Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Jiu Jitsu, which is said to date back all the way to the 3rd and 8th Centuries in India and China, respectively, is a grappling themed martial art that relies on leverage to bring an opponent to the ground. Once on the ground the main premise of Jiu Jitsu is to apply positional control that leads to submission, most commonly chokes or joint locks. By the end of the 19th Century, the martial art had become a means for self-defense and was widely popularized by a man by the name of Mitsuya Maeda. Maeda was recognized for fighting any willing opponent just to prove the effectiveness and efficiency of his martial art.

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After traveling the world teaching and spreading Jiu Jitsu, Maeda finally made his way to Brazil in the early 1900’s and changed the face of fighting forever. Maeda, once in Brazil, began teaching his Jiu Jitsu and spreading it to many people throughout the country, one family that took great notice was the Gracie family. Carlos Gracie, as well as his younger brother Helio Gracie, are widely acknowledged as the pioneers of contemporary Jiu Jitsu. The Gracie Brothers began to adapt the techniques taught by Maeda into a finely polished, leverage based art that can now be practiced and perfected by everyone, weak or strong. Because of the popularization of Jiu Jitsu in Brazil during the beginning of the 20th Century, the art is most commonly known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ. One Grandson to Carlos was Renzo Gracie, who proved to be a promising athlete of the Gracie family. Due to his incredible talent in the art as well as his charismatic and passionate personality, Renzo quickly became the top Gracie representing the family in Jiu Jitsu tournaments and later became a world renowned MMA fighter. Carrying the Gracie name, Renzo eventually moved to the United States, residing and opening his first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in New York City. Because of his great fighting skills, personality and strong ability to teach others, Renzo’s school began to flourish which eventually lead to Renzo becoming the leading force of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the United States. As Renzo’s name grew more and more internationally, many martial artists took notice. One such martial artist was Professor Shawn Williams. Already a Black Belt in Karate, Professor Williams, upon seeing Renzo fight in an MMA tournament, made the decision to leave his home town of Bluffton Indiana to further his pursuit of knowledge in martial arts now with a strong focus on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. With great dedication and discipline towards learning the art, Professor Williams was able to reach the rank of Black Belt in BJJ under the legendary Renzo Gracie, a task that very few before him had accomplished. Along his journey, Professor Williams became a fierce name on the BJJ competition ciruit, earning many titles along the way and making quite the name for himself amongst the BJJ scene. More than that, he was given the opportunity to teach alongside his Master, Renzo, and started his career as an instructor that would eventually lead him to become recognized as one the greatest and detailed teachers of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the world has seen. Professor Williams eventually made his way to Los Angeles, California where he then opened LA’s premier academy of martial arts, 5 Star Martial Arts.

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The Journey

The decision to start training martial arts is frequently a combination of excitement and nerves. People who are unfamiliar with martial arts often think they will walk into a lion’s den of sorts, ready to fight for their lives. At 5 Star Martial Arts nothing could be further from the truth! Just a few steps into our facility the friendly greetings of both staff and students alike make it clear you’re in the right place.

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Each new student’s first class at 5 Star is a special one-on-one lesson designed to be an informative introduction to the martial arts we teach and done in the positive manner in which we do all things at 5 Star. This first lesson is a great chance to get to know the instructor and vice versa so the student’s specific goals are understood and worked toward. Everyone’s goals are different. Perhaps you want to improve your fitness level by burning off some fat and putting on some muscle? Maybe you’re more interested in self defense? Maybe stress relief? Whatever your goals may be, once we set a course we can achieve them and surpass them. This is a big part of what we do and why people love it here so much. Every journey starts with the first step and the first step in martial arts is the white belt. At many schools a student’s time spent at white belt is a period of confusion and frustration due to unfamiliarity with the movements. At 5 Star Martial Arts this is most definitely not the case. We see the time at white belt as the perfect opportunity to instill the essential defensive and offensive skills with fun, fluid training drills as well as improve the student’s fitness level. Building both of these areas paves the way for the more challenging training awaiting the student down the road and we encourage our students to maintain the open-minded “white belt mentality” that will pay dividends in training and everyday life. One does not remain a white belt forever. With time and consistent training comes a better understanding of jiu jitsu and before long you will want to make the techniques learned in class actually work while sparring. In jiu jitsu, sparring is called “randori” or “rolling” and is an exciting and incredibly FUN experience where you get to put your techniques to the test! The improvisational nature of rolling can be a bit risky, especially for new students but we do not throw people into the deep end to fight for their lives like many schools. Frequent training is great, but not an end in and of itself. The best way to make real progress is to have goals and we regularly encourage our students to set goals and work toward them. Different people will have different goals. Whether you want to get in better shape, improve your coordination, lose weight, perfect your technique or get better at sparring, everything can be achieved if you set the goal and have a positive environment in which to flourish. No matter whether your challenge today is mental, physical or emotional, a positive martial arts training environment is the best way to get you out of your head and focused on the task at hand, especially with help from those around you. We go through life as individuals but can accomplish so much more as a team. At 5 Star we view our classmates as teammates rather than opponents. Teammates don’t beat each other down, they lift each other up. When you’re having a hard time you can count on your teammates to keep pushing you forward just like you will help them when they’re having it rough. This team approach is the foundation of our success at helping people meet and surpass their goals and affect lasting positive changes in their lives.

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Ranking System

At 5 Star Martial Arts we follow the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt rankings that are provided by The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation(IBJJF), the main governing body for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The five major belts that practitioners will earn are the White Belt, Blue Belt, Purple Belt, Brown Belt and finally the Black Belt.

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At 5 Star, to help those just starting in BJJ, we have developed our own unique system designed especially for the beginning athlete to ensure the student progresses quickly, but most importantly, does not fall off with their training and sticks with their goals. Our white belt system is different from others, as we have three stages of white belt before one reaches the rank of Blue Belt, which has proven to help beginning practitioners navigate past the trials and tribulations that sometimes occur at the start of a BJJ journey. The students travel through each beginning belts while learning the valuable fundamental skills that each practitioner must know when learning BJJ, all the while staying highly focused and motivated to continue on their journey. Following the White Belt system, one will then go on to reach level of Blue Belt, followed by Purple, Brown then Black belt, all which are consistent with the IBJJF requirements.

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The Uniforms

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the practitioners most commonly wear a uniform that is similar to many other types of martial arts. A gi, or kimono, which is made of durable cotton with long pants and long sleeves, very similar to the judo gi. Some say that the Jiu Jitsu gi stems all the way back to the ancient days of the Samurai in Japan where the Samurai learned Jiu Jitsu as a form of hand-to-hand combat when they were disarmed. The Samurai would then rely on gripping onto the opponent’s armor or uniform which would allow him to the execute takedowns or throws as well as submission holds that would help to defeat the opposition.
As Jiu Jitsu became a martial art that more and more people practiced for self defense, the Samurai armor became an inefficient training tool being so large and heavy that the uniform was eventually adapted into the cotton style of gi that would be friendlier for the everyday man to practice their techniques. The grappling and gripping of the uniform still remain today and are a huge part of BJJ. In addition to the traditional gi, practitioners will also wear a “no-gi” uniform which consists of athletic shorts or pants but not jacket of the gi, which is generally replaced by an athletic style of shirt. No-gi training and competition differs mainly by eliminating the grips on the actual material of the uniform. This is most commonly see today in MMA events, and No Gi grappling events. Being of the Renzo Gracie lineage, we feel very strongly that both must be practiced to reach your full grappling potential.

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