getting my
feet set correctly so I could push on Morwenna’s knee and
have her sit on my leg. I also pulled her down often, rather
than sliding my supporting leg away. I did manage to collapse
my hips most of the time.
escape — and yes, even the headlock — felt like playtime
compared to the side-mount escapes.
started with our opponents on top, arms wrapped on either side
of our heads. To get them off, we had to move our legs to one
side, push our hips up and shove an elbow into their throats,
keeping them up and away so we had time to slither out while
still keeping control.
me a while to figure out how to escape, though I disliked
being the opponent more; having an arm shoved into my throat
another side-mount escape; this one became my favorite. We
started with one arm wrapped around the person’s shoulder.
To get out, we had to move our legs and shove our hips up,
grab our opponents’ lapels and pull them up to get enough
room to twist out. We also swiveled our legs in a twist to
keep one hand on the lapel and get on top. I liked the complex
twist required to execute this escape.
mention I was disheveled, and also pulled out some of my
partner’s hair? Sorry, Morwenna.
repeated each technique multiple times and then, for the final
chunk of class, had to repeat all three over and over, as fast
as we could go.
Jiu-Jitsu will get you accustomed to close quarters, fast. I
was surprised that by the end, the contact felt normal, and
was even fun.