It’s never too late to try something totally different – it’s never too early either. Whether you’re looking to improve your mental and physical strength or build your children’s respect and patience, martial arts is a great place to start. Blitz Fitness in Tisbury has a variety of disciplines available for several different age groups, from toddlers to seniors.
An essential lesson that any youth sport will teach children is respect and responsibility. With martial arts, you only get what you put in. Catie Blake, fifth-degree black belt, martial arts instructor and owner of Blitz Fitness, said children first learn to control their emotions and their bodies. “It’s one of the hardest things to master. We all struggle with self-control, but it’s such an important part of martial arts,” Blake said. “Respect, they learn that from the start – not talking to each other, waiting their turn.”
The small group of tigers ranges from 3 to 8 years old. According to Blake, most martial arts disciplines use a ranking system based on colored belts: a white belt denotes the most novice level, and a black belt is more or less the top of the pile. (although there are even higher levels). Within taekwondo (Blake’s specialization), many different skills need to be developed. Kicking and striking are the mainstays of taekwondo, while jiujitsu and Brazilian jiujitsu focus primarily on mastering your opponent on the ground.
At Blitz Fitness, no matter what discipline you choose, it takes many years to climb the ranks to black belt. “It’s far from a quick thing. One of my students, Joey, started when he was 7 or 8 years old. He’s 17 now and hasn’t earned his black belt yet, so it’s a very serious process,” Blake said. “We teach beginners to stand at attention, to bow. We teach them cat stances, front stances, and we work a lot on agility and balance.
According to Blake, jiujitsu, taekwondo, karate, and other forms of martial arts all go hand in hand, as they each teach essential skills that inform proper technique.
In many cases, a standing fight can go to the ground in the blink of an eye. Blake said those who really want to succeed in martial arts, whether competitive or simple self-defense, must master both their stance and their ground game.
But in most cases, martial arts isn’t about fighting – it’s about learning when not to and having the self-control to de-escalate a situation before it turns violent. “We teach you to fight so you never have to. When you teach children, you can’t teach them fighting skills unless they have self-control. Because if something goes wrong with them, they can’t use kicks and punches to solve those problems,” Blake said. She added that self-control is what guides you through martial arts classes and keeps you on the path to your black belt.
No one reaches the top ranks without wanting to quit at some point, Blake said, and it all depends on the support systems that are in place to encourage that kid to keep training and working hard.
For decades, Blake has watched children thrive through martial arts – ultimately finding the confidence and strength they never imagined. “Parents have no idea what their children are capable of. I’ve seen kids through the program who are now married with kids,” Blake said. “Very rarely does a kid get their black belt if they’re not going into some kind of medical or fitness field because they’re trained so young to be physical. One of my black belts is now a high school gym teacher. We have nutritionists, personal trainers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
After so many years of grueling training, Blake said, she’s confident she can achieve anything she sets her mind to — just another perk of getting into martial arts at a young age. “If you can pass that black belt test, you can pass just about anything life throws at you. It’s that confidence that you can’t achieve without going through something that really pushes you to your limits, and come out on top,” Blake said.
Neila Silva, jiujitsu instructor at Blitz Fitness, said she started taking classes in 2012, a bit later in life than most martial artists normally start. “I had friends who did it and I was always interested in martial arts. I absolutely wanted to learn how to defend myself, but my friends kept telling me that I was very strong, and I thought I might as well put that to good use,” Silva laughed. “It’s not that you have to be strong to do jiujitsu, but it helps.”
As you practice and learn, Silva said, you strengthen, strengthen and trust your teachers and fellow students. People are also making lifelong friendships through the classes they take, and the studio is starting to feel more and more like home. “I really like the people at Blitz. I love Catie – we’ve been friends for a long time,” Silva said. “The grappling mats are always down and always clean and ready to go.”
Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ) is a ground fighting discipline involving chokes and holds. The dynamic usually plays out with one person defending a choke or submission while on the ground, and the attacker trying to “break the guard” of the defender. Silva explains that most offensive moves target an opponent’s joints, allowing a lighter, weaker opponent to attack successfully and win a fight against someone who is bigger or stronger. BJJ practitioners generally use chokeholds, chokeholds and joint locks to overcome their opponents, mainly from an athletic point of view. Japanese jiujitsu primarily focuses on throwing opponents, manipulating joints, striking and blocking, and some chokes and chokes – all from a self-defense perspective.
“You can choke their necks, their arms, their legs – just about any of their limbs. You can use their clothes to suffocate them,” Silva said. “We usually wear what we call a gi, but if you need to defend yourself somewhere, and of course you hope that never happens, you’re not going to say, ‘Wait a second, let me put on my im.’ ”
Kidding aside, Silva said, the goal of jiujitsu is always to bring your opponent to the ground and knock them out. Through all of this pain (both giving and receiving), Silva described the intense connection she feels with those she trains with, saying the shared experience brings people together in unique and unusual ways.
The phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” seems to be the most applicable when talking about jiujitsu and all martial arts. “The physical pain is very, very real, so your emotional pains become a lot easier to deal with. The world seems a lot easier to deal with after practice,” Silva said.
Silva is a purple belt in Brazilian jiujitsu, which is the intermediate adult ranking. A national federation regulates competitions and rankings, called the International Federation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The time it takes to progress through the ranks is determined by the student’s tenacity, natural ability, and time availability, as well as the rules of the individual studio.
Silva has had her purple belt for nearly five years, and to advance to the next belt she needs to master a few basic moves and principles. Some teachers will test students on certain skills, while other teachers will simply watch their students and present the belt when they deem them ready.
Silva spent three years with her blue belt (the rank below purple), and when she finally got her purple belt, it was a big surprise. “I was struggling with my teacher and, believe it or not, he undid my belt and put my new purple belt on me without me even noticing,” she laughed.
Although Silva has said that one of her favorite parts of martial arts at Blitz Fitness is being able to compete against students from other schools and studios, the greatest joy for her is finding the solace and support of his friends and teachers who have spent many years training. next to her.
“It’s a shared experience for all of us, whether you just want to be more active or for the idea of self-defense, or really any other circumstance, it becomes a family that you love,” Silva said.