Conan’s recent post on The Jiu-Jitsu Fighter about our two new class times made me think about the transformation of our Jiu-Jitsu class over the past several years. When I started Karate at the dojo seven years ago, Conan was one of only a few Jiu-Jitsu students, and looking from the outside the class seemed to have more of an MMA feel. I was pretty much overwhelmed by Karate at the time, and watching those dudes grappling literally terrified me. The instructor, Darin, always had black eyes, and they all seemed like a bunch of “tough guys”. I found it fascinating, but I thought I would just stay on the spectator side.
Then Conan took over as instructor, and the class started to look more like one you would see in a dojo. More students started showing up, and most of them were wearing gis. Conan didn’t come up through a traditional art, so the students didn’t really know all of the dojo etiquette, but they showed respect, and it seemed to be a much friendlier atmosphere than in the past.
This led me to actually get up the nerve to start training Jiu-Jitsu three years ago. Conan knew I had an interest in it, and he encouraged me to give it a try. Since I came from a traditional art, I was a little unsure about training in a non-traditional, hybrid, seemingly sport-based style, but the senior students in that class reflected the attitude of their teacher, and I was welcomed into the group. Most of them are still training there to this day.
We don’t have a traditional curriculum in our Jiu-Jitsu class. There is no real “history”, beyond that which we create ourselves. We are sometimes considered the black sheep of the dojo, but we are still young. We are the only art that was born and bred there. The seed that was planted when Ido Pariente came to the dojo from Israel and asked Shihan to teach him some ground Judo has blossomed into much more than I ever would have thought was possible from what I saw seven years ago.
I am proud to be a Roseberry’s Jiu-Jitsu student, and to be a part of helping to write the history for future generations. I am only the third woman to reach blue belt in our school, and I can honestly say that our class keeps getting better (and bigger) all the time. I think we have a bright future ahead of us, and I am excited to keep watching us grow.