Jarrett Becks looks like an average guy. He is certainly not the largest person in the small room. It's hot even after a hail-producing storm came through the area a few short hours earlier. All eyes are on him as he lies on his back and calls one of his students over to show them newest move they are going learn in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
I watch as Becks explains the next lesson to his students, who are about as diverse as you can get--women and men, young and old, black and white--all of them are here to learn.
The group breaks off into pairs. Each twosome looks like they are working on a dance; they perform each movement with purpose and in a specific order.
After watching the class for nearly an hour, I have two observations. The first is that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is designed to use your opponent's weight and momentum to gain control over him or her. My other observation is that this is serious exercise--the workout has sweat pouring off Becks and his students.
Becks began studying martial arts when he was 5 years old. He started with Tae-Kwon-do and moved on to other styles throughout the years.
In 2011, Isreal Gomes of the American Killer Bees awarded Becks his black belt. Since earning his black belt, he has named his studio No Limit/Killer Bees and has several locations in the metro area.
After class, I spoke with Becks about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the different types of classes he teaches. Becks was especially excited about two of his favorite classes: his anti-bullying kids program and his women's self-defense classes.
"The most important competition is the competition of life" Becks says. "I teach non-violent self-defense because Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is most effective when being attacked, not (when) attacking."
This confirmed my first observation that Jiu-Jitsu practitioners use the other person's momentum and weight against them. Watching the class, all the techniques I saw used defensive positions.
"First thing I always teach is awareness and non-violent prevention," Becks says. "If I can avoid a confrontation, I've already won the battle without having to be physical."
These are the principles Becks teaches in his anti-bullying class and in his women's self-defense. He goes on to explain that what he teaches works for the average person because you don't have to be the strongest or most fit person to do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Becks explains that the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Helio Gracie, invented the new martial art out of necessity.
The Gracie brothers had learned Judo and had begun teaching the art, but Helio was unable to perform many of the techniques of the art that required direct opposition to his opponent's strength. He was naturally frail.
Helio Gracie based Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu mainly on ground attacks instead of Judo's throwing techniques. Ground attacks took the focus off the more powerful, stronger, or those with superior reach. Instead, it focuses on getting an opponent on the ground where students learn how to maximize force using mechanical strength and not pure strength.
This makes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a good technique to learn and use when awareness and prevention fails.
"In the anti-bullying class, we teach how to hold off someone trying to hurt you and yell for help," Becks says. "We do the same in the women's self-defense but also teach more of the submission and choke holds that are easy to use." He would love to see more women and kids in his classes, he says.
Becks continues while demonstrating: "(Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) builds on realism and teaches muscle memory and not to panic if you end up on the ground."
He explains the mental aspect to learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. "It is like a chess match," he says. "Our bodies are the pieces, but our mind is doing the thinking."
Locally, No Limit/Killer Bees studios are located in Brandon, where Becks teaches, (1024 Highway 471, Brandon, 601-
383-2495) and Clinton (322 Highway 80 E., Suite F, Clinton, 601-966-8358). A third branch in Madison opens April 10.
Monthly prices are $80 for adults, $60 for kids and half-off for each additional family member.
For more information on the studio, visit nolimitkillerbees.com or find it