“Jiu-jitsu is for everyone, but not everyone is for jiu-jitsu, “ said Cliff Hargrave, instructor of one of the only four training classes in Southeast Texas.

The classes require hard work, effort and dedication but the point of them is to enforce personal development and self-defense.

Hargrave began his interest in martial arts when he was 13 years old, but in 1996 began to include Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Hargrave earned his black belt in 2011. To obtain a black belt, there are stringent requirements and it is a lengthy process.

Hargrave has a full time job as a captain at the Orange Police Department, but says he does Jiu-jitsu because he “loves it.” The jiu-Jitsu community may be small, but there is a camaraderie like none other.

“There are three attributes to Jiu-jitsu,” Hargrave said. “They are mental, physical and technical.”

Brazilian jiu-jitsu  is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system which focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. BJJ promotes the concept a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique and taking the fight to the ground.

Jiu-Jitsu came to international prominence in the martial arts community in the early 1990s, when Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Royce Gracie won the first, second and fourth Ultimate Fighting Championships, which at the time were single elimination martial arts tournaments.

Gracie, who is small in stature, often fought against much larger opponents who were practicing other styles, including boxing, shoot-fighting, Muay Thai, karate, wrestling, judo and tae kwon do.

It has since become a staple art for many Mixed Martial Arts fighters and is largely credited for bringing widespread attention to the importance of ground fighting, according to Hargrave.

“Five of the current UFC champions have jiu-jitsu backgrounds,” Hargrave said.

Under the teachings of Gracie, Hargrave teaches a class of about 25 adults with ages ranging from 15 through their 40s. He has also recently started a class for children ages six through 12. Gracie travels all over the world, but has been known to come to Orange as well.

Those who may think they are too small  or too big to compete or participate in BJJ,  need only to try.

It has been said, most of the advantage of a larger, stronger opponent comes from superior reach and more powerful strikes, both of which are mitigated when grappling on the ground, Brazilian jiu-jitsu emphasizes getting an opponent to the ground in order to utilize ground fighting techniques and submission holds involving joint-locks and choke holds. On the ground, physical strength can be offset or enhanced by an experienced grappler who knows how to maximize force using mechanical strength instead of pure physical strength.

BJJ permits a wide variety of techniques to take the fight to the ground after taking a grip. While other combat sports, such as Judo and Wrestling almost always use a take down to bring an opponent to the ground, in BJJ one option is to “pull guard.” This entails obtaining some grip on the opponent and then bringing the fight or match onto the mat by sitting straight down or by jumping and wrapping their legs around the opponent.

Once the opponent is on the ground, a number of maneuvers and counter-maneuvers are used to manipulate the opponent into a suitable position for the application of a submission technique, according to Hargrave.

A recent student of Hargrave’s, D.J. Vann, participated in a Jiu-Jitsu competition and won gold medals.

Another of Hargrave’s students, Jeremiah Gunter,  has earned a purple belt with one stripe and won several MMA cage fights in 2009. He stopped competing for a while, but has recently restarted his training and hopes to be competing again in about a year. In addition, there are other students with goals of competing as well.

Classes have different skill levels and are on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. There are openings for additional people to join the class. For more information call 409-670-3755.