This year my New Year’s Resolution was to start taking Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ).
BJJ is a grappling martial art that focuses on self-defense through leverage and technique instead of using strength.
I chose Maverick Training Center in south Huntsville to start learning.
The gym is truly a family business. The owner is Suzanne Ramsden, but her children Evan and Julia are both instructors. Suzanne is a very accomplished martial artist who was the first female to earn her black belt under the very first BJJ World Champion. She also has extensive experience in boxing, Muay Thai, Escrima, wrestling, and Jeet Kun Do.
Cliff’s Notes version- she’s a bad mamajama.
The gym is named Maverick because Suzanne’s instructor Richard Bustillo (he was a student of Bruce Lee’s) nicknamed her Maverick because she did things different than most people.
True to form, she is one of a few female combat athletics gym owners and she is almost always the only female coach of men at IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) competitions.
Her expertise has rubbed off on her children. Her son Evan is a brown belt in BJJ and a high level BJJ competitor. Her daughter Julia is a purple belt in BJJ and recently won her first Muay Thai fight. They take things so seriously at their house they do not have a dining room table. Instead they put mats in their dining room, so they could practice at home. Seriously.
Maverick offers classes in BJJ (for adults and children), Muay Thai, kickboxing, and Tai Chi. There are a wide variety of ages, body types, styles, and experience levels in every class. The kids are as young as 3 and there are adults in their 50s that train there as well. The part that has impressed me the most is everyone’s willingness to help one another.
They truly consider you a teammate and want you to improve.
It is a weird thing to have someone give you tips on how to better choke them.
Your first class is free at Maverick, so I would encourage you to at least give it a try.
Here are a few tips for when you go:
- Bring plenty of water-there is no substitute for BJJ rolling. I don’t care if you workout and run every day, you’re not ready. Stay hydrated and pace yourself.
- No shame in tapping– if you are caught in a submission, you tap your opponent or the mat. Everybody taps it’s no big deal. You just go right back to training and you stay injury free.
- Roll at your level– if you are going with someone more experienced, they will follow your lead. If you are trying to Hulk smash them they are going to pick it up a notch. But if you are just trying to learn, they will flow with you and help you along the way.
- Give it time– BJJ can be a little difficult to grasp at first because it is totally different from what most people have done before. Don’t get discouraged in the beginning, the mental and physical challenge it offers becomes addicting.
Maverick also believes in giving back. Their Champions in Life program provides free BJJ instruction and additional community services to children in need. Their Veterans Jiu-Jitsu program provides free BJJ classes to veterans and active duty military.