Every week we send a member of the Urban Sports Club team to try out the weird and wonderful sports you can access as a USC member. This week we dove into the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the self-defence martial art that involves a lot of grappling, grabbing and ground-fighting…
What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a non-violent martial art which focuses on grappling and ground-fighting, with the aim of forcing your opponent into submission.
Fenriz Trainingzentrum is a martial arts studio located in Berlin. Founded in 2010, the studio focuses on fighter training, specifically Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, boxing and functional training.
What can you expect?
Fenriz Trainingzentrum is a down-to-earth, gritty and functional gym located in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. The space consists of a large workout area with a padded floor where the classes take place.
Because the gym hosts a variety of different sports there’s lots of equipment – punch bags, weights, bars and a multi-purpose fighting ring. The gym has a real community atmosphere; I heard the trainers greeting people by name and introducing themselves to new members.
How was the workout?
We started with a straight forward cardio warm up, after which we had to do somersaults over one shoulder. This looked quite dramatic and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it but Gabrielle, our teacher, walked me through the whole thing (I was last so I had to do it in front of the entire class which was borderline nightmarish but everyone was very supportive.)
Although I’d done some research on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I didn’t realise quite how much grappling, dragging and fighting it would entail. This sport is high-contact and physical. As we started partner exercises I realised I was about to get all up in some armpits.
These exercises involved lots of hooking your feet around your partner and being dragged and/or pushed from one side of the room to the other. Limbs and hips were manoeuvred in specific BJJ ways to warm-up for the actual fighting later.
At one point we were instructed to simply fall over backwards which, again, seemed terrifying, but after Gabrielle showed me how to land properly it was actually very fun.
And this was only the warm-up. Gabrielle then showed us how to effectively throw each other on to the ground. This involved grabbing your partners Gi (these are the white martial arts clothes you wear) and throwing them on the ground. “You need to blow them out like a sheet,” Gabrielle said. My partner did this to me and I collapsed into a heap immediately.
However after practising back and forth I slowly began to improve and was able to keep my balance. Soon I got used to the physical side of it and felt less shy being partnered with different people.
After we’d finished throwing each other on the floor it was time to actually do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The sport is a form of self-defence and is a relatively non-violent martial art. It’s all about hooking your feet and elbows and knee joints in and around each other in order to unbalance and defeat them.
We did 5 rounds of fighting of about 5 minutes each. I was surprised by how much leg strength it took to hook myself around someone; it got real sweaty real quick.
After about 30 minutes of grappling with various partners I was completely exhausted. When time was up we all got into a line and bowed to each other. Martial arts is all about sportsmanship and respect; as Bruce Lee once said, “To be a martial artist means to be an artist of life.”
How did I feel after?
Exhausted and sweaty. My legs hurt a lot from all the hooking and crouching and my shoulders were achey too. This is the first sport I’ve tried which involves actual physical contact. I felt like I’d got in touch with the competitive side of sports which was mentally as well as physically exhilarating.
Benefits of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
BJJ is a form of self-defense. Although I don’t often need to grapple on the floor with an enemy, it’s a useful skill to have
It’s excellent for flexibility; the form forces your body into unusual positions
In general it’s great physical training – it improves fitness, strength and increases your heart rate
Great for stress-release and improved concentration
Don’t forget to bring…
Different classes require different gear. This class required Gi, however Fenriz Trainingzentrum has several BJJ classes that require no Gi. Lockers are available only for long-term hire, and bring water and a towel if you plan to shower.
For a full list of classes, events and workshops check out the Fenriz Trainingzentrum website.