To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Art behind the grappling phenomenon: an interview with the Brandeis Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club

Born on the streets of Brazil, this martial art transcends mere self-defense, teaching its practitioners the art of resilience, strategy and inner strength. The Hoot sat down with the Brandeis Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Club, otherwise known as Brandeis BJJ, and spoke with its president, Max Greisberg ’25, and manager LJ Liao ’26.

“Being different from traditional martial arts that rely heavily on kicking and striking, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu relies heavily on techniques like joint locks and chokes. This is wrestling for ground control,” said Liao. A typical club meeting involves a warm-up, movement drills and pairing up to practice techniques. To better the experience of their members, they have implemented curriculum cards to track progress and aid in revision, ensuring a structured learning environment. The sessions often conclude with live training or sparring. This is where members get to apply the techniques in a more dynamic and resistant environment. It’s a critical aspect of BJJ training, as it simulates real-world scenarios and allows members to test their skills under pressure.

Yet the club faced significant hurdles as it passed down the years. The previous president stepped in with the club barren. “No members, no e-board members, no coach to help train and just from ground zero,” Greisberg recollected. Finding and onboarding a new coach, Tod, was a bureaucratic maze. The current president Greisberg and manager Liao came into place at this time, having to learn how to efficiently utilize a budget, a skill that both lacked experience with. Decisions on how to allocate funds, order equipment and manage club expenses were also new territories for them.

Furthermore, organizing events, managing schedules and ensuring the smooth operation of the club required a level of organizational skill that they had to quickly familiarize themselves with. With struggles, learning and adapting as the club developed, ​the club grew. Their journey was not just about sustaining a club; it was about building a community from the ground up, instilling a sense of belonging and fostering a shared passion for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

One of Brandeis BJJ’s proudest achievements is transforming student gatherings into professional gym-like sessions. The club plans to host a self-defense seminar open to all campus students this semester, led by Tod and other trained e-board members. Additionally, the club plans to engage in more bonding activities, such as dinners and watch parties for MMA fights, fostering a strong community spirit.

Moving forward, the club still foresees certain obstacles. Managing space effectively and ensuring the safety of their members during training is a growing challenge given the growth of the club. “It’s kind of one of those bitter things where it’s great that you got a giant amount of people showing up, but there’s only so many people that can fit in the room.” says Greisberg.

The leaders commented that their favorite parts of running the club involves watching the growth and development of their members. According to Liao, it is being able to learn from different members with different backgrounds. Every member contributes, whether it is sharing a new technique, offering a different perspective on a move, or supporting fellow members during training. They also noted witnessing immense growth in their beginners despite their twice a week sessions, which brings them pride and satisfaction.

One of the biggest difficulties that Brandeis BJJ still faces is fostering effective communication and coordination. Last year, they realized that there were significant funding issues with the club, like the realization that their coach had yet to receive pay for his work. Additionally, utilities such as locker rooms and uniforms were also having issues.

Despite these challenges, Brandeis BJJ continues to grow, and its members’ love and appreciation for the art never wavered. Through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the members fostered new bonds and relationships, instilling a sense of belonging and shared passion. They hope to expand their members and welcome students interested in the club to attend their sessions. The founders recommended watching the first few episodes of the UFC and MMA for a vivid and impactful view of the beauty of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

If you are interested in becoming a part of Brandeis BJJ, sessions are held every week on Fridays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. in Lindsay multipurpose room. Attendance is flexible as there will always be catch up sessions held. For any questions, feel free to contact president Greisberg at email mgreisberg@brandeis.edu, or Liao at owenliao@brandeis.edu.

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