Meet Carl Fisher…The man behind Brazilian Jiujitsu in Wimbledon. Ever considered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a main fitness activity? Carl is a black belt master and you can find him right here on your doorstep!
Brazilian jiujitsu in Wimbledon?
That’s correct. Healthy Wimbledon Girl was invited to join in and here’s what I learned!
1) BJJ is all about Respect!
The first thing I noticed when joining the group is that everyone greets everyone with a firm handshake and an introduction. Rule of thumb. A handshake greeting and an acknowledgment. That in itself is refreshing. Don’t see that many places. Basic respect!
2) Get dressed in your Sports Gear!
The uniform of choice for BJJ is called a Gi. Short for Keikogi (training gear in Japanese). No rules, no exceptions. A thick jacket and pair of trousers, all belted with a thick cloth belt with your ranking colour on your belt. There’s also a mouthguard to wear.
3) Class Begins!
As this is a group of individuals coming together, we stand around in a line, waiting to hear the lesson’s plan and any notices that need to be said and news that needs to be shared.
4) Like all sports, there is a Warm Up!
Off they went for their practice warm-ups. Could I have joined in? Not really! The warm-up exercises consist of forward rolls, backward rolls (was never any good at gymnastics), something called shrimps (gotta see it to believe it) and some technical get-ups. This is where I’m seriously impressed. Not only are these students able to do these exercises but all dressed up in their thick Gis as well. Well, the sweating and fitness were right there in front of me to see. As well as their mobility skills and prowess. A spectacle indeed.
5) Practise to learn. Drills, Drills and more Drills!
But first, the ‘slap and fist bump’. Or the ‘pound’. Hehe, another form of mutual respect and recognition of your training partner. A secret code for fair play and looking out for each other. Before the drill, you ‘do the pound’. If, at any time during your drill, you feel uncomfortable and need to come out of the hold, you ‘tap out’ or ‘do the tapping’. In BJJ, you are always looking out for your partner and keeping the practice safe.
6) Shark Tank time. Time for Skills and Humility!
Time to put into practice all the lessons learned during the drills. Two students lie on the floor and all the others literally take turns. The idea is that the person on the floor is defe
nding and the person about to tackle him is attacking him. Always the ‘slap and fist bump’ and off they go. Hard work, learning to grapple with different people. For the two people on the floor it’s non stop fighting and for the people on top, it’s two maneuvers in a row. This is hard. This is difficult. You will not always win. You will not always lose. This is where you must learn to practise humility. You are there to practise and learn, you are not there to win and beat everyone else.
Leave it behind. Leave it on the floor…
7) Last but not least: The Line-Up!
The class ends and it feels good. So much has been practised, so much has been learned and such heights have been reached. But before we leave, the final respectful greetings that go with BJJ. We all stand in a line, one behind the other, and we slap and fist bump every single person in that line. And the lesson ends.
So many interesting things I learned along the way…
In fairness, the class was mostly men. I wouldn’t know if this is down lack of knowledge or BJJ being stereotyped as a sport for men. According to Carl, and he should know, the sport is not dependent on your sex. Whether male or female, BJJ is all about technique over force. If you master the maneuvers correctly, then you can grapple equally, regardless of brute strength or force.
Brazilian Jiujitsu is all about self-defense. It is about mastering your inner strength and in turn mastering your skills. It’s about defending yourself when you are defenseless. It’s also about patience. It takes around10/15 years to ride the course, to master the steps from a white belt to a black belt (white/blue/purple/brown/black), approximately 3 to 4 years per belt.
Do the guys on the mat become firm friends? Of course they do. They meet twice weekly, they meet every three Saturdays as well (with a quick bevy and pub lunch after) and they hold each other’s secrets. What goes on on the mat stays on the mat. That is where you learn true courage and perseverance. Where you become a true master of your mind and body. Whether white or black belt, each Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter is equal on the mat, each one his own master and each one to be truly respected. It does indeed take humility and equal strength to become a master!