Grappling Grand Prix 2016

Brazilian Ju Jitso Practitioners Roll In to University of Houston Cougar Kendo for Grappling Matches

By Tom Roush

August 6, 2016 – While many Houstonians tuned in to KPRC to watch the Rio Olympics, practitioners of a Brazilian export product, the martial art known as Brazilian Ju Jitsu, turned towards the mats at the University of Houston to test skills and wits.

Many know Brazilian Ju Jitsu as a sub-routine of Mixed Martial Arts, covering all of the combat action that doesn’t involve punching or kicking. But BJJ as it is known has an avid and active base of practitioners in Houston who compete both in and out of the thick BJJ Gi to see who can submit whom.

250 of them stepped on to the mats this Saturday and “rolled” as they call it towards either victory or defeat. While the majority were men, many women competed and displayed impressive skills. Combatants were paired by gender, weight and skill level and judges scored the rolls in case the six minute matches did not produce a win by submission.

Once combatant was Douglas Ferimer, a physical therapy student who trains at Pablo Silva Ju Jitsu in the MedCenter area. He trains at least three times per week and has been doing so for three years.

“It’s good for everything; the body, mind and spirit,” he explains when asked why he participates. “For example, I lost my first match today, but then I came back and won. You fail but then you bounce back.”

Competitors, including kids from age 4 upward, came and went off the mats all day on Saturday. The giant mat was sectioned off in to eight spaces and the matches ran continuously.

The rules allow a competitor to grip and use the opponent’s Gi for leverage and even to choke, so Gi matches quickly turned in to close quarters grappling on the ground. No Gi matches were more freewheeling affairs where combatants were able to break free and return to a standing position.

Such fierce close quarters fighting does produce injury, but Ferimer notes that he has never been hurt.

“It can be dangerous,” he says, “but it’s no different from any sport were people are running in to each other.”

“That said,” he added, “my mom won’t watch me do this.”