FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (May 19, 2011) - Three evenings a week, about 15 men and a few women gather in the combative room at Gaffney Fitness Center to practice a form of martial arts developed in the early 20th century.

Brazilian jiujitsu, also known as Gracie jiujitsu, is a martial art, combat sport and self-defense system that focuses on ground fighting. It is derived from the Japanese martial art of jiujitsu.

"Brazilian jiujitsu allows a smaller opponent to defend themselves against a larger person," said Chris Cochran, a jiujitsu instructor who has been teaching at Fort Meade for about two years.

By using leverage and proper techniques such as joint-locks and chokeholds, a smaller person can gain the advantage without becoming too aggressive.

The class begins with Cochran and co-instructor Deake Richman taking students through a series of warm-up drills designed to build muscle memory. Students practice somersaults, backward rolls, crawling and other moves that are also done in wrestling.

For the remainder of the class, students spar against nonresistant partners.

"It's good exercise," Richman said. "You learn to defend yourself and you gain confidence. You can handle yourself in bad situations. You feel more secure about yourself."

Sgt. 1st Class Fred Ramy started the class two years ago, with Cochran and Richman as students. When Ramy was reassigned, Cochran and Richman took over as instructors.

Trey Curry has been taking jiujitsu at Gaffney for two years. "It teaches a person who practices to be patient and relaxed," he said.

Curry said he has noticed an improvement in his performance over the years. "I hardly ever use my power," he said. "I'm defensive in fighting bigger guys."

Richman said jiujitsu is a great self-defense system for women. Although one or two women typically enroll in the class, they usually don't stay long enough to gain sufficient skills, he said.

"We encourage them to come, " Richman said.

Consistency is one of the most important requirements in learning jiujitsu, said Richman.

"If you get started and don't come for a couple of weeks, you have to start over," he said. "You have to build on whatever you learn."

Cochran said students in the class also form a jiujitsu club. They attend local, mixed martial arts competitions and watch games at each other's houses.

"It's about exercise, self-defense and camaraderie," Cochran said.

Editor's Note: Jiujitsu is offered Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. in the combative room at Gaffney Fitness Center.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16