News: Jiu Jitsu moves female Marines
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Jiu Jitsu means the “gentle art” and brought from Japan to Brazil by Professor Mitsuyo Maeda. Now, Jiu Jitsu is being practiced in Afghanistan.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher Diem, Regional Command (Southwest) Joint Prosecution and Exploitation Center, Criminal Investigation Department officer in charge, teaches the art of Jiu Jistsu to anyone willing to learn.
Diem, who has been practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since 2005, began his formal training of the art during 2007 at a school in Alexandria, Va. He was the director of the Miramar Submission Grappling Club from 2009 through 2011 and is currently a member of Primal Jiu Jitsu in San Diego.
“When I arrived at Camp Leatherneck, I found a group and began teaching BJJ,” said Diem.
Although Diem has competed in several tournaments, he prefers teaching rather than competing, said Diem.
Among the group were many females. They were having a difficult time benefiting from the class due to the size and weight differences with their male partners, said Diem.
The women asked if Diem could have a separate class just for them. He and Master Sgt. Eric Johnson, RC (SW) current operations chief, started the all female Jiu Jitsu class so they could actually practice what they are learning.
“I have trained with females over my entire Jiu Jitsu life. I think learning BBJ is very beneficial due to the confidence it can build and the self defense aspects of it,” said Diem. “I am very happy to be a part of training the female class and hope it grows and continues.”
“Tournaments are broken down by weight class, you would never see a 125-pound female with a 220-pound male, but that’s what we had,” said Johnson.
The class is taught a couple of times a week for about an hour and the females are receiving training appropriate for their body size and weight.
“We try to teach them to use their smaller size and speed to their advantage,” said Johnson, who taught rock climbing at his last duty station. “We start out teaching basic positions and control techniques.”
With each class, the women are advancing, learning more movements and improving their skills. Size disadvantages are no longer worrisome and they can concentrate on the forms and maneuvers of the actual art of Jiu Jitsu.
“The biggest benefit is that the women get to fight other women, this allows them to actually see how the techniques work,” said Johnson.
Each class starts with rolling and mobility exercises. The students are taught to use strength from their core and to be flexible. Because Jiu Jitsu is a form of martial arts, some women come to the class to learn self-defense. Capt. Elizabeth Laquidara, RC (SW) reports officer, attends the class for safety.
To be prepared for anything, Laquidara practices her art as if she were in a real life situation what would she do if attacked, she said. Close contact attacks may be rare but not uncommon, so the females train as they fight. They are taught how to escape chokes and think on their feet.
As the group practices moves such as the hotdog, backpack, zombie, snake and monkey, they learn side mounts and side control using strength from their hips and legs to tactically maneuver to defeat opponents of any size.
Sergeant Susan Ortiz, an RC (SW) casualty watch clerk, enjoys the class for the morale. Ortiz, who works nights, likes socializing and training with a mixture of women she would not have otherwise met. She is building friendships and improving her skills all at the same time. She feels more comfortable and less awkward practicing with women her own size, she said.
“This is a break from daily life of Afghanistan,” said Ortiz. “I am glad there is this opportunity.”
The art of Jiu Jitsu not only helps the body stay in shape, it is a way to work on improving the mindset, to think ahead, gain friendships and be flexible.