To the average person, jiu jitsu might not ring any bells, but for Auburn Mixed Martial Arts and Auburn Jiu Jitsu owners, jiu jitsu is more than a martial art.
Randall Phillips said he has been practicing jiu jitsu for 31 years, starting in Brazil when he was 14.
Phillips said he studied for three years at the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in Brazil. He moved to the United States when he was 17.
“Jiu Jitsu is mainly a self-defense that is based on leverage and technique,” Phillips said. “It helps a smaller opponent defeat a larger opponent.”
Phillips said he has been teaching jiu jitsu in Auburn for 25 years, and said most of jiu jitsu is ground work, or grappling.
“I fell in love with it from day one,” Phillips said. “I love the physical aspect of it, but also it’s like a chess game.”
According to Phillips, jiu jitsu is a realistic and proven martial art.
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“It was proven when the first UFC came about,” Phillips said. “Folks realized that jiu jitsu was kind of like the real deal for self-defense. It was really the UFC and MMA which made jiu jitsu well-known.”
He also said real fighting isn’t like what’s on TV.
“Folks always think of a real fight kind of like what you see in Hollywood, kind of like what you see in a Jackie Chan movie, and that’s just not reality,” Phillips said.
There are five levels in jiu jitsu: white, blue, purple, brown and black.
Phillips said it takes an average of 10- 12 years to achieve a black belt.
He also said grapples always start with a bow on and off the mat to show mutual respect.
Chad Morgan, another owner, said football player Montravius Adams came to the gym and was amazed.
“He could not do anything,” Morgan said. “He bench presses 500 pounds, now, granted he did push me up in the air, but when I came down, I was like, ‘OK, I have to take his arms out of the question.’”
Morgan said he taught self-defense classes with the university two years ago and works at Auburn now as an electrician in Facilities Management.
He also said Brazilian jiu jitsu will be introduced in the 2016 Olympics, since Brazil will be hosting.
Phillips and Andy Roberts, a third owner, are both black belts.
Roberts has been practicing jiu jitsu for 10 years.
“An old famous guy had it in an interview, he said, ‘There’s no bulls***ting in jiu jitsu,’ because no matter what you say, what you talk about, what you might think in your head, when you go out there and you slap hands, and you grapple, the truth comes out,” Roberts said.
He said jiu jitsu teaches more than selfdefense.
“It’s everything,” Roberts said. “Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations is the single most important thing for finding success in life. Overcoming adversity and dealing with struggles, that alone is huge.”
Phillips said jiu jitsu helps people with flexibility, strength and conditioning, and said it is a full body workout.
“Jiu jitsu is highly addictive,” Phillips said. “It’s not about fighting, it’s really about loving the art. If you love something, you want to share it with others.”
Phillips also said jiu jitsu isn’t violent. Instead of punching and kicking someone, a person practicing jiu jitsu can just get them on the ground and pin them.
“It’s a release of aggression in a healthy way,” Phillips said. “You never intentionally want to hurt somebody.”
Roberts said he enjoys using jiu jitsu to teach character development in kids, and said jiu jitsu provides camaraderie among opponents.
“Would you not rather say, ‘Man, my child is a hard-working, honest, good person,’ than to say, ‘My kid is a really tough fighter,’” Roberts said. “They’re lightyears apart.”
Auburn MMA placed first in Atlanta against 76 other teams this Spring in the North American Grappling Association Southeast Regional competition in jiu jitsu.
The NAGA U.S. Nationals will be Saturday, July 25, in Orange Beach. Roberts said they are taking 10 competitors.
“We’ve been training our butts off,” Roberts said.
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