Getting fit with Jiu Jitsu: strength meets intelligence

Reported by: Melissa Carlson
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Updated: 5/15/2014 11:02 am
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- You've done one martial arts class and you've done them all, right?

Not a chance. Here at Conviction Martial Arts and Fitness, they're putting the 'work' in 'working out' -- all in the name of Jiu Jitsu.

What is Jiu Jitsu? CMA owner Kelley Farrell explains that more people than you would think have already seen it in action.

"Do you watch UFC? The stuff they're doing on the ground: that's Jiu Jitsu," says Farrell.

Think of Jiu Jitsu as the product of wrestling meeting chess; and here at CMA, you learn how to move and use restraint, all while trying to control your opponent by using locks, manipulations, and chokes. Yes, chokes.

Farrell, owner of CMA, is short in stature -- but don't let that fool you for a minute. She's a first-degree black belt in Jiu Jitsu and the first woman to train under world-renowned instructor Charles Gracie, himself a fourth-degree black belt in mixed martial arts. According to Farrell, that's the beauty of "Jitz" -- size doesn't matter.

"I'm not that big, I'm not that strong, I'm in good shape; but being little, I still have a chance against a big guy," continues Farrell.

Unlike fighting standing up, Jiu Jitsu offers opponents a level playing field -- by bringing the fight to the floor. It's not about brute strength, but about outsmarting your opponent by executing the right move at the right time.

"Jitz" is all about position before submission; and it's a big part of why Marci Zivala has been coming back to train for six months.

"You feel like you are more on top of your game; you are more aware of your surroundings and, [when] you are out there [in the real world] and someone looks sketchy, you can do something about it," says Zivala.

Jiu Jitsu allows you to work your brain, learn self-defense; but how is it much of a real workout?

"I could probably get the same workout rolling around on the ground that I can do in one hour [on] the treadmill," says Ryan Hysell, another participant at CMA.

Marci adds the training can be so intense, she's given up endurance training altogether.

"It is an unbelievable workout. I sweat more and work harder during an hour class than I do for a 20-mile run."

Now, it was my turn to try it out. After a quick warm-up with the class, I was ready to get started.

Kelley set me up with Lindsey, who showed me a few moves. First, I tried them out on my own; then, Lindsey showed me how it was really done.

After a few moves, I felt like I was getting it. Then, we switched partners -- and it was time to tangle with Marci.

There was no question in my mind that this is a workout.

"[Jiu Jitsu offers] a lot of core strength and [leg strengthening], but people definitely underestimate the cardio value," Kelley says.

Jitz is certainly not easy, but it is so much fun.

For more information about Conviction Martial Arts, visit their website by clicking here.
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