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New Mexico Jiu-Jitsu Academy Teaches Self Defense for the Real World

By S. Mathur

There are five aspects of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ) - striking, clinches and takedowns, surprise defense techniques, ground grappling and philosophy - and the New Mexico Jiu-Jitsu Academy teaches them all. For students, learning Gracie JiuJitsu is about learning self defense, but also much more. It offers aerobic exercise, builds confidence, self-esteem and discipline, and offers a challenge. Add in the camaraderie of the Academy, and you have a winner.

Gracie JiuJitsu is derived from Japanese JiuJitsu, but differs from it in several important ways. Justin Hall, Professor, explains that "It evolved from Japanese jiujitsu to Japanese Judo to GJJ. Judo has a heavier focus on throwing an opponent with a little emphasis on ground control while GJJ is essentially the other way around." Most practitioners focus on the ground grappling aspect, which was developed in Brazil by the Gracie family.

The benefits of practicing GJJ, says Hall, are numerous: "The most obvious would be the ability to learn how to defend yourself and the self confidence that comes along with that knowledge. An increase in both aerobic and anaerobic physical fitness is also a very nice benefit that comes along with the training. Also since training at a GJJ academy is a social environment there is a great sense of camaraderie and friendship that people build together so for many it's like a second family!"

Students also comment on the family-friendly atmosphere at the Academy, which includes everyone from kids to professional fighters. Hall says that what's unique about the Academy is "...that we are the only academy in New Mexico that teaches all 5 aspects of Gracie JiuJitsu and whose major focus is to teach everyone who walks in the door how defend themselves against a bigger, stronger opponent. Most other academies put a larger emphasis on the sportive aspect of JiuJitsu."

Classes are open to students of all ages, from 4 years of age to 80, and skill levels. Programs include Adult Gracie JiuJitsu, Kids' Martial Arts, Kodokan Judo, Executive Self Defense, Wing Chun Kung Fu and Muay Thai Kickboxing. For beginners who are not sure where to start or even if they want to start, the Academy offers a free trial period. For ten days, adults and kids can join in any classes. They are provided uniforms and other equipment necessary.

Many parents enroll their children to help then develop the skills and self-confidence to overcome bullying in school, and are pleasantly surprised by the results. Students testimonials speak warmly of the instructors, their expertise and the support they offer to students. While Hall's official title is Professor, based on his level in GJJ, he's mostly called Khru, which means Teacher of Muay Thai Kickboxing.

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