A few Quebec schools captured the news cycle this winter, with their experiments in supervised “rough play” areas at recess and lunch. Willing students were allowed to shove, wrestle and roll about together in the snow in supervised areas.
It’s unknown if the pilot projects will fade away when the snow melts — but for the kids who enjoyed the experience, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu might be the next step.
Hope resident and purple-belt instructor, Christian Paauwe (“POW-ah”) started his classes after Christmas this year and they have caught on quickly, with kids from age 7 to 18 and with adult males. Paauwe is considering a women-only class, to break them into the sport.
A recent visit to Paauwe’s teen training session in the rec centre’s conference room showed that supervised, respectful rough play has strong appeal among the students.
“They see it as a great, safe place to have fun, get a good workout and learn to protect themselves,” said Paauwe, who came from a fitness training background before stepping into this martial art when he was living in Japan, more than six years ago. Now he has opened the Pacific Top Team, Hope BC chapter, part of a growing group of affiliated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu clubs in the province.
Paauwe has developed a timer system through his iPhone, to lay out the plan of each training session. The stages are displayed in real-time on a TV monitor and lively background music helps set the tempo.
“It keeps us on-pace and on-time,” said Paauwe of his timer. “We try not to let those heart rates go down.
“Original Jiu-Jitsu was formed by the Samurai, for how to counter an opponent who has a small weapon or no weapon,” said the instructor. “It’s a non-striking martial art.”
The Brazilian form started with the Gracie family, of Brazil, who enhanced the on-the-ground aspects of the sport, said Paauwe.
“Ninety-five per cent of fights end up on the ground,” said Paauwe. Even if your (untrained) opponent is bigger and stronger, he said, “Once we’re on the ground, that person becomes the minnow and we become the shark.”
Sounds serious — and it might be, if the student ever had to use their skills in a real-life situation. In training, though, safety and respect are paramount.
“We grapple, wrestle, do take-downs and submission holds,” explained Paauwe, “but your partner learns to ‘tap out’ to be safe. It’s a small touch on the opponent’s body to signal ‘that’s enough.’ ”
In amongst the instruction and serious practice, Paauwe includes competitive games that are serious fun.
Training sessions are Mondays and Thursdays after school for kids and teens and Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7:00 for adults.
Registration is $75 per month for kids and teens and $90 for adults, who get 1.5-hour sessions.
“You do have to have a gi to take part,” added Paauwe. “If they commit for three months, I give them $100 off a $140 gi.”
Facebook users can check out the Pacific Top Team, Hope BC group and Paauwe can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. Other queries or registrations can be made at the Rec Centre’s reception desk.