Rothwell member, Hannah, wrote a school paper about our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class:


The smell of defense soap and musty gi surrounds me as the door swings shut.  The medicinal smell reminds me of how strictly clean the gym is always kept.  Jennifer’s soft and gentle voice invites me into her gym.  Small children giggle and squeal as Gilmar’s thick Brazilian accent welcomes me back to class once again.  My shoes slide off, begging for air.  With a skip in my step, my feet carry me towards the mats.  Walking around the cage, a booming voice echoes through the gym; he’s a mountain of a man at six foot five, and over two hundred seventy pounds.  It is Jen’s husband Ben, the other owner and fourth-ranked UFC Heavyweight in the world.  Ben smiles and asks how I am doing.  He wanders around the gym like a giant teddy bear, despite his UFC career.

Everyone steps onto the squishy sponge mat drenched in disinfectant, before solemnly bowing to show respect.  Students, dressed like knights in their armor, stand ready for class.  Suddenly, we hear master Gilmar’s booming voice telling us it’s time to work.  All the students fall into sync as the warm-up ritual begins.  Silently sitting in a circle, students are amazed by the simplicity of some of Gilmar’s moves.

Students silently migrate to each other like butterflies to the south.  As my hands slide for a choke, it feels as if I just ran them under water.  Gilmar paces the mats studying and perfecting each students’ moves individually.  The screeching noise tells us it’s time for war.  Slap, boom, goes my new opponent’s hand against mine.  For a long five minutes, we are at war- attacking and defending chokes, arm bars, mounts, and side control. If you are luck enough to line up with a member of the fight team or a higher end belt, the whole five minutes is spent protecting yourself and defending.  Any attacks or submission attempts against these high level fighters usually end with a defeated tap, signifying you admit you are in mortal danger.  These rolls are also where you learn the most.  My throat is sandpaper as I gasp for air.  Once again, the screeching noise tells us it’s time to go home.  My muscles tighten as I walk from the mats, and my body tells me it was a good day.