BJJ workshop with Team of Marines
By Greg Rivaldi; Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton
Learning the “Gentle Art” of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
On February 24th I had the opportunity to share one of my favorite experiences with several of my fellow Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton. Since the summer of 2015, I have trained at Excel Jiu Jitsu in Oceanside, learning “the gentle art” of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from Professor Michio Grubbs and his team of impressive coaches. In June, 2016 I assumed command of the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron (H&HS) at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton. In that position I am fortunate to lead over 300 Marines and 15 officers in our mission supporting Marine Aircraft Group 39 and the First Marine Expeditionary Unit at the Air Station.
In order to help the officers of the Air Station train, bond and compare leadership notes, the staff of officers at the Air Station will occasionally spend a Friday afternoon participating a new physical training activity together. We have climbed mountains and walls, completed a race, and generally had fun as we worked hard. In February, I took our officers on a trip to Excel Jiu Jitsu to feel and experience my personal favorite form of physical training, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, in an environment where my family and I have felt extremely welcomed and challenged over the last 18 months.
Group of Marines learn some BJJ
Professor Michio and two of his coaches, Daniel Hasbrouck and Joseph Williams, introduced Jiu Jitsu and grappling basics to ten of us through both insightful explanation and hands on demonstrations as part of a two hour workshop. A group of Marines with collective decades of combat training were quickly humbled and impressed by the expertise of Michio’s team of instructors. Simple lessons on positioning details and controlling levels of energy expenditure opened the eyes of the Marines while challenging us physically and mentally
After providing a brief introduction on the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and some simple parameters of the martial art, The Excel Jiu Jitsu team examined every Marine as an individual and showed us basic Jiu Jitsu techniques that could be applied to our individual capabilities and skills. Professor Michio demonstrated several basic positions that explained the gentle art to the Marines, then paired us up and gave us the opportunity to try the moves and positions for ourselves. The coaches fine tuned the Marines’ technique and demonstrated the advantages of getting small details in the technique correct, which could lead to dramatically improved results.
The workshop ended with the Marines sparring with both each other and the instructors in free flowing individual contests. The instructors demonstrated that physical size could both matter very little, as Joseph Williams quickly humbled several larger men, or matter immensely, as Coach Daniel Hasbrouck demonstrated how to use the body’s mass to establish and maintain dominant grappling positions.
Great Jiu Jitsu workout and a good time
For the Marines, the afternoon was a learning experience, a great workout and a good time. One Marine noted that he hadn’t worked that hard physically in years. Another noted that the technical grappling expertise of the instructors was truly surprising, and inspiring. Finally, one Marine noted that the Jiu Jitsu workshop was simultaneously humbling and confidence building.
For me, it was a rewarding opportunity to bring two important parts of my own life together and share the incredibly rewarding experience of training at Excel Jiu Jitsu with the men and women I serve with every day. I am extremely grateful that Professor Michio gave us this opportunity to train and bond together and feel like the workshop both improved our team as a group and individually.