By: Michelle Gomez
Ever wanted to be a pro UFC fighter? You can get started with the SFU Grappling Club. The club was resurrected a few years ago by co-presidents Jonathan Ha, Emmanuel Hung, and Solomon Yu after years of inactivity. Determined to raise interest in the sport at SFU, the Grappling Club offers practices, group workouts, and as of last week, chances to compete.
Jonathan Ha explained in an interview with The Peak that this time around, they’re focusing on recruitment and social media. They want to get the word out and get people to try it. Furthermore, their practices are more structured than they used to be, often with a specific focus – though still relaxed, Ha notes. They have also started to compete, attending their first competition on Sunday, October 14.
But what exactly is grappling? According to SFU Recreation, “grappling refers to techniques, manoeuvres, and counters applied to an opponent in order to gain a physical advantage.” It is a general umbrella term that refers to many different disciplines, including “Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Sambo, Wrestling and Catch-Wrestling.”
Ha explained that the SFU Grappling Club focuses on styles that do not involve striking or hitting. All of the grappling techniques they practice are low-risk and low-injury, and participants can tap out whenever they want. Ha explained that since striking is not allowed, their practices mostly involve positional techniques, arm locks, leg locks, and chokes.
The Grappling Club holds two one-hour practices twice a week. They host classes with different focuses, including both sport-based and self-defence-based grappling, with the goal of teaching members a wide range of the sport. Students can sign up to join the club at the recreational office to, and can attend as many or as few classes as they wish.
Ha also noted that classes are completely open to SFU students of all levels, and that “most of our students are completely new to the sport, and more often than not they end up really liking it and going to other gyms outside of SFU.” They also host viewing parties for big UFC fights, as well as group workouts.
The competition they attended last weekend was the AVA Combat Classic competition. While participants must enter as individuals, the Grappling Club goes together and supports each other as if they were on a team.
Ha noted that aside from being a fun sport, grappling is a useful skill that can be applied to real life.
“We want to show people it doesn’t matter how big or strong you are… it’s all about technique,” he said. “It can be really practical in real life situations where self-defence is needed. A lot of people have come up to me afterward telling me how much more confident they feel after learning the sport.” In other words, you don’t necessarily have to have the body type that is commonly associated with wrestlers to excel at grappling.
For the future of the club, Ha wants to spread the word and get as many people to try it as possible. He says “anyone who is slightly interested should check out videos or just give it a shot for one semester.” He noted that he has seen a lot of people who have never done anything like it before but get hooked after a few lessons.