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Society Spotlight: SOAS Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

By Zaki Sarraf, LLB Law

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling martial art that focuses on the control of an opponent and leading to a submission. The martial art combines different grappling systems, including Judo, Sambo, Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, to create a complete system of taking an opponent to the ground and controlling them with technique and leverage to get a submission via chokehold, arm-lock or leg-lock.

The rising popularity of BJJ is mainly attributed to its showcase in UFC 1, whereby experts from different styles fought to ascertain what the most effective martial art is. Royce Gracie represented BJJ and despite being outweighed significantly by his opponents, he was able to defeat all of them with ease. The concept of a smaller, weaker person successfully defending themselves against a larger opponent through proper technique is personified in BJJ. When a practitioner takes an opponent to the ground, strength becomes relatively nullified and technique take precedence.

To illustrate this, take the case of a javelin thrower. The athlete must perform; a full powered sprint, a jump, a massive turning of both hips and shoulders, and a throw. All the quintessential explosive elements of the human body are involved in this throw, which allows athletes to throw javelins over ninety metres. If the javelin throwers were required to perform the same action on their knees, most throws would not pass ten metres. The closer a person gets to the ground, the less one can employ explosive force. Therefore BJJ takes away the single most dangerous element of fighting: quick dynamic movement; so it is common for a much smaller practitioner to dominate a much larger opponent through superior technique.

All the classes at SOAS are catered for beginners – regardless of fitness levels, weight, age and strength. If you do own a Gi, it would be useful to bring it for the Gi sessions, otherwise No-Gi attire is fine for all the sessions (t-shirts, shorts, tracksuits etc). However please avoid wearing clothing with extra pockets, belt loops or baggy fabric due to the risk of fingers and toes getting caught in them.

Class times:

Monday – 13:00-14:30 (Gi)

Wednesday – 13:00-14:30 (No-Gi)

Friday – 13:00-14:30 (Gi)

Saturday- 17:30-19:00 (No-Gi)

The Monday and Wednesday sessions operate through a “pay what you can model” – if finances are a problem, the £3 fee for the class will be waived. However, to continue funding the society and the instructors, the Friday and Saturday classes are £3. The average cost of classes in London is around £15, so I urge you to make use of this heavily subsidised and discounted price while you are at SOAS.

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