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.
it’s not a riot. It’s a jiu-jitsu class in the Kauai “Longman” Jiu-jitsu
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
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.
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
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
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
For more information, call the Kauai “Longman” Academy in Kapaa
at 822-7297. Classes are held nightly from Monday through Friday for children