Girls in Jujitsu club bring special touch

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It is one part grappling, one part chess. Despite size or athletic ability, one could take an opponent down and submit them. This is what the BYU Brazilian Jujitsu Club teaches every Wednesday and Saturday at the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU.

Gender, size and even athletic coordination don’t matter; Brazilian Jujitsu can be learned and used effectively regardless of physical background.

“I have learned great self defense, which is empowering, being a woman,” said club member Margaret O’Brien.

The club has a surprisingly large number of female participants. O’Brien said this has been great for them because it gives them confidence in any scenario where they might need to use self defense.

Brent Poole holds  Tom Burton to the ground as he pins his arm during a club meeting for BYU's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club. Photo by Natalie Stoker.
Brent Poole holds Tom Burton to the ground as he pins his arm during a club meeting for BYU’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club. Photo by Natalie Stoker.

“It’s also a great exercise and a healthy way to get out aggression or stress after a test,” O’Brien said.

The club is open to anyone and has people of all skill levels. On a typical Wednesday night, the club has anywhere between 20–30 members and instructors and students from Paul Tom’s academy in American Fork.

Brazilian Jujitsu is a “passive” martial art. The competitors typically wear a gi and start standing. As the match progresses, both opponents will look to submit or make the other tap with various moves such as locks and chokes.

Many practitioners think several moves in advance in order to submit their opponent. A lot of Jujitsu matches might not be as fast as typical martial arts, and the setups for submissions can be a matter of inches.

“The club has helped turn some people who might not seem fierce become adept competitors,” said club president Tom Gordon.

There are even times when some of the girls in the club will take down a guy they are grappling with.

“I have been choked out by some of the girl club members,” Gordon said.

The club also competes in grappling tournaments when they have the chance. In more than 10 years, as long as the club has been around, members have had success in the tournaments.

“It’s a relaxed place to practice things and a great place for women to practice,” said Brent Poole, BYU graduate and Paul Tom Academy student.

Poole has trained at many different academies and mentioned the club has more women than most academies. About one third of the club is women, and this helps to create a nice, relaxed atmosphere.

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