Cristiano Xavier in his gi, the two-piece white garment, walks around on the grey-and-blue mat and oversees people’s action.
Denis Dasilva lies on his back while a guy sits on top of him. He pulls the guy close to him, and tries to sneak his left hand between their bodies to complete a choke technique, but he fails.
“Move your hip,” says loudly Xavier, a 6-year trainer with a black belt at Charles Gracie Academy. He has been participating Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for 16 years.
The technique, that Dasilva failed to apply, is using one of your hand, over your competitor’s shoulder to his back, to hold him down and close to you tightly, while the other hand pulling out his gi from the front and move it around his back to the other side, so your hand, which is above his shoulder on his back, can grab it and pull, turning his gi to a straitjacket.
Next step is to step on the mat and slightly move your hip to create a better position for your free hand sneak in between two bodies and reach to your hand that pulling his gi above his shoulder, so you can pull the gi harder by both hands and choke him.
At Charles Gracie Jiu-jitsu Academy located at 603 Taraval St in San Francisco, kids, as young as 4 years old, and adults practice Brazilian Jiu-jitsu together. Males and females are locking each other tight on mat, sweat and, sometimes, bleed together.
Joseph Asaro, a trainer with brown belt, said Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is becoming a popular sport.
“Within last three years, the Charles Gracie opened three academies in the bay area,” Asaro said. “The newest one was opened last month in Pacifica, the eighth one in California.”
The Charles Gracie has two more academies in Nevada, and 15 affiliated academies, one of them is located in Kona, Hawaii.
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, also known as BJJ, is a booming martial art in the United States, thanks to the popularity of MMA and UFC. Jiu-jitsu itself is Portuguese spelling of Judo, a Japanese term that means the way or technique of being flexible and soft, Xavier said.
“After World War II, Mitsuyo Maeda settled in Brazil, and he opened a Judo academy in Brazil,” Xavier said.
Carlos and Helio Gracie, the founders of BJJ, taught by Maeda and devoted to the martial art, but their body builds were not as strong as Maeda, so they modified techniques based on the Japanese Judo and created BJJ.
Judo discarded locking and chocking techniques that it once had included, for they are illegal in competition, but BJJ is focused on those discarded techniques.
“It’s the way to fight a guy much bigger than you,” Xavier said.