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Updated: October 8, 2013 18:43 IST

Twist ’n’ shout

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It is all about leverage, says Rohit Vasudevan
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It is all about leverage, says Rohit Vasudevan

After degrees in mechanical engineering and aerodynamics, Rohit Vasudevan decided his true calling lay in spreading awareness about Jiu-Jitsu

We live in a time and age where fitness is more than just a fad. Capitalising on this 25-year-old engineer, Rohit Vasudevan has set up the Institute of Jiu-Jitsu in the city.

Delving into history Rohit says: “Jiu-Jitsu, which means “gentle art”, is the oldest form of martial arts. It originated in India and then spread to Japan. Next up was Helio Gracie, son of a Brazilian scholar. Helio was frail and weighed only 135 pounds. He was 16 when he began learning Jiu-Jitsu. Because of his size he began to work with and adapt the basic rules of Jiu-Jitsu. He introduced the application of leverage to the art, making it possible for a smaller opponent to defeat a larger one.”

Following his BE in Mechanical Engineering from M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Rohit went on to pursue a Masters degree in Aerodynamics from the University of Southampton, UK. He started training in Jiu-Jitsu while in the UK and once he returned to India, he found himself teaching a couple of close friends. “Soon I came to realise that there was potential in spreading the word about Jiu-Jitsu and decided to set up my own academy.”

Talking about the pros of Jiu-Jitsu, Rohit says: “Many martial artists do not practice how to defend themselves under realistic conditions. They ignore the fact that 95 per cent of all fights go into a clinch and end up on the ground especially if the opponent is bigger and stronger. In the street it is very difficult to use fancy kicks and deadly punches. Not knowing what to do on the ground ends up becoming a significant weakness. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the only martial art that addresses this issue.”

And what gives this martial art its edge is “leverage and simplicity thereby enabling any kind of individual to practice and master the art. Jiu-Jitsu is not dependent on size, age, gender or athletic ability.”

Ask Rohit if he had the support of his family in his unusual choices and he says: “Initially they weren’t very supportive of my decision. I managed to make them understand that this was my calling. They came to terms with it soon enough and now I have their unwavering support.”

About the challenges he’s faced setting up his academy, Rohit says: “The main challenge was to make people aware of Jiu-Jitsu. Kicking and punching seem more appealing to a layperson. Since Jiu-Jitsu involves ground fighting and grappling exchanges, people are hesitant to try their hands at it. Jiu-Jitsu is like chess, unless you’re wired to understand what is happening, the art will seem very unappealing.”

“Jiu-Jitsu still doesn’t get the credit it deserves which is solely due to its scientific nature wherein a certain amount of knowledge is required to know which person is in control, Rohit adds. At present, Rohit’s classes are being held at a gym. But he’s working on having a place of his own. As someone who considers himself a missionary for Jiu-Jitsu in India, he would “like to see the art come full circle.”

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This column features those who choose to veer off the beaten track.


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