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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Club Brazilian jiu-jitsu sustaining success under tutelage of experienced coach

Photo by Mikey Severson

It was a social media post that led Chris Martin to find the Marquette club Brazilian jiu-jitsu team.

“Somebody in the club had posted ‘We need a coach,’ I don’t remember if it was Craigslist or LinkedIn, but a friend of mine sent that over to me,” Martin said. “I called up the club right away, introduced myself, we hit it off and it’s been a great time working with the club.”

Martin, a Marquette alum who graduated in 2001, has been the head coach of the club since 2017. Before that he served as a manager of Nova Gyms, a company of martial arts fitness centers in Milwaukee. 

Martin said the club has “the best training partners” because everyone is of similar age and experience. 

“The group has the best training partners, for the most part, everyone’s the same age and experience. “Compared to if you start your jiu-jitsu journey at a random gym, you may be the only white belt there for two or three months, and then somebody else shows up,” Martin said. 

“But here, everyone’s a white belt from day one, they learn and grow together, and it’s a very fast learning and achieving environment. Because of that, we’ve fared well in competitions.”

The team meets three times a week in the basement of Schroeder Hall. They practice on Mondays from 8:00-9:30 p.m., additionally on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00-8:30 p.m. 

Typically, the club introduces a new technique at the start of practice, they get a feel for it and they perfect what they learned at the end of practice.

“Often times we’ll start out the day with a new move, we’ll start doing a lot more live drilling toward the latter half of practice,” Ian Hansen, a first-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “At the end of practice, we’ll go up through the line, then we do some live round-robin at the end where you get to pick whomever you want (to go up against).”

The main difference between jiu-jitsu and other forms of martial arts is that in jiu-jitsu, the combatants are ground fighting, using leverage to defend themselves against their opponent, rather than utilizing striking motions such as punches and kicks.

Club president Benny Gustafson, a junior in the College of Business Administration, says that there is a lot more strategy in jiu-jitsu compared to wrestling, a sport he did in high school. 

“Wrestling is a lot more fast-paced and explosive, jiu-jitsu is like a game of chess, there’s a lot more defenses and counters to each move,” Gustafson said. “While strength still matters, what we learn in jiu-jitsu is using the opponent’s momentum against them.”

First-year in the College of Business Administration, P.J. Wisniewski, joined the team because of his interest in mixed martial arts, and he said he cherishes the new community he is now a part of. 

“I have a little bit of grappling experience, I didn’t wrestle in high school, but I’m the biggest mixed martial arts fan in the world,” Wisniewski said. “I found this club at O-Fest, and instantly I was hooked. First practice, I was here, and I try to go to every practice I can.

“It’s fun having a group of guys outside your dorm, seeing these guys across campus, it’s fun seeing them outside of the mats.”

Martin said the skills that the students learn from the club and organization are extremely valuable at this stage of life.

“Most importantly, the team, leadership and business building aspects of this club,” Martin said. “You’re going to learn a lot of everyday tactics you’re going to need to open any small business if you’re on e-board.

“From an everyday person standpoint, enjoying time with the club and getting away from schoolwork is most rewarding,” 

This article was written by Mikey Severson. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @MikeySeversonMU.

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About the Contributor
Mikey Severson
Mikey Severson, Sports Reporter
Mikey Severson is a first year from Saint Charles, Illinois studying journalism and minoring in sports management. He is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. At St. Charles East High School, he played football, tennis and managed the boys' basketball team. Outside of the Wire, he enjoys professional football, playing tennis, trying new foods and meeting new people. He is excited to cover Marquette athletics, go to games and interview players & coaches post-game.

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