Another martial art refined by centuries of practice is jujutsu, the foundation of multiple modern martial arts. This defensive combat method developed in feudal Japan and was taught to Samurai warriors should they need to fight unarmed. While it originated on the battlefield, jujutsu began to develop into a competitive, ground-fighting combat sport and merged into new disciplines. Judo was formed in the early 20th century and was shortly followed by jiu-jitsu. The latter emerged halfway across the world from its predecessor in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when Carlos Gracie and his family founded a jiu-jitsu school in the 1920s. Today, this Brazilian style of jiu-jitsu, also known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, is widely practiced.
Mickey Swafford teaches Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to students at the Chattanooga Jiu-Jitsu Academy. A 4th degree black belt with over 25 years of experience, Swafford expertly instructs his students in ground-fighting, grappling techniques. Jiu-jitsu allows a fighter of any size to gain the advantage, from initial takedowns to holding an opponent from any position. “Through understanding the techniques and the use of leverage, strategy, and patience, a smaller, weaker person can defeat a larger, stronger opponent,” explains Swafford.
He continues, “Learning jiu-jitsu is like putting together a 100,000-piece puzzle with no clue what it will look like in the end. You just have to be patient and get 1% better every day. After a year or two, you will be amazed at what you have learned and how far you have come.”
What skills do martial arts foster?
Trevor Haines: You must learn to relax, especially under pressure, and use your opponent’s force instead of directly fighting against it. Positioning your body at angles that both deflect force and line your structure to transfer your power to the opponent’s center requires the skill to defend and counter-strike at the same time.
Mickey Swafford, owner of Chattanooga Jiu-Jitsu Academy
Mickey Swafford: An open mind and a willingness to be disciplined in your practice. It is one thing to mentally know what to do in a certain situation. It’s another thing altogether to be able to physically do it with a resisting opponent.
Rick Hall: Any exercise program requires the mental discipline to get up and participate on a regular basis. With martial arts training, you must learn patience. You do not develop great skill immediately – it takes time and commitment. You must learn to respect and enjoy the journey.
Jessie Thornton: No skills are required to start learning. The skills acquired will be agility, focus, self-discipline, and better stamina and overall health. Also, better flexibility and self-confidence!
Larry Scott: Be willing to apply skills on awareness, learn to react without complacency, and create leverage by learning how to use balance and breathing during the techniques that are being performed. Physical training, self-discipline, and engagement in training scenarios also play a huge role.