What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
A grappling style characterized by a lot of groundwork in which the ultimate aim is to defeat your opponent using techniques like arm locks and chokes. One of the many great things about BJJ is that it is sparring based (we call it “rolling”), so you get to really apply the techniques you’re learning without holding back. There’s no punching or kicking or whatnot. You could look at it as a form of fighting without hurting. One of the reasons BJJ has become popular is that it’s an essential element in MMA (mixed martial arts).
Who is behind Brighton Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Exchange?
That would be me, Marcus. I run the club. I’ve been into grappling in a big way since my mid to late twenties, when I took up judo and wrestling. I was fortunate enough to train with a lot of high-level wrestlers, from UK national freestyle champions, to Australian and Brazilian Olympians, and my judo instructor was the legendary Percy Sekine, who, among other claims to fame, started a judo club in his prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War. (Read his obituary here). For health reasons I had to give up actual training when I was 30, but that didn’t stop me writing a book about grappling (The Last Wrestlers). At the beginning of 2014, now middle-aged and a bit on the porky side, I had a go at BJJ and . . . I’m now a purple belt, in as good shape as I was in my twenties, and a complete BJJ addict, training as often as I can (pictured below, with students). I like to compete, too, and I’ve won a few comps.
We are also very lucky to have the support of black belt Jack Magee, the founder and head instructor of the Madhatters Academy, over in Chichester, and we are affiliated with Jack’s Mad Hatters team. Jack trained over in Brazil in the early 2000s, learning from legends such as Gordo, creator of the half guard. Among many other accomplishments, he’s won both the British Open and English Open as a black belt.
Who teaches the classes?
I do. The classes are well structured and we follow a well-thought-out curriculum designed to get students learning as quickly as possible. As a trained teacher (I taught English for a few years), I’m into teaching in a big way — or, more accurately, into understanding how people learn and therefore how you can teach them in a way that they learn rapidly.
What kind of BJJ do you teach?
Sport BJJ. That doesn’t mean that what you learn won’t be useful in self-defence, though. You’ll be taught all the positions — mount, back control, side control, closed guard, and so on — and we place a particular emphasis on takedowns, grip fighting and guard passing, as well as open guards like De La Riva, collar and sleeve, and spider-lasso. We’re a competition-focused club, and we like to compete.
Do I need any equipment?
We train wearing a jacket and pants, collectively called a gi, similar to the ones judo guys wear. If you already have a gi, then great, but if you don’t, we can lend you a jacket, which is all you need to get started. Just message me so I know you’re coming and can bring in a jacket for you.
Any other questions you want answered? Email them to brightonbjjexchange at gmail dot com.