Meet our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor!
- Stoke Newington News
We are delighted to announce that we are now teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at TMAP!
What exactly is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, also known as BJJ, stems from the vibrant maze city Rio de Janeiro, after Brazilian politician Gastao Gracie befriended a Japanese Judoka master, Mitsuya Maeda in 1917. Since the 1920s, BJJ has been reinvented and evolved into a revolutionary technical discipline. BJJ is literally the philosophy of arte suave – innovative ground combat made effective for anyone, no matter your age or level of fitness.
We’ve interviewed Abel Martinez, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champ who we’re lucky to have teaching this fantastic discipline in our dojos. Meet him below…
Hi Abel, lovely to have you join our team! Tell us a little bit about your martial arts journey.
My name is Abel Martinez, I have been doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for almost 20 years now. I am a second-degree black belt. I have been involved with martial arts since I was 12 years old. I have competed in BJJ championships and have achieved the following:
2003 Seni championship - Gold
2003 London championship - Gold
2005 Seni championship - Gold
2007 Seni championship - Silver
2008 European championship - Gold
2008 Scandinavian championship - Silver
I started training in martial arts when I was 12 years old, learning Karate for 2 years before moving on to boxing. After turning 16, I began competing in Kickboxing and became the British Kickboxing champion. In 2007, I was the head coach for the Thai boxing and MMA team at London Fight Factory and trained Diego Vital and Jeremy Petley. Overall, I have been teaching for over 15 years and been doing martial arts for over 30 years.
Why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? What makes it stand out?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is very accessible to everyone, whether you have fitness or self-defense related goals. If I were to give a tip it would be to stay open-minded and patient. Don’t expect too much out of it too early because of the variety of techniques required.
You don’t need to be super fit. That’s the beauty of BJJ, it’s accessible for everyone. We all come in different shapes and sizes and it’s about learning the technique. The oldest student I’ve had was 71 years of age when I was teaching back in Spain. That’s where the art shines, when a smaller or weaker individual can take on a stronger opponent.
What tip would you give to someone new to BJJ?
The class structure is very important and the approach for the white belts is all about making sure they’ve developed a good foundation. So the basics become clinical! Here we always aim for perfection, we won’t attain perfection, but we will improve!
What’s the making of a good foundation? Understanding of weight distribution and leverage. It’s not about how many different techniques you know. It’s about using what’s practical. In Judo, for example, there are 71 throws, but the master will still use just 5 throws that have been honed for years! It’s the same with BJJ, you’ll use just two or three submissions that you’ve worked on and developed from a solid foundation.
What does BJJ mean to you? How has it shaped you?
I’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu for 18 years now. It’s altered my life and changed it in a way that I never expected. For me martial arts provides that focus and positivity not only found on the tatami, but also in life. That said, it gives you the foundation to see positivity. There’s a saying: no position is a bad position in BJJ and that works with life too. No situation is a bad situation. There is much humility and respect in martial arts and that has guided me for a long time. The values you learn on the tatami are for life.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching?
I like to make everyone feel comfortable, happy and to see everyone enjoying themselves. I see the Dojo as a family with respect and love for everyone involved.
The part I enjoy the most about teaching… It is the art I have. I enjoy the discipline like a kid in a candy store. Jiu-Jitsu was given to me and I would like to give back. I never see it as work. I love waking up in the morning and coming to teach the class. Seeing people have the same passion as I have or seeing people build their confidence from having no confidence in the world to becoming very confident.