Jiu-jitsu gets a hold on Kaua’i

KAPA’A— More than 20 people spend several nights a month sweating, huffing,

puffing and grappling with each other in a building in downtown Kapa’a.

No,

it’s not a riot. It’s a jiu-jitsu class in the Kauai “Longman” Jiu-jitsu

Academy.

The sport of jiu-jitsu has become a major attraction for young

people all over the globe, thanks to the Gracie family whose accomplishments in

that sport have spread their combative style from Brazil to all over the

world.

The Garden Island is not immune to jiu-jitsu fever. According to

instructor and academy owner Bruno Ewald of Hanalei, the sport has literally

taken a hold of Kaua’i’s youth.

“It all started when Maeda, a Japanese

immigrant to Brazil, in return for a favor, taught one of the Gracie

grandfathers the art of Jiu-jitsu,” Ewald said. There in tropical Rio de

Janeiro, thousands of miles from Tokyo, the Gracies’ developed their own style,

following the jiu-jitsu philosophy that through leverage and technique a small

person is able to defeat a bigger opponent.

On Kaua’i, Ewald began teaching

a small group of five students in Ha’ena in 1993. Today, about 100 people here

practice jiu-jitsu. Ryan Joseph Eneim, 23, and Ben Butler, 25, of Kilauea are

two of them.

Ryan started in September 1995 and Ben a year later. Both

went to Brazil last fall to train for the Brazilian Nationals under the

supervision of Royler Grace in his academy in Tiuca, Rio de Janeiro.

“It

was a great jiu-jitsu and life experience,” Ryan said. “The food was good and

the surf was great.” He said that jiu-jitsu keeps him focused and clean — no

drugs. “It’s a healthier lifestyle. I feel confident and with more

self-control.”

Ben says for him jiu-jitsu has been “a determination

builder. It takes a lot to come to class when you don’t feel like it. But it

helps you to learn how to get past that and set up your own future

goals.

For Ben, Brazil was also an eye-opener. “I experienced poverty I’ve

never seen before, but also a festive and beautiful people who enjoy their life

as it is. Here in the class we are all friends and the camaraderie helps to

build new friendship. I’m grateful to Bruno for that.”

Ewald belongs to the

Rickson and Royer Gracie Team and participates in jiu-jitsu tournaments around

the world.

For more information, call the Kauai “Longman” Academy in Kapaa

at 822-7297. Classes are held nightly from Monday through Friday for children

and adults.

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