MARISA BERNER ’21
Around three times a week, a bunch of people congregate in the wrestling room on campus to practice and learn jiu jitsu, a form of martial arts. Jiu jitsu, as described by the head of the club, Joseph Orosco, is a self-defense based martial art that employs a mixture of throwing, joint locking or restraining, defending from armed attackers, and effective striking on armed and unarmed opponents. The club on campus was founded six years ago by Keri Buckland, and has only grown in popularity since. The type of jiu jitsu that they practice is called Shorinji Kan jiu jitsu, which is a United Kingdom based twist on the traditional Japanese jiu jitsu. Typically, countries practice using their own syllabus, which is the names of the throws, locks, and holds, as well as the what you need to be able to do to obtain each belt. However, this club is one of only two that practice this form of jiu jitsu in the United States, the club practices using the Canadian syllabus of this style. Their senpai, Katherine Feehan, is a Trinity alum herself, having joined the club six years ago. Nowadays, she’s a brown belt, the second highest belt, which means she’s advanced enough to be allowed to have her own studio and to train others who aren’t as advanced as her.
As jiu jitsu is a type of self-defense, there are a lot of practical applications for it, but there are many more reasons why someone would choose to join, whether it be just an interest in learning martial arts or for the social aspect of it. Some people might even partake in jiu jitsu even just as an unusual and entertaining alternative to the gym. As well as being a combination of physical exercise and strengthening techniques, the sport also incorporates a combo of throws, locks of wrists, arms, or legs, thereby simultaneously helping people stay active and safe. In fact, one of the first things that they teach a new member is how to not get hurt, so how to fall or roll properly, so that the risk of getting injured is greatly diminished.
One of the club’s members, Ansel Burn, initially joined because one of his friends was a member and encouraged him to come try it out. He acquiesced, attended a few practices, and enjoyed it so much that he kept doing it even after his friend stopped going. Now a green belt, he states that one of the best parts of being a member is that he keeps learning how to do stuff he believes he shouldn’t be able to do, such as partial flips and handstands (both of which he can now do).
Both Orosco and Burn, however, both cite the friendships they’ve formed due to the club as one of their primary reasons they love being a member of the club. Orosco, who initially joined due to an interest in learning martial arts, says that it’s one of the greatest parts about being a member, and that after spending two hours throwing each other around, it’s commonplace for the club to go to the cave to eat and chat. This is reminiscent of what jiu jitsu clubs do in the UK, where they train and then go to a pub to drink and socialize, making it a great place for people to come together and socialize as well as learning self-defense tactics and staying fit. Because of this, the club has many inside jokes and memorable stories, such as the time that a Trinity student who’s now graduated was getting tossed into the air, which is a birthday tradition in the club, and flew up into the ceiling. Luckily, she was safely caught by other members of the club, and it’s now one of the club’s most memorable stories.
Orosco in particular believes that one of the best parts of the sport is how little it matters how strong or tall someone is, as jiu jitsu is one of those sports where body type plays a very small factor in regard to the level of skill a member has.
Since Canada has more Shorinji Kan jiu jitsu clubs than the United States does, every once in a while, the members will make a trip up to go to a competition or a seminar, where they meet with other clubs, and talk with black belts who show them techniques and exercises that they wouldn’t have been able to learn otherwise. Additionally, at least once a semester, they hold a grading, which is an opportunity for anyone who wishes to move to the next belt up to do so.
Both Burn and Orosco hope that the club will continue to be a place for students to get together, learn self-defense, and have a good time with their peers both on and off the mats. As to the future of the club, Burn hopes to see the club expand and become more popular, as well as heading up to Canada for more tournaments or seminars in the future in order to better connect with other clubs and people. They meet every Monday, Wednesday from 7:30-9:30 pm and Saturday from 1:30-3:30 pm in the wrestling room at Ferris. Any potential members are more than welcome to drop by.