Grappling, sparring and ground fighting — all can be found in the mixed martial art of jiu-jitsu. Though its inception dates back to 1882, this combat sport has recently found a place at the University of Toledo.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Club was started last week by third-year exercise science student Jason Olree and fifth-year economics student Patrick McPhillips.
“Personally, I intend to teach jiu-jitsu for the rest of my life,” Olree said. “It’s where I want my career field to end up, and what better place to start than here?”
Both Olree and McPhillips, the president and vice president, have backgrounds in various contact sports, including mixed martial arts, boxing and tae kwon do.
Olree said his interest in mixed martial arts started his senior year of high school.
“Originally I wanted to get into boxing and stuff like that,” he said, “but for medical reasons I wasn’t able to. That’s when I stumbled onto jiu-jitsu and fell in love with the intricacy of it and how complex it is.”
Olree said jiu-jitsu helps students develop a moral code they can use in any situation, not just when fighting.
“You can apply jiu-jitsu to almost anything in life,” he said.
On the other hand, McPhillips found jiu-jitsu fulfilled his desire to find a more competitive sport.
“When I was younger, I did tae kwon do and stuff, but I didn’t really like it,” McPhillips said.
Instead, he was looking for something with a bit more physical contact.
“When I got older, I did wrestling for a bit,” McPhillips said, “until some off-season injuries kept me out of it. In high school I found MMA, and competed once in the cage before coming to college.”
According to McPhillips, his obvious skills in grappling and submission techniques led him to decide to pursue Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Grappling refers to techniques, maneuvers and counters applied to an opponent in order to gain a physical advantage, such as improving position or escaping.
Chase Helmick, a third-year mechanical engineering student and member, said he was excited to join so he could learn some self-defense without having to travel far or pay expensive membership fees.
“I’m glad I don’t have to go off-campus to learn,” Helmick said.
Not all club members joined to learn though. Some students just wanted to have fun or get some exercise.
“I really appreciate what they did to put this club together,” said Nathan Young, a fourth-year psychology student and member. “It’s good to have a great time and learn at the same time.”
Chris Clay, a member and fourth-year majoring in computer science agreed that the club is extremely fun, but also said it’s an intense workout.
“You burn hundreds of calories,” Clay said.
Despite their various reasons for joining, all the members wanted to have fun interacting with other students like themselves.
“I like that we go straight into new material, and when you do it with people you know, it’s a lot of fun,” said Eric Bondarenko, a first-year civil engineering student.
Olree said he and McPhillips teach the members jiu-jitsu techniques with the main emphasis on safety, making sure each student understands the concept so they don’t accidentally injure each other.
Because they are a brand new organization, the club doesn’t participate in any tournaments or competitions, but Olree said that once they become more active and gain more members, public competition is something they strive for in the future.