This week: Seishin Mizu Ryu Tatakai Jutsu.
Leicester Jiu Jitsui Club train at the YMCA in Leicester at 7.30 on Thursdays. [http://leicesterjj.co.uk/?page=about_us ] After my exciting and exhausting session of Kung Fu (and my barely fading new "Kung Fruises") last week I wasn't sure what to expect from Jiu Jitsu, I confess to being pretty ignorant about this martial art, believing it to be a bit like Judo and Aikido combined. When I arrive I'm warmly welcomed by Nish, the senpei, who, like most instructors I have met so far, assures me that his style is the one that "draws the best from all of the Martial Arts". We are joined soon after by two chaps, a yellow and a green belt and after the obligatory form-filling, we get out the mats to cover the dance floor and the class begins. Nish, our instructor, doesn't seem too put-out, or surprised that he has only three jitsu-ka in his session.
The warm up is hard and fast, press ups, sits ups, burpees, star jumps and stretching, with lots of running around the mats. This progresses to a few rounds of a warm up sparring game, where we try to tap our opponents without being caught ourselves, this is a free-for-all, one versus many game which gets us thinking about attack and defence before the class-proper begins.
Half of the regular class (the yellow belt) has a grading due on Tuesday so Nish works with me demonstrating basic locks and defences, whilst these are made more complex with finishes and throws for the others. In the 90 minutes that follow I learn effective escapes and defences from wrist and head grabs, some I'm familiar with, and some that are completely new, but they all work and are demonstrated with a good balance of explanation and support. Towards the end of the class I begin to run through some simple break-falls from kneeling. Whilst I'm no stranger to falling over (and have done so quite spectacularly on several occasions) there is something really difficult about falling over on a prescribed side, at a prescribed time. Unfortunately I am still incapable of falling over on request, and completely fail to land as required, although near the end I do manage some quite funky cage rolls.
There was something very comforting about the use of Japanese in the class and being a step ahead in understanding the Dachis, Ukes and Tsukis but the almost exclusive focus on defence is quite a change if you're used to Karate. It was a shame that the class was so small but Nish is a very confident and accomplished teacher, and as a 1st Ryu, more so than many black belts I've seen. From a brief chat about grading syllabus, and from watching what's expected of the yellow and green belts it's obvious that the knowledge and skill required to grade is in excess of that for some Martial Arts clubs, and Nish spoke about a wide range of local and national events for the estyle leaving me with a very positive feeling about the quality of this club, which also trains with the universiaty during term time.
Personally, I don't think Jiu Jitsu is for me; the up close and personal style is great for self-defence but I feel I want more than just throwing and grappling. I would recommend Leicester Jiu Jitsu to anyone looking for self defence or confidence as their motivators for joining a Martial Art, or if they want to avoid training with youngsters, as Leicester JJ has an over 16s only policy. Plus, if Nish is an example of a brown belt, the instruction of the seniors must be excellent.