The Jui-jitsu Club in Invermere has seen a steady growth since its inception in August of 2008.
Alexander Munoz is the head coach of the club and brings over 20 years of experience in the martial art to the members.
Growing up in Costa Rica, Munoz began training at a very young age. “It was my father who pushed me into Jui-jitsu. All of my family are involved with Jui-jitsu. Only my mother did not do it but she was still at every tournament. She was a Jui-jitsu mom,” he said.
Munoz went on to train in the sport in Japan as well before moving to Invermere and finding out there was an interest from some local people in the sport.
“Many people were interested in learning Jui-jitsu. Right now there is a boom in learning about this. People came to me and wanted to train so I decided why not,” he said.
He went on to say that mixed martial arts (MMA) like the Ultimate Fighting Challenge (UFC) have bolstered the number of people who want to learn Jui-jitsu, even if they do not plan on competing.
“Many people think about Jui-jitsu like they see on television. But Jui-jitsu is more about being a better person.
“We don’t teach people to go outside and fight. If someone goes to a bar and fights they are not allowed to train. It is about respect, traditional things and self defense.”
Jeremiah Breeze has been with the club since it started. The well-known karate coach said that Jui-jitsu has helped him on many different levels.
“I have been in many martial arts before and I knew that ground-fighting was something I didn’t know about.
“I have always wanted to learn it as well. It has improved my karate, especially in the self-defense aspect. Just as a whole, the more you know, the better you are,” Breeze said.
“It is not only for MMA but also deals with mental strength and life-long learning. What you see on TV is only one aspect of it. We tailor the class to everyone’s needs.”
For student Tanner Elingboe, the sport was something he felt he could excel in, but it has also come with a close relationship to the group.
“We are a really close team and friends. Jui-jitsu is totally a different style with the grappling. I enjoy working on submissions that you don’t see in other forms,” Elingboe said.
The physical side of the Martial arts has also helped some of the students gain other side benefits.
Travis Tagge from the Village of Radium Hot Springs said, “It is a great exercise. I have lost 25 pounds since I started doing this. I also enjoy the challenge of it. I think of it like a chess game. You have to outthink your opponent.”
Tagge recently won a bronze at his first tournament and stressed that the sport is not just what you see at UFC events, but it does give you a better understanding of what people are doing or could do when watching televised events. “It is interesting watching UFC and thinking what you would do in certain situations,” he said. As for his coach Tagge has nothing but positive things to say. “He is very, very good at what he does. He is patient and treats everyone who comes in here with respect and we give it back to him.”