It’s never too late — and never too early — to try something completely different. Whether you want to build physical and mental strength or develop respect and patience in your child, martial arts is a great place to start. Blitz Fitness in Tisbury offers a variety of training programmes for all ages, from toddlers to seniors.
An important lesson any youth sport teaches children is respect and responsibility. With martial arts, you only get what you put in. Catie Blake, a fifth-level black belt, martial arts instructor and owner of Blitz Fitness, says children first learn how 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 an important part of martial arts,” Black said. “Respect, they knew that from the start – instead of talking to each other and waiting for their turn.”
The cubs range in age from 3 to 8 years old. According to Black, most martial arts disciplines use a ribbon-based ranking system: white belts represent the newest rank, and black belts are more or less at the top (though there are higher ranks). In Taekwondo (Black’s specialty), there are many different skills to develop. Kicks and punches are the backbone of taekwondo, while jiu-jitsu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu primarily focus on subduing opponents on the ground.
At Blitz Fitness, it doesn’t matter what discipline someone chooses – it takes years to climb all the way from the rankings to a black belt. “It’s far from a joy. One of my students, Joey, started when he was 7 or 8. He’s 17 and hasn’t got a black belt, so it’s a very serious process,” Blake Say. “We teach beginners to pay attention, to bow. We teach them cat stance, front stance, and we do a lot of work on agility and balance.”
According to Black, jiu-jitsu, taekwondo, karate, and other forms of martial arts all go hand in hand because they all teach basic skills that guide proper technique.
In many cases, a standing fight can happen in the blink of an eye. Black says that anyone who wants to be truly successful in martial arts, whether in competition or simple self-defense, should be proficient in standing and ground competition.
But for the most part, martial arts isn’t about fighting – it’s about learning when not to fight and having the self-control to defuse a situation before it turns violent. “We teach you how to fight so you don’t have to. When you teach kids, you can’t teach them fighting skills unless they have self-control. Because if things don’t go their way, they can’t punch and kick kick to fix those issues,” Black said. She added that self-control is what gets you through martial arts classes and puts you on the path to a black belt.
No one wants to quit at some point to reach the top level, and it’s all about a support system that encourages kids to keep training and working hard, Black said.
For decades, Blake has watched children succeed through martial arts—finally finding confidence and strength they never knew they had. “Parents don’t know what their kids are capable of. I’ve seen kids who are now married and have kids through this program,” Black said. “A kid who doesn’t go into some kind of medical or fitness field rarely gets a black belt because they are trained to be physical at such a young age. One of my black belts is now a physical education teacher in high school. We have nutritionists, private Coaches, occupational therapists and physical therapists.”
Black says that after so many years of hard training, she has the confidence that she can achieve anything she sets her mind to do — just another perk of being exposed to martial arts at a young age. “If you can pass the black belt test, you can pass almost anything life throws at you. You can’t gain that confidence without going through something that really pushes you to the limit and excels,” Black said.
Neila Silva, a jiu-jitsu instructor at Blitz Fitness, said she started classes in 2012, a little later than most martial artists usually start. “I have friends doing it and I’ve always been interested in martial arts. I definitely want to learn how to protect myself, but my friends also keep telling me I’m strong and I thought I might as well put it to use,” Silva said laughingly. “It’s not that you have to be strong to do jiu-jitsu, but it does help.”
When you train and learn, Silva says, you build strength, confidence and trust in your teachers and fellow students. People also developed lifelong friendships from the classes they took, and the studio started to feel more and more like home. “I really like the people at Blitz. I love Katie—we’ve been friends for a long time,” Silva said. “The grab pad is always down, always clean and ready to go.”
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a ground fighting discipline involving suffocation and grappling. This dynamic usually comes into play when one is on the ground defending suffocation or yielding, while the attacker tries to “break the defender’s guard”. Silva explained that most offensive moves target the opponent’s joints, which allows lighter, weaker opponents to attack successfully and to be successful in fights against larger or stronger people. BJJ practitioners typically use chokes, strangles, and knuckle locks to overcome opponents, mostly from an athletic standpoint. Japanese Jiu-Jitsu focuses primarily on throwing opponents, joint maneuvering, striking and blocking, and some strangulation and strangulation – all from a self-defense standpoint.
“You can choke their necks, arms, legs — pretty much any limb. You can choke them with their clothes,” Silva said. “We usually wear what we call a gi, but if you need to protect yourself somewhere, of course you hope that never happens, you’re not like, ‘Wait a minute, let me put on my gi.'”
All jokes aside, Silva says the goal of Jiu-Jitsu is always to knock your opponent down and then let them strike. Going through all the pain (giving and receiving), Silva describes the strong connection she has with the people she trains with, saying that shared experiences bring people together in a unique and unusual way.
When it comes to jiu-jitsu and all martial arts, the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” seems to apply best. “Physical pain is very, very real, so your emotional pain becomes easier to deal with. After training, the world seems more accepting,” Silva said.
Silva is the purple belt of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is the intermediate adult level. A national federation manages competitions and rankings, called the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. How long it takes to qualify depends on the student’s tenacity, natural ability and time availability, as well as the rules of each studio.
Silva’s purple belt has been around for almost five years. To walk off a belt, she needs to master some core movements and principles. Some teachers will test students on certain skills, while others will simply look at their students and show the belt when they think they are ready.
Silva spent three years with a blue belt (a grade below purple), and it was a big surprise when she finally got a purple belt. “I was wrestling with my teacher and believe it or not, he undid my belt and put my new purple belt on me and I didn’t even notice,” she laughs.
Although Silva says one of her favorite aspects of martial arts at Blitz Fitness is being able to compete with students from other schools and studios, the greatest joy for her is the comfort and support she receives from her friends and teachers, They spent years training by her side.
“It’s a shared experience for all of us, whether you’re trying to be more active, for self-defense, or in any other situation, it’s going to be a family you love,” Silva said. ”