Jiu-Jitsu in Jacksonville


Jared Degroot officially opened Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Jacksonville, 59 East Central Park Plaza, the morning of Saturday, Nov. 12 with a Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting.

Degroot has taught for the past 20 years on a smaller scale. “But now I’m a certified training center of Gracie University, probably one of the biggest martial arts programs on the west coast that Degroot brought to Jacksonville and this is their curriculum. It has several levels of programs in effort to teach kids, teens, adults Jiu-Jitsu practices.

Degroot explains that their first program, Bullyproof®. Degroot says, “This is typically for 5-12-year-olds, but about that time they begin transitioning to our Combatives®, which is our beginners’ program.”

Gracie program information explains that every month in the United States, three million children miss school due to fear of bullies. In the Gracie Bullyproof program, the goal is to instill a child with unshakable confidence so he or she can overcome bullies without violence. 

“The Bullyproof program focuses on socialization, fitness, character development that we implement into our Gracie Bullyproof,” explains Degroot. “Character implement includes things like responsibility, health, respect, citizenship, manners, and caring,” says Degroot holding up cards with this information on them.

“Parents take these home every two months and we focus on one of these topics at a time. When the students do acts of responsibility at home they get points and if they do acts without being prompted they get more points. And the points they earn a ticket for our Gracie Game Day which they come here and we play nothing but games and have fun for two hours. I go get door prizes. I go get toys for them, give away posters and they earn a patch to put on their Gi.”

Each time students come to class they also get an “x” in a box on their card, When they fill up the boxes for attending classes, they get the first stripe on their belt. When they fill up their card with classes, character development, and all the categories then they are ready for their next belt. So, each part of the card builds on the others.

Gracie Combatives is our beginner program for adults. “That is adult in name only,” says Degroot. “I have stand outs in the other class and they might move up sooner.” They have cards for this class also and fill out the cards as they learn each skill, or a breakdown of each move. Each one-hour lesson addresses one standing and one ground self-defense technique, which are further broken down into simplified drills or “slices” to facilitate the learning process. Studies have shown that 36 techniques have been used more often and with greater success than all the other techniques combined. After students finish their cards, they are ready to test for their belts.

DeGroot says, “What I am bringing with the Women Empowered has never been done in this area. When I went to California to get certified, I saw hundreds of ladies going to these seminars, having their lives changed and gaining confidence. Some of them are taking them before going to school, some are in a job where they are alone a lot.” DeGroot and his staff are excited to help empower local women in ways to protect themselves if they are caught in a situation in which they feel threatened.

Degroot offered a free first Women Empowered lesson to women who came during his opening day. There were 10 participants who came and learned several techniques. Degroot explained to them that they will practice each of the techniques over and over so it becomes natural action.

Women Empowered® is 15-lesson program, which teaches women how to neutralize the 20 most common attacks ranging from having your hair grabbed to being pinned to the ground by a weapon-bearing assailant. Each one-hour Women Empowered lesson addresses two techniques. You can start the program at any time and participate in any class without previous experience.

Unlike most self-defense systems that rely heavily on strength, speed, and coordination, the techniques in the Women Empowered program employ leverage, technique, and timing, so anyone, regardless of age or athletic ability, can make them work against larger opponents. Once you complete the Women Empowered program, you may test for promotion to pink belt! Women who chose can move on to the Gracie Combative program should they choose to continue the jiu-jitsu journey.

Contact Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to talk to them about beginning any of its programs. Email jacksonvilleegjj@gmail.com or stop in and talked to Degroot or his staff.

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