Self-defense in the Rec Center

Participants on mount position
Instructor Chris Riojas guiding particpants

Instructor Chris Riojas guiding particpants

By Ricardo Mendez IStaff WriterI

Trying to learn some self-defense and have more flexibility? Come and attend a session of the Jiu-Jitsu class at the Student Recreation and Fitness Center (Rec Center).

Compared to other combat sports, Jiu-Jitsu focuses on self-defense.

“We don’t improve ourselves in order to fight. We fight in order to improve ourselves,” said Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo.

Jiu-Jitsu stresses using the opponent’s own strength to redirect the attack.

Robert Chris Riojas is the instructor and has a lot of experience and background.

“I’ve trained 20 years with San Bernardino, [I] am a Judo brown belt and blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” said Riojas.

Class started with some basic warm ups including shrimp crawls and forward and backward rolls all performed on mats to prevent hard falls.

Participants were not dazed when, right after warm up, they were taught the first move of the day: the Ippon Seoi Nage.

This technique is a shoulder throw in which the opponent’s elbow and bicep is trapped; your knees are bent and your body is twisted to be off balance as the opponent is then tossed.

Basic guard passes and side controls were demonstrated and then performed with a partner.

The instructor seemed committed to making sure the participants understood and properly executed techniques.

Repetition is key, after a few minutes the partners would then rotate, allowing both people the opportunity to try the move.

This and many other classes are advertised all over the Rec Center.

“I come to the gym a lot, saw the schedule and decided to try it out,” said senior Vanessa Bravo.

The class is open to all skill levels from beginners to those with some knowledge who want to improve their skills.

“The class is usually between 4-20 students; school work dictates our attendance,” said Riojas.

There were more one-on-one instructions as there was a limited amount of men and women.

Participants were sweating and were given breaks to hydrate themselves but after the break it was back to developing their skills.

Another participant did not only have experience but happened to be president of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Club on campus.

“I would recommend everybody to try it at least, so if ever in an altercation there’s [a] technical way to deal with it,” said MMA President Christian Salas.

These skills can be applied to any situation on the mat or the streets.

“It’s relaxing in the manner that even though you have someone bigger and stronger on your back, I know I’m capable of turning the page,” said Salas.

No special gear or waivers are needed but participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and have the discipline to learn first hand.

This training can burn up to 400 calories, working upper and lower body including abs, forearms and back muscles.

For first-timers, expect to feel sore the next day. The recovery time is long because the class is only offered twice a week.

The class is offered both Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Room 205 at the Rec Center.


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