Hohenfels Brazilian jiu jitsu
Jeremy Workman (top) and Kyle Wilke spar during the free Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class at Hohenfels, recently.

FORCHHEIM, Germany -- Members of the Hohenfels Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) class took top honors at the Forchheim Grappling Challenge, here, last month.

Class instructor Jeremy Workman took first place in the advanced heavyweight division, as well as battling to the top spot in the "Absolute" or open tournament. His student, Master Sgt. Adin "Sal" Salkonovic, also won gold in the super-heavyweight beginner division.

"Sal went through the beginner class no problem, he beat everybody," Workman said. "We took a small team to a small tournament and came out with first place in everything we put ourselves in for."

It's not the first time that Workman or his students have placed high in regional tournaments. In November last year, the team journeyed to Paris, France, for a North Atlantic Grappling Association tournament.

"That was a big one," Workman said. "There were hundreds of competitors. We had three guys competing in the beginner levels, I competed in the advanced, and everybody walked away with one or two medals."

"It was exciting and a little nerve wracking, too, because it was the first time I actually competed against anybody," said Michael Green, who has been training with Workman since the class began in February 2011. "But with Jeremy there coaching me, I went right through and won."

"It's all technique," he added. "If you get the body mechanics right, it all comes natural with almost no strength at all."

"That's what the sport is," Workman agreed. "It's the little guy versus the big guy. It's specifically designed for defending yourself against a larger, stronger opponent."

Workman attributes much of his students' success to their fitness level.

"A lot of what we do in the class is fitness related," he said. "When we get to the five-minute mark in a tournament and the other guy is starting to gasp and he's running out of energy, we're used to it, we're ready. Our practice is always five-minute rounds and we're used to pushing the limits."

Workman said he initially got involved in the sport to lose weight, and part of his goal for the class is to help people get in shape.

"Some guys come just for that," he said. "We have seen several folks getting in great shape and competing well at BJJ tournaments through the year."

For Workman, competition and camaraderie are what drive his passion for the sport.

"I've made a lot of good friends in the class," he said. "I want to teach other guys the sport so that they get better, and, in turn, they make me better."

"We got up to around 25 consistent folks," said Workman, but added that PCS season has recently diminished their numbers. "And by consistent, I mean once a week. With training schedules, family life, most people don't show up three times a week."

After a thorough warm-up, Workman leads his class through various drills for an hour or so, and then students pair off to practice techniques.

In May, Workman will begin a children's class which he said will focus mainly on self-defense, jiu jitsu-related games and exercise.

"I have so much fun training with my kids," said Workman. "I hope to involve the parents in the kids' class, as well. If the parents are willing to participate in something like that it will be really fun for them."

Classes are held Mon., Wed. and Fri., with doors open from 5-9 p.m. Though currently being held at the post gym due to a scheduling conflict, in May they will be moving back to Building 47. Class is free and all skill levels are welcome.

Page last updated Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 00:00