Marquette Wire

Jui-jitsu club seeing success year after launch

Aidan Flanagan competes at the Grappling Industries tournament in Chicago this weekend.

Photo by Marquette jiu-jitsu

Aidan Flanagan competes at the Grappling Industries tournament in Chicago this weekend.

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Aidan Flanagan, a junior in the College of Health Sciences at Marquette, has come a long way in one calendar year. In November 2015, he put the finishing touches on his brand new club, Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Now, he’s the captain and de facto head coach of 16 to 20 individuals coming off an incredibly successful weekend at the Grappling Industries Tournament in Chicago.

Two members finished in the top three in their respective divisions. Flanagan was second in the adult male, blue belt, 155-170 pound division. His teammate David Wertz, also a junior in the College of Health Sciences, was third in the adult male, white belt, 170-185 division.

“We wanted to see where our skill level was at,” Flanagan said. “A lot of the guys went down and were competing in various levels, and it was a really good showing. We all learned a lot from it.”

Throughout last Sunday’s tournament, there were about 500 competitors crammed into the Oak Lawn Park District Community Pavilion on the South Side of Chicago. Overall, more than 1,000 people fluctuated in and out before the day came to a close.

More than just having success on the mat, the jiu-jitsu club strives to have an excellent atmosphere, team dynamic and community presence. That mindset was set by Flanagan from the start.

“Every practice you should come ready to work, but it’s not like you have to be afraid or be nervous,” Flanagan said to the Wire in 2015 before the club’s launch. “Mainly, our goal is just to give people the opportunity to learn something new, make some friends and get some exercise in the process.”

His message hasn’t changed at all. He said he expects hard work, but wants a strong team environment. Omar Gomez, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences and former high school wrestler, experienced Flanagan’s teaching style first-hand when he tried ju-jitsu for the first time Thursday night.

For a majority of the practice, Flanagan patiently worked with Gomez 1-on-1 so he could understand the basics, then sent him off to roll (the jiu-jitsu word for spar) with some of his new teammates. Even though he looked exhausted after the hour and a half affair, he had no hesitation when it came to returning.

“Of course, it feels great to be sweating again,” Gomez said.

Everyone on the team loves the sport, and more importantly, they have an intense desire to improve. When Flanagan attempted to wrap up the night’s practice session, everyone begged for one more five-minute roll.

Harry Murray, a freshman in the College of Business Administration, exemplified that dedication last Tuesday. When rolling with a teammate, Murray heard a loud pop erupt from his kneecap. He grimaced in pain and hobbled off to the side. But two days later, Harry happily cheered on his team with a wrapped knee at practice, giving pointers during drills and participating in the one aspect of practice he could: a 15 minute ab circuit.

After a year, the club has stabilized on campus, but Flanagan and practice manager Eric Eastwood, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, are still looking to improve in all aspects.

“Currently, we are doing events with CHAARG, Kappa Sig, ROTC,” Flanagan said. “But, I want to see more involvement with other clubs, more service in the community and be one of the leading clubs on campus.”

“Also, I’d like to see a better practice facility,” Eastwood said. “Hopefully that will be possible with the new gym coming in.”

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