Self-defense, exercise, fun, and community are just a few of the things Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) has to offer, and now they can be found right here on campus.
In the middle of the spring 2022 semester, Jackson Feld and Kyle Weeks started a BJJ club on campus as president and vice president, respectively. They founded the club to give a cheaper and more convenient option to themselves and others who train in BJJ and attend the University of Memphis.
“We wanted to open a club here at Memphis because we had a lot of people participating in Jiu-Jitsu who weren’t able to make it to their gym,” said Weeks, vice president and a senior social work major. “I live 20 minutes away from where I train, so having to drive alongside work and school is difficult at times to make it there and train. So, we thought, if we open up a club here and have mat times, you can come in and train whenever.”
The club has a $50 membership fee for the semester that goes toward bringing local black belts in to teach their self-defense seminars. They hosted two last semester, with 10-15 people new to BJJ attending each. The average combat sports gym costs $110-115 monthly or more.
People with no experience in BJJ are welcome in the club. However, they would need to attend a couple of classes before being allowed to roll, the term for sparring in BJJ.
“We do accommodate for new people who have never had a class before; it’s a bit of a lengthy process learning the basics,” said Feld, president and senior studying engineering technology. “If you attend four classes, two weeks worth, and learn the basics at that point, you would be able to start getting rolls with some people.”
“Students who do not have experience and/or are not a member of a local Jiu Jitsu gym are absolutely welcome to join the club and see what Jiu Jitsu is all about,” said Drew Garth, faculty advisor to the club and BJJ practitioner.
Students have expressed a growing interest in BJJ because of its exercise and self-defense benefits. They have also voiced their support for a club like this existing on campus.
“I would be interested in learning Brazilian Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” said Tierra Lee, a freshman marketing major. “Since so many things can happen around here, it would be a natural thing to be taught on campus.”
As a martial art, it is one of the best self-defense techniques to learn, while simultaneously being a full body workout.
“It’s rewarding to know that the techniques that you learn work against an opponent who is fully resisting,” Garth said. “Having a club makes Jiu-Jitsu available to a wider audience and lowers the barrier to entry for a lot of folks.”
Eventually, the club hopes to become an official club sport so that they can attend and compete in competitions. Money from the club dues would also go toward that end.
“We want to transition to an official club sport, that will depend on the new leadership,” Feld said. “Once that happens, the money from the club would need to go toward transportation to tournaments in the midsouth area.”
If you are interested in the club, feel free to contact Feld or Weeks at their office in the student involvement zone or by email at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.