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Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a lot like chess, according to Dr Lance Redman of Baldivis Vet Hospital in WA, except you can end up with fractured ribs.
“While Japanese jiu-jitsu is a form of self-defence, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is more of a sport. There’s a lot of grappling and much of it takes place on the ground. There’s also some judo crossover in regard to the take-downs.
“I first became interested in martial arts at high school where I used to do a bit of Muay Thai. When I was doing my veterinary degree, I got sidetracked from everything but study. I started Brazilian jiu-jitsu about 18 months ago and took part in my first competition this year. The object is to submit your opponent through joint locks, chokes and similar holds. Some competitions are points based where certain positions are considered dominant, and more points are awarded.
“When you compete, your opponent is putting pressure on you all the time. If you move in certain situations or they come down harder than you expect, you’re liable to get injured. Leading into my first competition last year, I fractured a few ribs. That’s why I had to wait until this year to compete. The longer you do the training, the less you get injured—your body gets acclimatised to the stresses.
“The sport seems to be growing in popularity and we have about 60 people at our gym. It’s also a skill that would be very useful as self-defence in a real-world situation. Thankfully, I’ve never been in that position.
“For the past 12 months, I’ve been training twice a week. The first type of training is called NoGi and I wear a rash guard and shorts. There is also Gi training where we wear kimonos. The sessions last for two hours and are a mix of technique and competition training with situational drills and free rolling. It’s a tiring workout. My fitness level has increased dramatically since I started Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
“It’s also a very technical sport, almost like a type of chess. You need to think moves ahead and I like that aspect of it. Something like boxing would soon bore me—you’re literally just hitting a bag over and over. Brazilian jiu-jitsu requires complex thought processes and a lot of technical skills.
“I always look forward to training. It’s a great workout and the camaraderie among the people who train is huge. It’s also a good opportunity to socialise with people outside of work. They’re from all different walks of life and it’s nice to talk about things that happen outside of a vet life.”